Delia Smith is a genius. Otherwise a klutz like me couldn’t be baking the most extraordinary scones. She is a perfectionist, so every hint is given to maximise the reader’s chances of success in following her recipes. One quibble though – how to wrestle with dough is not fully explained. I usually get a gloopy mess that I turn out onto a work surface prepped with flour. Rebellious bits of dough head for the hills, the remainder stick to my hands, no matter how much flour I have rubbed into every pore. Chucking more flour over the mess eventually gives me something to work with. The rest is easy, rolling tossing, patting, punching with the occasional addition of more flour and my sanity is restored as the mess takes shape into dough.
The whole experience is quite challenging for the novice baker, and goes against my guiding principle that it should take longer to eat than to prepare. Scones are pretty quick to bake, but my wrestling time is considerably longer, or so it seems.
I don’t want to cheat by investing in some sort of dough making equipment. Nietzsche wouldn’t approve. It’s all about overcoming difficulties, not that I’m a Luddite, but once the mess is transformed into dough it feels as if you have achieved something magical just by using the power in your hands.
Paul Laurence Dunbar – Dinah Kneading Dough
I have seen full many a sight
Born by day or drawn by night
Sunlight on a silver stream
Golden lillies all adream
Lofty mountains, bold and proud
Veiled beneath the lacelike cloud
But no lovely sight I know
Equals Dinah kneading dough
Brown arms buried elbow deep
Their domestic rhythm keep
As with steady sweep they go
Through the gently yielding dough
Maids may vaunt their finer charms
Naught to me like Dinah’s arms
Girls may draw or paint or sew
I love Dinah kneading dough.
Eyes of jet and teeth of pearl
Hair some say too tight acurl
But the dainty maid I deem
Very near perfection’s dream.
Swift she works and only flings
Me a glance – the least of things
And I wonder does she know
That my heart is in the dough?