Rebecca's Scones - Gutcher Goose Cafe, Yell
by Elizabeth Atia -
Did you know that come midwinter Shetland only gets 5 hours and 49 minutes of daylight? (Source) I don't know about anyone else up here, but I know that come these dark, gale-filled months where the sun may not shine at all for days and days, I need to keep busy. The urge to craft and make things grows strong, and a few weeks ago I dug my crochet project out of the drawer (a blanket of coloured squares I can work on while absentmindedly watching telly in the evening).
This morning, to occupy our time, my youngest and I made some scones.
Rebecca's scones, to be precise, a recipe given to me by the lovely young lady I met in Yell last month while on The Shetland Food Trail. I had a little bit of time to kill while waiting for the ferry from the island of Yell to Unst, and I saw that the cafe at the ferry terminal was open. I nipped in for a look-see and to get out of the rain.
I hadn't been in this cafe for quite some time, not since it was known as the Wind Dog Cafe. It was taken over in May this year by new owners (the same owners as the Baltasound Hotel in Unst), who have big plans for the place. It's been renamed the Gutcher Goose Cafe in honour of the infamous wild geese occupying the area.
The first thing you notice is the fantastic rustic wooden furniture, brought up to Shetland from a pub in Ireland, Rebecca informed me. I found myself a cosy spot next to the window so I could see the ferry coming in and ordered my breakfast: a Shetland sassermaet roll. Catching up on social media via their free wifi (just ask for the code at the counter) I sipped my filter coffee and ate my sassermaet roll, drying off from getting soaked in between the car and cafe.
Sassermaet, for those who have not had the privilege yet of trying it, is a Shetland delicacy. Each butcher makes their own variety, but Margaret B. Stout in her 1925 book Cookery for Northern Wives provides this seasoning blend for beef: allspice, cloves, ginger, white pepper, black pepper, mace, Jamaica pepper, cinnamon and plenty of salt. It is a really unique flavour, and like marmite, you either love it or loathe it (I love it, my husband loathes it!).
Rebecca likes to travel. She's been all over the world and she's full of fascinating stories that make me want to get up and go. I could have listened to her talk for hours!
Rebecca has always loved food and has worked for the last ten years in the food industry. She spent several ski seasons in the French Alps before moving to New Zealand and learning pastry work. Before she made her way to Shetland she was a head waiter in a restaurant in London, but she'd had enough of London life and found work at the Baltasound Hotel in Unst.
This sweet scone recipe is one Rebecca used to make for the cafe. They're sweet, ideal for a tea time treat topped with jam and cream, or even layered as a strawberry shortcake dessert.
The Gutcher Goose Cafe has closed for the winter season, and Rebecca has gone back to London, but I would urge you to visit the cafe when it reopens in the spring, or when traveling through Shetland in the summer. It's a lovely little gem of a place serving quality home cooked food made with local produce.
Servings: 10 scones
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
- Plain flour - 450 grams
- Baking powder - 3 tsp
- Salt - pinch
- Shetland butter - 150 grams (slightly softened)
- Caster sugar - 80 grams
- Shetland eggs - 2 (beaten with a dash of milk)
- Pre-heat the oven to 220 deg C. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter.
- Rub in using your fingertips only - they produce the least amount of heat in your hands! Stop when the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Alternately, you can do this in a food processor . Add the sugar and lightly mix.
- Add the beaten egg and milk a little at a time and stir using a knife until the the mixture begins to come together. Use your hands to bring the mixture together until a dough is formed.
- Roll out to 1 inch thickness - no less or your scones will not rise!
- Cut into rounds (I usually use a medium sized glass I was usually working in under equipped chalet kitchens!) and place on a baking sheet lined with grease proof paper. Brush a little of the beaten egg mixture on each scone.
- Bake for 9-12 minutes - the scones are ready when they are golden both on the top and bottom and sound a little hollow when tapped on the bottom.
- Enjoy with your favourite jam and Shetland cream!