One of the most popular baked products in the world with hundreds of different recipes and old mama’s who claim to know the best recipe (which is inadvertently always theirs or their mothers). We used to make about 100 of them every day whilst I was at The Westcliff Hotel working as a trainee chef. Before starting anything or any other prep you’d line up all your scone ingredients and get the huge bread kneading machine ready.
Ideally scones should be made with your hands, like your grandmother used to make them. Kneading them with a machine results in a more dense scone. The way a scone is judged is on how crispy it’s crust is and how flaky and soft it’s crumb is. The more you knead and press it the more dense it becomes. I grew up always believing scones were shapeless, brown rock-like cakes that had no flavour. As time and qualifications came into my life I learned the power of a good scone. Whilst in England I had what they call “cream tea” which I came to learn meant tea with a scone covered in clotted cream and jam. I was told that a scone is meant to be eaten with the filling on top (and not inside it like a sandwich, this recommendation was always followed by some remark about Americans and no culture and stuff like that…).
You’ll see this recipe has Buttermilk instead of milk. Buttermilk is key. It makes for a softer scone and a moist crumb. Please don’t knead the dough too much. Also only reshape the off-cuts once (yes, it does lead to a lot of dough being thrown away if you’re careless with your cookie cutter, so cut carefully). Use a deep enough ring cutter, you shouldn’t roll the dough out too thinly either.
4 teaspoons baking powder
2¼ tsp salt
100g cold butter (NB not soft butter. Cut into cubes)
85g caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
*milk (for brushing)
– Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl
– Pour the dry ingredients out onto a clean, dry surface
– Chop the cold butter into the flour with a palette knife and rub the butter into the flour with your hands until the flour resembles fine breadcrumbs
– Create a well in the middle of the flour and pour the Buttermilk in and mix in slowly, little by little until the dough comes together. Do not over mix
– Pour the dough out onto a floured surface and roll flat with a rolling pin. Cut into round with a cookie cutter
– Rest the cut scones in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes before baking them.
– Brush the surface of the scones with milk and bake on a greased tray in an oven at 220 degrees until golden brown.