When I was a child and my mum used to make scones I was always a little bit disappointed because they lacked the chocolate, sprinkles or mountain of icing I normally enjoyed with my baked goods… and my mum made a lot of amazing baked goods. However as an adult have learned to appreciate their simple magic. Although they seem to be easy to make from a method perspective, ensuring that your scones are light, fluffy and rise right up takes a couple of little tricks, which I will share throughout.
Traditional British scones
350g self-raising flour, plus more for dusting
A heaped 1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
85g butter, cut into cubes
3 tablespoons caster sugar
125ml buttermilk or 125ml milk and a squeeze of lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beaten egg to glaze
Preheat your oven to 200C. Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Place your milk or buttermilk in the microwave for 30 seconds. Heating it helps to activate your raising agents and make the scones pop right up. If you are using milk add the squeeze of lemon juice and set aside for a moment. Add the vanilla extract. Again the acid in the lemon juice mimics the acid in the buttermilk which also works on the raising agent. Pop a baking sheet the oven.
Make a well in middle of the flour mixture and add the milk or buttermilk mixture. Mix together quickly using an eating knife. If your dough needs some help to come together you can use your hands but work the dough as little as possible or your scones will be tough.
Spread some flour over a work surface and place your dough on it. Dust the flour with dough as well as your rolling pin and roll the dough out to about 4cm deep. Again, work the dough as little as possible. You can now cut the scones to whatever size you prefer. I like my scones about 5cm across but you can make smaller or bigger ones. If you can, use a pastry or scone cutter to cut the dough and cut straight down without twisting. If you don’t use a proper cutter or if you twist the cutter you will seal the side of the scone and it won’t rise properly. Keep pressing the dough together to cut more scones.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and place the scones on it. Brush the top of each scone with a little beaten egg. If your scones are smaller than 5cm, bake for 10 minutes, if 5cm 15 minutes and if larger about 17. They should be golden brown and well risen.
The best time to eat scones is when they’re still warm and definitely on the day they were made. Serve with thick cream and the jam of your choice. Whether the jam goes on the bottom or the cream is a subject of great British debate. As you can see from my picture below, I think the cream belongs at the bottom!
Makes 6 – 12 scones