With a gentle caress, Morpheus beckons me forward to embrace him, with out-stretched arms, I feel myself oblige. Lingering. Hesitant. Under the arch of jasmine, engulfed in a sea of star like petals, with its effusive perfume sweeping vivaciously through the evening air.
I watch, eyes closed, the distant yet playful shimmer of pink dancing across my vision, the glow of the setting sun in front of me. Even in its weariness and knowing, it begins the transition towards the end of its eternal cycle to make way for the alluring sensations of nightfall, her repose inevitable. The last of its unyielding strength glowing fiercely, strong enough, even now, to warm the bluest of hearts.
Yet, I resist these temptations of slumber. Instead, I contemplate the forthcoming ritual of the evening, its meditative, mindful state and process; a true art form in all its facets.
With broad brush strokes of colours and aroma, I endeavour to emulate the scene captured; romantic, arcane, into a dish reminiscent of childhood.
Jasmine Tea infused Buttermilk Scones
Cooking time: 1 hour
Makes: 10 scones
450g all-purpose flour
2tbsp baking powder
3-4 tsp crystallised jasmine, ground finely
2tbsp vanilla sugar
1/2tbsp caster sugar
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup buttermilk
2tbsp full-fat milk
2/3 cup jasmine tea (you will need 6 jasmine pearls)
1 egg, beaten
demerara sugar, for sprinkling
Coconut flour, for dusting
Cultured Passion fruit and Papaya Butter
Cooking time: 30 minutes plus overnight
Makes: approximately 1 1/2 cups butter + 1/2 cup of buttermilk
To make a salted cultured butter, just eliminate the fruit and sugar, or for unsalted butter, also remove the salt.
2 cups heavy cream
1tbsp cultured buttermilk
1 passion fruit
1 tbsp sugar
Begin by pouring the heavy cream into a clean bowl with the cultured buttermilk. Cover with a kitchen towel loosely and allow to culture overnight (at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours) in a warm area in the kitchen.
In the morning, uncover the bowl and begin to whisk the cream either by hand or an electronic hand whisk (you could even place in a sealable jar and shake) until the heavy cream separates into buttermilk and butter. Place the butter bits into a cheesecloth over a bowl and squeeze out as much liquid (buttermilk) as possible. Reserve the buttermilk. Now, wash the butter throughly under a cold tap.
Scoop the pulp of the passionfruit (Tip: if you do not want passion fruit seeds in the butter, separate them by passing the pulp through a sieve first) and the papaya and place into a bowl along with the sugar and salt. Add the butter and knead together until well incorporated (Note: some of the fruit juices will not entirely be incorporated but this is fine).
When ready, mould into a desired shape either using a butter pat or even a small crème brûlée dish lined with cling film and placing in the refrigerator to set (Note: this is to ensure that the shape of the butter is not ruined when you try to remove it), or simply roll and wrap in cling film. When solid, you can stamp the butter with a rubber cookie stamp or a butter stamp if you desire some decoration. Use within 5 days.
Next, preheat the oven to 200c for a conventional oven, or 180c for fan-assisted oven (400f). Boil some water in a kettle and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes before adding 2/3 cup of it to a cup with the jasmine pearls and allow to infuse for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, sieve the baking powder, salt and flour together before place all the dry ingredients into a bowl. Stir to ensure even distribution of ingredients. Add the butter to the dry ingredients and using your hands, rub the mixture together until no more large chunks of butter are left. In a separate bowl, stir the buttermilk, 1tbsp of milk and the jasmine tea (when cooled) together. Pour into the dry mixture and stir until a dough is formed. Lightly dust with coconut flour and place on a clean surface. Roll out evenly to a thickness of about 1 inch and use a cutter to cut out the scones.
In a small bowl, mix the beaten egg with 1tbsp of milk. Brush this over the scones and sprinkle (liberally) with demerara sugar. Place in the oven for 10-12 minutes until well risen and golden brown. Ideally served immediately, or at least warmed up, with the butter and a lovely cup of green tea. Use within 5 days, or can be frozen for a month.
Thank you for reading.