Steaming coffee, cranberry-ginger scones, and Formula 1 racing – a morning trifecta

Three things to make it a perfect morning: a perfect scone, hot coffee, and F1.

Three things to make it a perfect morning: a scone, hot coffee, and F1.

I have an addiction. I confess. But don’t blame it on me, blame my parents. They’re the ones who started it – I’m just an innocent bystander, swept up into the ferocity of it all. But I am willing … oh, so willing….

Thankfully, I’m not talking about drugs here – or alcohol. I’m talking about Formula 1 racing. Yes, I’m addicted to racing; I admit it and am ready to repent. Just kidding! Nothing could tear me away from the action – ooh, the allure of squealing tires and screaming engines, a dicey pass into a tight hairpin, the rush of watching, with eyes glued to the screen, my favorite driver chase his opponent with incredible tenacity, back end whipping out at every corner exit. It’s hard to believe it myself, but I’ve been waking up at 7:30 on Saturday and 7:00 on Sunday morning of every grand prix weekend since 1994. Talk about devotion!

Nothing else can promptly wake up such a night owl as I at an ungodly hour as this – as my parents, sister, and former roommates can attest – except perhaps the scent of salty bacon or sweet pancakes wafting over my sleeping body. It’s sort of a family tradition, and I cherish these early morning memories as highly as any involving my family. My dad would, after having roused my mother, knock on my bedroom door and mutter in a silly sing-song voice (the only time I’d heard this particular light-hearted tone in his voice), “Kaaaaffren….” I knew what this meant, my own personal alarm, and I’d practically bolt out of bed; I knew if I missed a single moment of on-track action, I’d be sorry. No snooze button here – as opposed to every other morning of the week, of course (you’re talking to a dedicated snoozer here!).

Until recently, my mom was always the least plussed to wake up so early and would sometimes miss the first ten minutes or so while she brushed her teeth. We’d all be a bit groggy until the racing pepped us up and left our sleepiness in the dust. Usually coffee had something to do with this, and more often than not my mom’s breakfast did as well. Occasionally it was pancakes, sometimes dotted with pecans, other times it was blueberry muffins or raspberry scones with jam she’d put up that season, or maybe just freshly cut up cantaloupe and a bowl of shredded wheat. Sometimes my dad took the reins – and when it did it was always, always scrambled eggs with Jimmy Dean sausage crumbled in.

But the important thing is that we were together – except for my sister, more fond of sleep than F1, who’d wander downstairs no earlier than 8:30. Sharing coffee and breakfast in the living room, centered around the old CRT television, was a quiet ritual that bonded us pretty tightly, I’d say. Oh, there were stronger bonds, to be sure, but this was like some kind of silent pact we’d made to follow every pass, every pitstop, every pole position and victory, so help us God.

It’s been seven years since I’ve lived at home, but I still wake up for every live Formula 1 session, even Friday morning practice if I’m not working (thank you, flex-time scheduling!). It’s an addiction, see? TV set to Speed Channel? Check. Coffee? Check. Something scrumptious to tuck into? Check. This morning, it’s the Singapore Grand Prix with my boy Vettel nipping at the leader’s gearbox, black coffee steaming out of my mom’s old chipped sun mug, and homemade scones I baked at 9 pm last night – just so I’d have a great breakfast ready for the race today. And to top it off, it’s a foggy morning after a rainy night – and since fog is my writing muse, I couldn’t be happier.

Rain and fog 27Aug09

Oh, the scones? You mean this is a food blog? What?! Oh, right…. They’re my favorite recipe I’ve tried yet, and I’ve had perhaps half a dozen variations come out of my kitchen and my mom’s. I usually like buttermilk scones, but these have cream and one egg instead. The best thing about them is the relatively small amount of butter; I used to be scared of making scones – guilty, really – because of how much butter they traditionally call for. But these … these don’t need an ounce more butter than their half a stick. They’re not greasy, and there’s evidently just enough butter to fluff them up without making them into a muffiny/cakey/biscuity fake-out version that some cafés try to pass off as scones. The little nibbles of crystallized ginger are crunchy, spicy little gifts that pop unexpectedly in your mouth. With the sugar from the ginger, these scones could even use a little less sugar than the 3 tablespoons the recipe (courtesy of Molly Wizenberg) calls for, and I’d be perfectly happy to make them sans cranberries next time – they are so wonderful, they don’t need them. This is definitely a do-again. What a great breakfast for a great morning. More memories.

And for those F1 fans out there. Favorite track? Spa, hands down. Favorite drivers? Fisichella (my first fave), Alonso, and Vettel. Favorite F1 moment? Montréal 2000 – because I was there … and barring disaster preventing F1 from returning there in 2010, I hope to be back again soon! What are your faves?

Cranberry-ginger scones (recipe adapted courtesy of the Orangette blog)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 2 cups + 2 Tbsp of cake flour because that’s all I had, and that worked out fine)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest (or orange, if you like)
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries (or whatever fruit tickles your fancy, really)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup cream or milk (skim has never worked well in any of my previous scone trials)

Preheat oven to 425°F. Prepare a baking sheet with a nonstick baking slip or a light coat of grease.

Whisk the dry ingredients in a medium bowl, then cut in the butter with a pastry cutter. Try not to leave big chunks. Mix in the ginger, lemon, and cranberries. In a separate small bowl, whisk the egg with the cream, then stir in the sugar until well incorporated. Stir this wet mixture into the other ingredients, folding it just a bit to be gentle on the dough. Don’t overmix! Knead the dough on a liberally floured surface, using equally liberally floured hands. Don’t knead more than a dozen times (personally, I didn’t knead the dough but “faux kneaded” the dough in the bowl because it’s a pretty sticky dough, and they turned out fine). Form into an 8″ disc and cut into six to eight wedges, depending on how greedy you are about your scone size.

Transfer the wedges to the baking sheet, then brush a little bit of cream onto the tops. Bake for twelve minutes; they should be lightly golden. Remove to a cooling rack. Enjoy them warm after a sufficient cooling period, but they’re perfect the next morning as well, preferably with black coffee and a good race.

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4 thoughts on “Steaming coffee, cranberry-ginger scones, and Formula 1 racing – a morning trifecta

  1. F1? YESSS! Favorite track? SPA, of course! It’s about 20 km from where I live. When there’s not a race, you can drive over there and walk around. There’s a memorial to Senna and of course the gorgeous views.

    It used to be that when you drove from Francorchamps towards Marche you could go by the circuit. The highway ran right through it, between the stands on the section with the start/finish line! (on race days that part of the highway was closed, of course and you had to detour through Malmedy) It was dangerous for me to drive there, because I felt the need to pass anyone else on the road as I approached the stands…

    They’ve changed it now, it’s a lot safer. But you can still go and have a day of training to drive race cars. Not F1 cars, though…

    Love your blog.

  2. OOH, I am insanely jealous that you live so close to Spa!! One day I will go there for a race, walk the track, see the Senna memorial (there’s one to Jim Clark as well, right?), and go to the WWII museums as well.
    What a thrill to drive on a section of the course – and that’s hilarious that you had to pass people once you got there! I’m sure I would do the same thing (wait, that’s a normal day on the highway for me, lol). Wouldn’t it be great if Eau Rouge were part of the highway?
    In Wisconsin I used to live about an hour from Road America (I’m sure you’ve heard of that from the old Indy/CART/Champ Car days), which is, in my opinion, second best to Spa. My dad used to race there when I was little, so I got to bike the course at night. It’s not Pouhon/Eau Rouge/La Source, but Turn 5 and the Carousel are pretty thrilling!
    Thanks again for the kind words, Kate.

  3. Pingback: I’m back! | peas + carrots

  4. Pingback: Compromise scones: Blueberry-cardamom scones or Cardamom scones | peas + carrots

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