How to bake perfect scones - a perfect scone recipe...
Scones appear to be a thing of great debate.
Plain, fruit or cheese?
Plain or self raising?
Egg or no egg?
Jam, butter or cream?
For me, scones can be plain or cheese, but never fruit.
I pronounce the word skon and cringe at skoun.
I have a preference for plain flour with some complicated additions.
And either way, they must be eaten directly from the oven, slathered in butter and perhaps just a skerrick of jam...
When I was little, scones were apparently the first thing I learned to cook with my Mum. She remembers this still.
They were a staple in our home, for tea* on a Sunday. Straight from the oven, risen and billowing, fluted and crusty on top.
The recipe I always used growing up came from a battered and very much loved copy of the Good Housekeeping's Picture Recipe Book circa 1953. (I presume this must have belonged to my Granny...either way, it was, and still is, my favourite cookery book.)
This book has been misplaced in recent years - so many house moves and renovations has seen it lost.
So my once fail proof scone recipe has needed to be revised.
I have a close friend whose father is Italian and mother is English, and she explained to me that her Mother's scones are better than anyone's for the use of fine Italian 00 pasta flour.
I have a number of notes and memories of the brilliant baking qualities of lard.
Another friend swears by buttermilk as the liquid.
And for the raising agent, to make those scones rise and billow so beautifully? I have experimented and truly believe that sifting through a mixture of bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar to the flour is the absolute winner for light fluffy scones. (Self raising doesn't seem to get the lift?)
I could not remember whether my original recipe called for an egg or not. So, first thing this morning I rang my Mum and asked her - and quick as a flash she instinctively said "no, no egg" with such clear headed conviction that I left out the egg - which makes sense to me. An egg would make a scone perhaps a little more cake like?
So I give you my Perfect Scone Recipe. With thanks to friends and family for allowing me to pinch their tips and experiment on them. (Makes 12)
500g 00 plain flour. (This is fine Italian pasta flour. But a good quality plain white flour that has been triple sifted would do.)
1 heaped teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
2 heaped teaspoons of cream of tartar
25g caster sugar
1 teaspoon salt
65g butter, cubed
65g lard, cubed
275ml buttermilk* (if you have none, you can always just add a tablespoon of lemon juice normal milk and leave it out on the bench for a while...)
1. Preheat the oven to 210`c
2. Sift the dry ingredients into a big mixing bowl
3. Add the chilled and cubed butter and lard and rub in just using your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
4. Add the buttermilk and stir in with a palette knife to combine
5. Using your hands, bring the dough together to make a soft dough
6. Tip out onto a floured work surface and pat into a circle about 3cm high
7. Using a fluted cutter dipped in flour, cut the scones out and place wide apart on a floured baking sheet.
8. Bake for 12 minutes
9. Once you take them from the oven, place on a cooling rack.
10. Serve immediately with butter or jam or cream...
How about you? Skon or skoun?
* I ignored the concept of scones being a tea time treat. I baked a perfect batch of scones today right on midday. The fab five ate scones with butter, jam and cream for lunch. Is that very bad?!