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Soda Scones

All visitors to this column will be interested in a newly published Scottish cookery book (6 November 2002) - 'The Baker's Tale - The specialities of James Burgess from One Devonshire Gardens' by cookery writer Catherine Brown which has been published by Angels' Share an imprint of Neil Wilson Publishing Ltd , Glasgow (12.95). The book contains a wide range of recipes from Daily Bread with fresh yeast to Chocolate Truffles as used by James 'Mr Jimmy' Burgess, the last craft baker to work at One Devonshire Gardens in Glasgow's West End, one of the top hotels in Scotland and the choice of the stars. Award-winning food writer and long time fan of 'Mr Jimmy's' superb baking, Catherine Brown, has captured the essence of a heart warming tale of a man dedicated to his craft and sets his life story alongside his own mouth-watering recipes.
James Burges was obviously destined to be a baker. Taken by his granny as a child he would stand for hours and watch the bakers at work in Brown's in Dunblane. At 14 he left school to work as an apprentice baker and studied Bakery at the Royal Technical College in Glasgow. Called up for National Service he landed in Korea during the Korean War and was then posted to Gibralter where he faced charges of 'disrespect for the Army Catering Manual' - the sensible decision was taken to transfer him to the Officers' Mess! After a series of jobs, including selling insurance, 'Mr Jimmy' reputation for baking landed him a job at top Glasgow restaurant The Triangle. A move to the prestigious One Devonshire Gardens was to follow and for ten yers his skill as a baker and pastry chef sealed a fine career. Among his admirers over the years were Billy Connelly, Lulu, Robbie Coltrane, Delia Smith, Rolf Harris, Celine Dion and many others who frequently left with a complimentary box of 'Mr Jimmy's' tablet or shortbread.
Buy a copy of this book for the 'baker' in your life and then enjoy to the full, recipe by recipe, the work of a craftsman in food. Hopefully we will dip into 'Mr Jimmy's' recipes in the future, but here for starters is his splendid recipe for Soda Scones.
Soda Scones
This is an unsweetened scone. The daily bread in some areas of Scotland where bread ovens were unknown.
Yield ; 2 rounds, 8 scones
Ingredients : 8 oz (225 g) plain flour; 1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda; 1 level teaspoon cream of tartar; 1 tablespoon vegetable oil; 5 fl oz (150 ml) buttermilk or sweet milk soured with the juice of a lemon; pinch of salt
Preheat the girdle and grease lightly' Test heat with some flour which should turn a light brown in a few minutes. Also judge heat by holding your hand over the girdle whrn it should feel hot but not fiercely so.
Mixing and Shaping : Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar into a bowl. Make a well in the center and add the oil and sour milk and salt. Mix to a soft pliable dough. Do not overmix or the scones will shrink when baked. Turn out onto a floured board. Flour on top and divide into two. Roll each piece into a circle about 1 cm thick.
Baking : Bake on the girdle for about 4-5 minutes on one side. Turn and bake on other side till cooked through. Fold in tea towel when cooked and serve warm with butter and strawberry jam.

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