Can I tell you a secret? My internal dialogue is constantly saying “girl, come on, you’re just making scones. You do NOT need to be in the throes of an existential reflection right now.” But here we are, yet again. As with many things in my life, the process of making these scones provoked a much deeper reflection than just the standard, mix, bake, eat, repeat. This particular reflection? The importance of persistence, learning from mistakes, and s l o w i n g d o w n . Over the weekend I had a late night baking sesh where I made two batches of blueberry scones, one immediately after the other. The first batch (pictured above) turned out beautiful, light and airy with all the typical sconey deliciousness. The second batch? That’s a different story.
[Side note before I dive into the good stuff: If you’re curious about the scone recipe I use, I have found the one on Sally’s Baking Addiction: Recipe Linked Here!! to be nothing short of amazing (so long as you follow the recipe, unlike me, to which you will read more about below). ]
While starting the second batch, I first forgot to add in the grated, frozen butter to the dry ingredients. I was moving too fast. It is scientifically THE most critical part of making the dough light and airy, but I was getting sleepy and impatient. My plan was to pop the second batch in the oven while the first was cooling, so I could start cleaning up sooner, ultimately making it to my bed sooner. My mind was ten steps ahead of my actions before I even started the second batch. Read that again. I was 10 steps ahead of myself worrying about getting to my future task [sleep] instead of focusing on the task in the present moment [baking]. And it made me stop to think about the importance of know what’s ahead, but the critical importance of recognizing what is right in front of you. Slowing down enough to be engaged, observant, attentive, and thoughtful (with your scone dough… or otherwise.)
The second mistake is that I handled the dough for way too long. I knew immediately that I had made a mistake the exact moment I added the wet ingredients to the dry, realizing I forgot to add the butter. In turn, I ended up handling the dough for way too long while trying to make sure the butter was fully incorporated. The frozen blueberries started melting from the heat of my hands and the dough became wet, super difficult to handle. I kept adding more and more flour to bring it back to a consistency that would be acceptable to cut and bake. The scones were dense, a little tough, and ended up burning because the butter was exposed to the high heat much more directly. (By not first being properly cutting in to the dry ingredients, the butter had direct contact with the heat of the cookie sheet resulting in the scones burning in the same time that the first batch came out perfectly). The reflection here? In what other areas of my life am I continually attempting to fix, overworking, while actually not helping at all? At what point is it okay to say “this just isn’t working the way I wanted” and call it a night? At what point do you pivot and say to yourself “you know my intention was to make scones but maybe I’ll throw the dough in a muffin tin to make a scone/muffin hybrid?” (a solution that only came to me in this exact moment I am typing this). Challenge yourself to release the grip on the “it’s supposed to be this way” narrative and allowing yourself to see all of the other realistic, creative, accessible, and still delicious, possibilities that exist around you (scone/muffin hybrid… or otherwise).
The last part of this is the persistence. Was I frustrated that I completely botched the second batch while the first batch came out perfect? Heck yes, I was frustrated. Does this mean I am going to give up on my scone baking? Heck no. Part of persistence is reflection. The other part is taking action. It is making the time to ask yourself: “How did I get to this end result? How close am I to my goal? And ,what can I do differently next time to get a little closer?”
As I continue to dive deeper into cooking and baking I am constantly reminded of the need to stay open to failure, the value in learning from past mistakes, and the commitment it takes to note what you want to change for the future and actually try it again later. I hope this serves as a reminder to reflect on your every day life. How many moments throughout your day do you complete tasks out of routine and necessity? For me it is dissecting the lessons to be learned in my cooking and baking. For you, they may present themselves in a different form, in different tasks. Take the time to reflect, you may be surprised to learn about all there is nestled within the simple moments.