I’m not particularly fond of supermarkets, which I imagine is something that I have in common with a lot of people. And in my desire to spend as little time in them as possible, I prepare for any visit in advance by writing a list of everything that I need to buy. I plan a mental map of the most efficient route around the store, and work out exactly how long it should take for me to get everything I need. Then – and this is the fun part – I subtract a random number of minutes from that time. All that’s left for me to do is rush around the store like a maniac, collecting required items like they’re trophies, whilst trying to ‘beat’ whatever time it is that I’ve dreamt up being as a reasonable target to aim for…
But joking aside, it remains that I really don’t like to spend much time in supermarkets, and playing my very own version of “Supermarket Sweep” – however sedately – does have its disadvantages. It’s an obvious mistake, but I’m usually in such a rush that (despite my carefully drafted list) I simply forget something that really would have been useful. So, I was particularly pleased last week, when I managed not only to spend a respectably short amount of time in the store, but also successfully completed my mission by getting everything that I needed. Brilliant! Sadly, however, my euphoria was short-lived, and as I unpacked my shopping was perplexed to find that instead of buying black peppercorns, I had actually managed to bring pink ones instead. It’s not exactly a big problem, but I found it irritating nonetheless.
I’ve never purchased pink peppercorns before, and although they’re certainly delightful to look at, a quick search informed me that they’re no substitute for the black ones. Although both are spicy and highly flavoured, pink varieties (which aren’t actually peppercorns at all), are more aromatic, with a citrus piquancy that means that they go well with fruit as well as desserts, rather than with savoury dishes.
Although this was initially rather annoying, what it did mean was that I had the perfect excuse to look for a new recipe – one that made good use of my accidental ingredient. And eventually I came across this one, published in The Guardian. It’s a recipe for one of the scones available at The Modern Pantry, a café and restaurant which looks as though it would offer an incredible afternoon tea, and which is now firmly on my “to do” list next time I’m in London.
I was pleased with how these turned out, and they really do provide an interesting twist to a traditional British scone. The smell of the pink peppercorns was just fabulous, although a little disconcerting at times as I couldn’t help but wonder if they were going to overpower everything else. I worried about this twice – once as I was grinding them, and again as the scones were cooking – but I really needn’t have been concerned. Although they do provide some heat, there is also a surprising sweetness to them, and they go remarkably well with the Darjeeling. Which is just another thing that makes them perfect as an afternoon treat.
Serve with clotted cream and jam, along with a nice cup of tea…
Recipe: Darjeeling and Pink Peppercorn Scones
225g self-raising flour
65g whole meal flour
40g porridge oats
50g caster sugar
1 tbsp Darjeeling tea, ground
it turns out that this was the amount in two tea bags
1 tbsp pink peppercorns, ground, plus a little extra for sprinkling
⅓ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp milk, for brushing
2 tbsp demerara sugar
This should make about 10 scones
Pre-heat the oven to 200c / 400f / gas mark 6.
Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl, then rub in the butter with your fingers to form a crumb-like texture. Gradually add the buttermilk until the milk forms into a dough.
Roll out to 2cm think, then cut into 6cm diameter rounds. Put on to a baking tray lined with baking paper, brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar and a few peppercorns.
Bake for 15 minutes or so, until light golden.
Cool on a wire rack, then serve with jam and clotted cream.