As a child I would wake up on Sunday mornings and listen to my mother humming along to very loud music, baking scones in the kitchen. She had a pretty consistent playlist – it would either be the soundtrack of The Sound of Music or Evita, or Roger Whitaker. Sometimes she would be baking plaatkoekies (or flapjacks, as they’re known in South African English, akin to the North American pancake but smaller, more petite, and very very far away from the British flapjack), which we would eat with golden syrup and cheese. But mostly Sundays were for scones, with either, again, cheese, or jam and cream. My mother seemed (and still, seems), particularly happy on Sunday mornings. There are, I suppose, no children to get to school, no lunches to pack or negotiations over bathing or dressing or the brushing of teeth. She could just hang out in the kitchen and listen to Roger sing everybody talks about a new world in the morning, and bake. As a child I took my mother’s Sunday morning joie de vivre for granted – it was always thus. As an adult this quality is what has made me most envious of my mother, and is the one I am most desperate to emulate. My mother does not lie awake at 3am and worry about the meaning of her life. I want to be my mother.
So I bake. It is Sunday today, and I am sick, so we’ve spent the morning in bed, watching old British Pathé videos, with some scones in the oven. It is a recipe from Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cake Book, and although it is not the best scones you will ever make in your life, it’s an ideal scone for a Sunday morning. There’s nothing tricky or time-consuming about it, and you only need one or two bowls, which is perfect if your other bowls are dirty anyway (another example of how I am not my mother). They rise beautifully, and would be pretty impressive even if you offered them to guests for tea, topped with jam and cream, instead of just eaten in bed, like we did.