For me the word scone conjures up an image of a hot summer afternoon with Victorian ladies sipping tea from china teacups and nibbling on homemade scones with clotted cream and lashings of strawberry jam.
Well, today it is mid-April and we seem to be experiencing four seasons in one day! But hey ho, I’ve made a batch of scones anyway!
Baking is something that has come naturally to me. I don’t come from a long line of good cooks. In fact my Mum has been known to burn boiled eggs and my Nan seems to think that everything has to be cooked in 2 inches of lard! My Nan actually phoned me the other day to find out why her rice pudding was inedible. It turned out that she hadn’t put enough milk in it, hadn’t covered the dish with foil and then had put the oven on full blast. Even the birds refused to eat it! It is no wonder then that my late Grandad used to give me a long list of baking he wanted me to take home with me on my next visit.
Scones, however, have always been my nemesis! It didn’t matter what recipe I used, how carefully I measured the ingredients or whether it was a friends “guaranteed to work” family recipe, I could never make decent scones. They always came out of the oven like ice hockey pucks!
That is until I discovered the following recipe. It really does work every time! Promise!
The trick it seems is to sifted the dry ingredients together, to keep everything cool and to handle the dough as little as possible. But enough of my prattle! Here is the recipe:
500g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp sea salt
125g unsalted butter or margarine
25g caster sugar
- Preheat the oven to 220°C / 200°C fan oven / 425°F
- Sift the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl
- Mix the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles breadcrumbs. I use my Kenwood mixer with the K beater for this. If you do it by hand, I would recommend putting all the ingredients in the fridge for at leat 30 min before you start to mix them.
- Swap to a dough hook if you are using a mixer
- Slowly add enough beaten egg and buttermilk to form a soft dough. You might not need all the liquid so don’t throw it all in at once!
- Turn onto a lightly floured board and gently bring together.
- Gently roll the dough out until it is approximately 1.5cm deep or the thickness of your index finger.
- Cut out rounds using a 2.5 inch cutter. You should have enough dough to make 12-14 scones. Try not to reroll the dough more than once as it will become very tough. You can egg wash the top of the scones if you want to but I don’t bother.
- Bake in a preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until the scones are well risen and golden brown.A well-baked scone should have pale sides and a golden top with a natural crack running around the middle. You should never have to cut a scone in half, it should pull apart easily.
10. Allow the scones to cool completely on a cooling rack. Serve them with jam and cream. Clotted cream is the traditional cream to use but as you can see whipped cream works just as well.
- Fruit scones : add 100g of sultanas or raisins to the dry ingredients
- Cherry scones:add 100g of washed, dried and halved glace cherries to the dry ingredients
- Herby scones: Omit the sugar and add 1 tsp of dried mixed herbs to the dry ingredients. Top the uncooked scones with a little grated cheese
- Cheese scones: Omit the sugar and add 100g finely grated hard cheese (e.g. cheddar or red Leicester) and 0.5 tsp cayenne pepper to the dry ingredients. Top the uncooked scones with a little grated cheese. These are absolutely gorgeous!!!