Therapy comes in so many different guises, but there’s none more British than the act of baking scones. The rubbing together of the flour and butter is, for me, one of the most relaxing moments in baking.
I guess some people get this feeling from ironing (I don’t iron, at all), but for me it’s baking. After my lens incident yesterday I decided to knock up some scones. Don’t get me wrong, I’m looking forward to upgrading my lens, but I’m not super happy about having to shell out a couple of hundred pounds at the moment.
Anyway, the scones.
Scones, pronounced either SC-own or SC-on depending on your camp (I’m of the OWN, Adam’s of the ON… it’s caused several arguments in the past), are an English institution. Light, tall and not over sweet, served with clotted cream & jam, they make a delicious treat and an even better breakfast. Finding the perfect recipe for a scone is an on-going mission, and I wish I could say “This is my Grandmother’s recipe, passed through the generations” but that would be a lie. No, my scone recipe comes from an amalgamation of several sources, and acknowledgment can be given to Delia Smith, Nigella Lawson, and other traditional recipes.
One thing my Nanna did tell me though was that the milk you use in the recipe should be just on the edge of turning, I’m not sure if this is true or not, it’s probably down to the chemical reactions that occur (a build up or acid, or alkali, would cause a difference in rising) in older milk. I’ve made scones with fresh milk and they turn out pretty much the same. Meh, I guess just don’t cry over fresh milk.
500g Plain Flour
20g Caster Sugar (feel free to omit, or add more, depending on your taste)
2 handfuls of Sultanas/Raisins
2 teaspoons bicarb of soda
4 tsp cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
75g Butter or baking butter (stork etc). Or a combination of Butter and Lard if you’re feeling frisky.
250ml-300ml of Milk
Preheat oven to just below it’s max, on my oven that’s about 225ºC on fan assisted.
Put your flour, sugar, salt, bicarb and tartar in a bowl and whisk it lightly (this does the same as sieving but with 5% of the effort). Let me tell you about bicarb and tartar! Together, these magical powders create baking powder, but used separately they’re much better for rising (I find…). One is an alkali, and one is an acid, and their reaction forms the rising in your baked goods! Also, you can use cream of tartar to stabilise whisked egg whites.
Cut your fats into chunks and add them to the dry ingredients. You now need to rub the fat and dry ingredients together until you end up with the dry ingredients looking slightly damp. Put your hands in, and rub with your thumb across your fingers. Ahhhh, put some dolphin sounds on and chill out…
Now, add your raisins and then your milk, mixing into a sort of dough in your bowl. Turn this dough out onto a floured surface and knead a little, don’t over knead, just make sure everything is combined. Flatted your dough down instead of rolling, an uneven surface on a scone gives it so much character! You want it about 3cm thick.
Cut out your scones using a crinkle edged cutter, I’m not fussy about the size, go for whatever size you want! Arrange them on a baking sheet quite close together. Brush the tops with milk and then place in the oven.
They only take about 10 minutes to bake, so keep an eye on them!
They’re undoubtedly best eaten warm, but they do freeze well. Enjoy!