MY BASIC SCONE RECIPE
It took me years to be able to make a decent scone, but once I’d learned the knack there was no stopping me. I’m now employed to make them for a local coffee shop and I must have made at least 30-40 thousand scones over the past half dozen years. You could say that I’m now well practised!
My recipe never varies and I have a few golden rules for both the recipe and the method that I’ll explain as I go along. To make about 8 – 10 decent sized scones you’ll need the following simple ingredients:
450g of self-raising flour
50g of caster sugar
150g of cold butter, cut into dice
2 medium free range eggs made up to 9 fluid ounces with milk
50g of dried fruit such as currants or sultanas (optional)
A note or two about ingredients:
- I never use baking powder when making scones – this is mostly because I don’t like the taste of it, but also because the use of free range eggs and, in particular, self raising flour make it unnecessary
- always use butter if possible as this gives the best flavour. Use the butter cold, straight from the fridge
- caster sugar isn’t essential – granulated, or even brown sugar, will do just as well
- I like to use free range eggs from our own hens just because of the colour of the yolks, but don’t worry if free range are not available – just use whatever you have
- as you practice making scones you’ll realise that the absorbency of flour can vary from time to time and from brand to brand. This means that occasionally you may need to use a little more or a little less liquid than 9 fluid ounces. With practice you’ll be able to tell this from the feel of the dough.
You’ll also need:
- a coupled of well greased baking trays (use butter for greasing)
- a round scone/biscuit cutter
- a rolling pin
- a measuring jug
- Preheat the oven to 210°C
- Weigh the flour and sugar into a roomy bowl and stir them lightly together
- Put the cold, diced butter into the bowl and gently rub it into the flour and sugar until the mixture is like fine breadcrumbs (this stage may be done in a food processor if you wish)
- If you are making fruit scones, add the dried fruit to the bowl at this stage
- Mix the eggs and milk together with a fork until they are well combined
- Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and tip most of the egg and milk into this. Keep back about a tablespoon of the egg/milk mixture to brush onto the top of the scones before they go into the oven – this will give them a nice golden glaze
- Use a fork to mix the egg and milk into the rest of the ingredients. When they are almost combined, use your hands instead to bring the mixture together
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it gently for a minute or two until the dough is smooth. In my disastrous attempts at scone making years ago this is one of the points where I went wrong – I always thought the dough had to be handled as little as possible, but in actual fact it’s not harmed at all by a bit of gentle kneading!
- Roll the dough out to a thickness of about 3-4 centimetres
- The number of scones you make from this mixture will depend on the diameter of the cutter you are using. Dip the cutter into some flour first and then press it down into the dough. When cutting the scones out don’t twist the cutter as you press it down – this will distort the sides of the scone and make it rise unevenly
- Place the scones onto the baking trays, leaving at least an inch of space in between them, and brush the tops of the scones with the remaining dregs of egg and milk.
- Bake the scones for about 15 minutes or until they are well risen and golden brown
- Transfer the scones to a wire rack to cool.
- At the earliest opportunity, spread the scones lavishly with butter and jam and enjoy the fruits of your labours!
I’m dedicating this recipe to my friend Joanne – flatmate and fellow novice home cook years ago in Jesmond, Newcastle Upon Tyne. Hopefully she eventually got the knack too!