Thursday, 26 April 2012

Back to basics: Scones

When I recently advertised a baking course at the Chef’s Room, it filled up straight away and yet only a couple of years previously when I ran a similar course there had been very little interest. That of course was prior to the Great British Bake-off series on TV.

We made chic Parisian macarons, crisp Sicilian almond biscuits, rich chocolate tartlets and plump coffee flavoured choux buns. All of which were enjoyed as a Savoy style afternoon tea with a glass of fizz. What was left over was taken home.

In my wisdom, even though I felt that everyone would know how to make scones I decided that no such occasion would be complete without them and added the recipe to the list. I was therefore quite surprised when the assembled company admitted they had never made scones. I therefore decided to share my mother’s scone recipe this month. My next bake-away afternoon tea is Thursday October 11th if you would like to join me please get in touch.

Hot tips:
  • Scones are very simple and quick to make but there are certain rules to follow; work quickly and lightly and keep the mixture as moist as possible. If it is too sticky to handle, dust with plenty of flour.
  • In the days before refrigerators, scones were traditionally made with milk that had turned sour. This is not something that happens very often these days. Either leave the milk out overnight to go sour or add a teaspoon or two of lemon juice to the milk to turn it sour just before you make the scones. You would not believe the difference it makes to the taste and texture.
  • Always serve scones warm; if necessary reheat in the oven before serving
  • Lastly if you don't do afternoon tea, freshly baked scones are great for breakfast

Grannie’s scones: makes 8

200 g, 2 cups self-raising flourteaspoon bicarbonate of soda

teaspoon cream of tartar

pinch of salt

25 g butter from the fridge

25 g caster sugar

1 medium free range egg
75-100 ml milk and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1 extra egg, forked for glazing


straight-sided scone cutter 5 - 6 cm in diameter

alternatively use a glass

To serve

strawberry jam

125 ml whipped cream

200 g small fresh strawberries

icing sugar

preheat oven 200 C 400 F gas mark 6

Sieve the flour with the bicarbonate of soda, cream of tartar and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub it into the flour evenly with the tips of the fingers, mix in the sugar. Add the egg and 75ml of milk and work the dough into a ball quickly and lightly with a knife. The dough should be soft, moist and malleable. Add a little extra milk to the dough to keep it moist.
Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and flatten it with the hands and shape into a round, 2-3 centimetres thick. If the dough is too moist simply add a little extra flour. Cut out as many scones as the dough allows. Roll the trimmings into a ball, flatten it and cut out a couple more scones. Shape the remaining trimmings into one single scone. Transfer all the scones to a greased baking tray. Paint the scones with beaten egg and bake for 10-15 minutes until well risen and golden. Tap the underside it should sound hallow. Leave to cool a little.
While still warm split open, spread with jam, add a spoon of whipped cream and top with a strawberry. Sprinkle with a veil of icing sugar.

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