Scones - who doesn't love them? Despite the endless quibbling about how to pronounce the name, whether you put the jam on first or the cream, serve them with coffee, tea or champagne, the fact remains that this small soft cross between a cake and a biscuit has a special place in our hearts.
My nana was a woman before her time; she was one of the first women in England to qualify as a schoolteacher, and continued to defy the conventions of her age by raising her children alone. Such a life didn't leave much time or money for entertaining; enter the scone.
Quick and inexpensive to make with ingredients to hand, scones have made us happy for hundreds of years, and no afternoon tea is complete without them. Different recipes abound - with fruit or without, made with lemonade, flavoured with pumpkin, enriched with cheese...the list is endless.
This recipe is the starting point, light, buttery and full of flavour. Begin here, and the world of scones is at your feet...
The trick to success with scones is to keep everything cool, and to work the dough only as much as necessary to combine ingredients, but no more. Incorporating as much air as possible into the mix will also make for a light and fluffy result; it's for this reason that I choose to sift my dry ingredients. Whipping some air into the buttermilk and egg mixture further supports this aeration.
Once your scones come out of the oven, tall and golden, you can wrap them in a clean cloth to keep them warm, the steam this generates will prevent them from drying out. Should you need to re-heat them, just a few minutes in the oven will bring them back. But they're so easy and so quick, they really deserve to be made and eaten on the day, with whatever combination of jam and cream is your particular fancy...enjoy!
- 450g self raising flour
- 175g cold unsalted butter (cut into 2cm cubes)
- 2 large pinches salt
- 75g golden caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon custard powder
- 2 large free range eggs
- 6 tablespoons buttermilk plus extra for glazing
- Preheat oven to 175c fan forced/190 non fan forced
- [b]Magimix Cook Expert method[/b]:
- Place eggs and buttermilk in main bowl fitted with whisk attachment and set Whisk programme for 1 minute Speed 7. Pour mixture into a small bowl and set aside.
- Sift flour, salt and custard powder and place in main bowl with the cold butter.
- Process mixture on Expert programme Speed 18, using the pulse button to create a breadcrumb-like mixture with no large lumps of butter visible. Tip mixture into a large bowl , add sugar, stir through and proceed with general instructions.
- [b]Food processor/hand method[/b]:
- Whisk eggs and buttermilk together until light and frothy.
- Sift flour, salt, and custard powder into a bowl and either cut in the butter using the pulse function of a processor, or by hand by rubbing in or using a pastry blender. The aim is to achieve a breadcrumb-like mixture without melting the butter, so work/process quickly. Add sugar and stir through. Tip into a large bowl and proceed with general instructions.
- [b]General instructions[/b]:
- Add the buttermilk and egg mixture to the flour and bring together quickly and lightly using a spatula. It will be a fairly wet, sticky dough.
- Generously flour your work surface and gently turn the dough out. Flour your hands well.
- To bring the dough together, use a technique called 'chaffing' - push the heel of your hand into the dough one or two times, tuck the edges of the dough underneath, and flip the ball over. Repeat this process 3-5 times, but remember this is not bread dough and you are not kneading, just looking to bring it together in a manageable ball.
- Flour your rolling pin and rolling the dough gently from the middle outwards until it is 3cm/1 1/4" deep (resist the urge to roll it any thinner, you want to keep as much height as possible).
- Use the cutter of your choice to form the shape - cut straight down, don't twist as you push or remove.
- Release gently from the cutter and place onto the tray; it is not necessary to have the scones touching. Continue until all the dough is used, re-rolling the remainder until you have approx 12 pieces.
- Glaze the scones gently with the remaining buttermilk and egg mixture and bake on the top shelf of the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and tall.