Saturday, 21 January 2012

Bakin' The Aikens Way

Tom Aikens. This chef first came on my radar when I was introduced to IronChef UK and then again when I was pregnant.

My better half took me on a weekend away to London when I was 8 months pregnant, and after purchasing even more baby items in Covent Garden decided to go to Somerset House for lunch. If you have never been to Tom's Kitchen, go it is absolutely fabulous and has the most amazing little deli shop too, which has (in my opinion) the world's best chocolate brownies.  These were, my now famous, late pregnancy craving - to the point where when my husband went back to London in the weeks leading up to my due date he had to make a special stop at Tom's Deli to bring me back some brownies - London to Edinburgh is a long trip for a brownie!

The brasserie offers a rustic and informal style of dining and features the same familiar and comforting dishes as his original Chelsea kitchen. I have never had the opportunity to go to his flagship restaurant in Chelsea but I am sure if the standard we witnessed is anything to go by then it is definitely something to experience if you are in the area.

It might seem like I am waxing lyrical here but I cannot stress enough the impression this place left on me. Anyone who has been or is pregnant will tell you it brings its own special challenging, one of which being the astronomical list of food stuffs you can and can't eat! The staff here were truly fantastic and could not do enough to help, they made the whole situation effortless - even down to the bar manager taking the time to come and find out the sort of flavours I enjoyed so he could create me my own mocktail - I missed my cocktails whilst I was pregnant! Gorgeous food and impeccable service!

After this it seemed inevitable that purchasing the cookbook would follow. The recipes are graded in three categories, easy, medium and challenging. The latter category requires a lot of time & detail with the food and some forethought (basically, don't try and whip these up for a quick meal when you get in from work), but the medium and easy recipes are well set out and easy for the domestic cook. There are notes on what can wrong on some of the recipes and how to avoid mistakes which is a useful addition especially for someone like me who is more than a little accident prone. It provides a good range of different recipes, from bread and cakes to petite fours. This book has, what I consider to be, a foolproof scone recipe, and they taste amazing fresh out of the oven:


225g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
55g unsalted butter
30g caster sugar
150ml milk

This makes approximately 15 scones depending on how thick you make them and the size of the cutter you are using. They are also really quick to make - about 30mins prep, then 7 mins in the oven.

1. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7

2. Sift the flour with the other dry ingredients into a bowl then rub in the butter and stir in the sugar. Make a deep well in the middle, then pour in the milk. Mix together with a palette knife.

Gingerbread Man Scones
3. On a floured surface knead the dough very lightly until it is just smooth. Roll out to 2.5cm thick then cut into small rounds.

4. Brush the tops with a little beaten egg or dust with flour, and bake in the preheated oven, towards the top, for 7 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire rack (...if you can!!!)

This recipe is for the plain scones, but you could also use it as a base recipe for fruit or cheese scones. For a fruit scone add 30g of dried fruit to the recipe. For a cheese scone, add 30g of grated cheese, omitting 30g of the butter and all of the sugar.  

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