I served so many scones at our recent “cream teas in the orchard” event that they filled the entire picnic basket:
Scones are about technique rather than recipe: the secret to success is to handle the dough as little as possible. Do not knead like bread – combine the ingredients until just mixed and then stop handling the dough.
The other important tip is one I gathered from Frances Bissell in her brilliant book The Floral Baker: “put the scones close together on the baking sheet to encourage them to rise well and evenly” (page 31, The Floral Baker). Doing this also ensures soft, fluffy edges to your scones.
If you are going to use a pastry cutter to stamp out your scones make sure it is a sharp one; a blunt one will give you hard, squashed-down edges to your scones. I have dispensed with stamping out scones altogether and use the “sliced sausage” method described in the recipe below.
Prep. Time: about 10 minutes
Cooking time: about 15 to 20 minutes
Makes 6 to 8 scones
Plain flour 225g
Baking powder 2 tsp
Pinch of salt
Butter, chilled and diced 50g
Sugar 1 Tbsp
Buttermilk (or yoghurt mixed with water) 150 ml
1) Preheat the oven to 200°C.
2) Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and rub the butter in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
3) Stir in the sugar and make a hollow in the centre. Pour in enough buttermilk to produce a soft but not sticky dough.
4) Place on a floured work surface and roll the dough into a “sausage” about 20 cm in length.
5) Using a sharp knife, slice the dough into rounds and place these next to one another on a lined baking sheet.
6) Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes until well-risen and golden in colour.