I have NEVER had a good scone from a supermarket or bakery. They may look good but I was always disappointed by the hard, chewy textures. Even when I made my first scone in Home Ec, it was a big fat fail. In my mind, scones are supposed to be soft and fluffy inside so that when you bite in to it, there is the textural differences between that and the crumble exterior (maybe not crumble, but it isn't hard or crispy!).
I had pretty much given up on scones, until I went to Poole in the summer of 2011.
Poole is a coastal town at the southern coast of England and I was there for a couple of months on business. During the last month I was there, M and I had come across this tearoom and decided to go in as it looked very mysterious and very different to the rest of the town centre.
As we entered the small archway, we walked through this very narrow old stone alley and in to, what looked like someone's kitchen. There was very limited seating but then you go across the small beautiful courtyard and in to this other room (which looked like a converted shed) that was much more comfortable and roomy.
It was in this room that I tried the best scones I have ever tasted in my life. I had never tasted anything like it and to have it with clotted cream (that was a first for me too) and jam, was just heaven! I will never forget it and nor will I forget the lovely owner who took the time out to talk to me about her tearoom, how she sourced her teapots, even gave me the name of the company that supplied her teas to her and let me have a special blend of tea that I chose myself.
As soon as I returned to Scotland, I had this huge urge to look for a great scone recipe and perfect it. When I finally got the results I was after, I vowed I would never share my scone recipe.
Yeah, I caved.
This recipe is so easy to do and it will make you regret having ever bought those awful supermarket ones again.
- Handle the dough as little as possible - working it too much will cause the gluten in the flour to start working, creating a tougher scone.
- It's okay to use a food processor to blend the flour and butter together - as long as you pulse it just enough to get to the "breadcrumb" stage then you will be fine. Saves you time and cramps in the fingers.
- Don't be tempted in to adding more flour! The dough is meant to be quite damp/sticky so lightly flouring your fingers and counter should be sufficient. If you add more flour you will end up with tough, dry scones.
- When you lift the cutter from the dough, don't twist to release - this will prevent the scone from rising properly.
- Make sure you egg wash doesn't run down the sides of the scones, this will prevent a good rise.
- Preheat your baking sheet - the initial heat will start the cooking process as soon as the scones hit the sheet, which gives a more even bake and a better rise.
- Don't worry about making "perfect" shaped scones - there is no such thing. Rustic looks pretty perfect to me and as long as they taste great, who cares what they look like!
Scones (makes approx 8)
350g Self Raising Flour
pinch of Salt
1 tsp Baking Powder
3 tbsp Caster Sugar
85g Cold Butter, cubed
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Squeeze of Lemon Juice
Beaten Egg for glazing
- Preheat oven to 220ºC.
- Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder then stir in the sugar.
- Place it in the food processor, along with the cold butter and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Put it all in a bowl afterwards.
- Warm the milk in the microwave for approximately 30 secs. Ensure it is warm and not hot!
- Add the lemon juice and vanilla.
- Make a well in the flour and pour the milk mixture in to the well.
- Using a cutlery knife, combine the flour and milk until it just comes together. Try not to work it too much.
- Tip the dough on to your floured worktop and using your floured fingertips, fold the dough 2-3times just to smooth the dough out.
- Pat the dough in to a disc, about 4cm thick.
- Dip a 5cm cutter in to flour and plunge it in to the dough to cut out scones. Gently press the leftovers together and repeat the patting down and cutting until you have no dough left.
- Brush the tops with the egg and then place them (carefully!) on the hot baking sheet.
If you can't finish it, freeze them once they have cooled. Defrost before refreshing them in a preheated oven (160ºC) for a few minutes.