Sorry readers, it’s been a hectic week for this part-time grad student. I failed to make a new recipe. So in this week’s entry, I share a story about a recipe that I discovered the last time I was overwhelmed and in grad school…
Unlike graduate school in the U.S., which has plenty of coursework, Cambridge requires its students to spend the entire year writing one single piece of work – the Masters Thesis. Needless to say, by the spring, my friends and I were using any excuse to not sit alone in a dark room writing academic drivel.
It was out of this need to escape the Ivory Tower that the “Trinity Hall People’s Committee for Cake” was formed. The principles of Cake Committee were simple. Meetings were held at the same time and the same place (the MCR) each week. All were welcome to join, provided they contribute a dessert-type snack to the general welfare of the group. Store bought cakes were acceptable, but homemade goods were appreciated. Working and discussing work were to be avoided at all costs.
By the second week of Cake Committee, I had figured out that making my contribution led to greater procrastination time. Thus, I chose to bake rather than buy my cake. Back then, my cooking/baking skills were not what they are today. So I chose a very simple recipe: scones with raspberry jam.
The recipe involved minimal ingredients: flour, milk, egg, applesauce and jam. The perfect inexpensive shopping list for a student. The process was also easy, which was good because my flat’s kitchen didn’t provide much beyond a bowl, a spatula and a cookie sheet.
The only unique part about this particular recipe is that it requires you to add the jam before baking. Traditionally, one adds jam (and cream) before eating.
The next week, I arrived at the Committee meeting a bit late (you try biking downhill with two dozen scones in tow!) to find everyone enjoying store bought snacks. I guess no one wanted to procrastinate as much as I did. I tried to casually place the scones on the table without notice. But it wasn’t long before the digestives and jaffa cakes were left behind, and the conversation turned to my scones. (Yes, that’s right, British people loved my American, jam-topped scones!)
It was decided that the Committee needed to encourage more homemade contributions. How could we go back to brand-name after scones? Some type of incentive seemed in order. Someone, I can’t remember who, suggested a weekly prize for best cake. Another suggested placing the winner’s name on the announcement board in the MCR. And then my friend Doug famously suggested, “And in honor of our first winner, we shall called it THE LESLIE PRIZE.”
That day, I not only gained a prize, but also a very reliable scone recipe that I still make regularly. They are the perfect weekend (or weekday) breakfast. They may not be as good as the ones I enjoyed in Cambridge, but they are tasty and bring back pleasant memories.
And before you ask… I did have to fight to reclaim THE LESLIE PRIZE title the following week. It was a dirty battle that involved a devious plan and a secret weapon in the form of cheesecake. But that’s a story… a recipe…and a blog entry….for another day…