Scones: The Food of CLOCKWORK PRINCESS

clockwork princessI've not talked much about my love for Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series, because it's hard to convey my love without a whole lot of fan-girl squeeing. Such lovely prose and passionate characters. Although the first book, City of Bones, is coming out as a movie, don't judge the series based on it. I have a feeling it will only pale in comparison. To be honest, I found the ending of Clockwork Princess, the final book in the Infernal Devices series, to be rather sad. The ending was inevitable and much less surprising as the Mortal Instruments series. I loved the Victorian setting and the touches of steampunk-ish clockwork devices. And the Victorians knew how to eat. Where in the modern-day Mortal Instruments series we see vegetarian pizza and Chinese take-out, in the Infernal Devices series, we're treated to more formal affairs.

Breakfast is the first meal of the day, a social time for the Shadowhunters as they gather about the table in the morning and discuss their plans for the day. From Clockwork Princess:

Breakfast was at first a quiet affair. Gideon and Gabriel came down together, both subdued, Gabriel barely saying a word, aside from asking Henry to pass the butter. Cecily had placed herself at the far end of the table and was reading a book as she ate; Tessa longed to see the title, but Cecily had placed the book at such an angle that it was not visible. Will, across from Tessa, had the dark shadows of sleeplessness below his eyes, a memory of their eventful night; Tessa herself poked unenthusiastically at her kedgeree, silent until the door opened and Jem came in.

Kedgeree is "a dish consisting of cooked, flaked fish(sometimes smoked haddock), boiled rice, parsley, hard-boiled eggs, curry powder, butter or cream and occasionally sultanas." It was fashionable at the time. Doesn't sound all that appealing for breakfast, but I've made something similar for dinner.

The moments between Will and Tessa and Jem are rather solemn and sober-- and the whole book might be rather depressing if it weren't for Sophie. I really enjoyed her development over the three books in the Infernal Devices series. But my favourite moments have to be the "Scones" scenes.

They tumbled to the ground together, Sophie's face flaming in embarrassment-- dear God, he would think she had pulled him down on purpose, that she was some sort of wanton madwoman intent on passion. Her cap had fallen off, and her dark curls fell over her face. The rug was soft beneath her, and Gideon, above her, was whispering her name with concern. She turned her head aside, her cheeks still burning, and found herself gazing beneath his four-poster bed.

"Mr. Lightwood," she said, raising herself up on her elbows. "Are those scones under your bed?"

Gideon froze, blinking, a rabbit cornered by hounds. "What?"

"There." She pointed to the mounded dark shapes piled beneath the four-poster. "There is a veritable mountain of scones beneath your bed. What on earth?"

Gideon sat up, raking his hands through his tumbled hair as Sophie scrambled back away from him, her skirts rustling around her. "I . . ."

"You called for those scones. Nearly every day. You asked for them, Mr. Lightwood. Why would you do that if you didn't want them?"

His cheeks darkened. "It was the only way I could think to see you. You wouldn't speak to me, wouldn't listen when I tried to talk to you--"

"So you lied?" Seizing up her fallen cap, Sophie rose to her feet. "Do you have any idea how much work I have to do, Mr. Lightwood? Carrying up coal and hot water, dusting, polishing, cleaning up after you and the others-- and I don't mind or complain, but how dare you make extra work for me, make me drag heavy trays up and down the stairs, just to bring you something you don't even want?"

Gideon scrambled to his feet, his clothes even more wrinkled now. "Forgive me," he said. "I did not think."

"No," Sophie said, furiously tucking her hair up under her cap. "You lot never do, do you?"

And with that, she stalked from the room, leaving Gideon staring hopelessly after her.

"Nicely done, brother," said Gabriel from the bed, blinking sleepy green eyes at Gideon.

Gideon threw a scone at him.

Who knew scones of all things would bring these two lovebirds together? Oh, yes, Sophie is bitterly angry, but it's the scones that opens her eyes to his feelings and it's the scones that opens Gideon's eyes to what life is like for Sophie. The "veritable mountain" of scones speaks volumes about the divide between their classes. Shadowhunters never mix company with servants, but this pair are drawn together.

"Scones?" Tessa said incredulously.

Sophie's mouth twitched into a smile. She was down on her knees before the grate with a rag and a bucket of soapy water. "You could have knocked me into a cocked hat, I was that startled," she confirmed. "Dozens of scones. Under his bed, all gone hard as rocks."

"My goodness," Tessa said, sliding to the edge of the bed and leaning back on her hands. Whenever Sophie was in her room cleaning, Tessa always had to hold herself back from rushing over to help the other girl with the tinderbox or the dusting. She had tried it on a few occasions, but after Sophie had set Tessa down gently but firmly for the fourth time, she had given it up.

"And you were angry?" Tessa said.

"Of course I was! Making all that extra work for me, carrying the scones up and down stairs, and then hiding them like that-- I shouldn't be surprised if we end the autumn with mice."

Tessa nodded, gravely acknowledging the potential rodent issue. "But isn't it a bit flattering that he went to such lengths just to see you?"

Sophie sat up straight. "It's not flattering. He is not thinking. He is a Shadowhunter, and I am a mundane. I can expect nothing from him. In the best of all possible worlds, he might offer to take me as a mistress while he marries a Shadowhunter girl."

So of course, I will never look at scones the same way again. They shall always remind me of Sophie and Gideon.

I use this recipe quite often. It's quick, easy and tasty.

Scones

IMG_01442 cups  - all purpose flour

4 tsp.  - baking powder

1/2 tsp.  - salt

2/3 cup  - butter (or vegetable shortening)

3/4 cup -  almond milk (or milk or buttermilk)

Heat oven to 425F.

In large bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter until crumbly. (Alternatively, put flour, baking powder and salt into food processor. Pulse until combined. Add butter chopped into smaller bits. Pulse until crumbly.)

Stir in milk just until moistened. (If using food processor, add milk and pulse just until moistened.)

Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth. About 1 minute. Roll out dough to 3/4" thickness. Cut into 8 (2") scones; place 1" apart on cookie sheet.  (Alternatively, for drop biscuits, instead of kneading, drop dough onto cookie sheet in 8 blobs 1" apart.)

Bake for 10 to 14 minutes or until lightly browned.

Note: you can vary this recipe by adding shredded cheese and a sprinkle of herbs or add dried fruits like currants or raisins. As Sophie didn't seem overly concerned about mould, I suspect she made the plain version.

Enjoy your scones the traditional way with cream and jam.