The other day the BF decided to invite a couple of friends to a picnic. This involved tea and, well, not much else. So he asked me to make some scones. I had NEVER made scones before and actually thought them to be quite complicated to make (silly me). So I went onto my favourite recipe website to find a recipe. Here I found an awesome one from Good Taste Magazine which gives you a step by step guide and the reasons why you do what you do.
I was amazed to find out that not only did they turn out pretty well (they really did) but they also lacked that bicarby taste that so many scones have now-a-days. Needless to say, I have gone on a bit of a scone frenzy since then – baking them 3 times in one week and trying to perfect the recipe and, you know, trying to save the whip cream from going off.
I have adapted it ever so slightly.
450g (3 cups) self-raising flour
1 tbs caster sugar
80g butter, grated, at room temperature
250mls (1 cup) milk, at room temperature
Self-raising flour, extra
1. Preheat oven to 220°C. Measure all your ingredients. Combine the self-raising flour and caster sugar in a medium bowl. Use your fingertips to rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. To help incorporate some air into the mixture, keep the palms of your hands face-up as you lift the flour to rub in the butter. This will help make the scones lighter in texture. I have found that room-temperature butter gives a better result than chilled butter in scones. It is also easier to incorporate into the flour when at room temperature. Butter helps give the scones a tender texture as well as adding flavour.
2. Add the milk all at once. Use a round- bladed knife to mix together using a cutting motion until evenly incorporated and the mixture begins to hold together. Do not over mix. Again, I have found that room-temperature milk is better to use in scones than milk straight from the fridge. The flour mixture needs less mixing to incorporate the room-temperature milk evenly, resulting in a lighter texture. The dough should be soft but not sticky. If it is a little dry, simply add a little more milk. Then bring dough together with your hands.
3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently about 4-5 times with your hands, by pressing and then turning, until the dough is just smooth. It is important that you knead gently and don’t handle the dough too much. If it is overworked, gluten in the flour will develop which will cause the scones to be tough in texture and heavy.
4. Use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll out the dough until about 2cm thick (I found the thicker you roll it the higher the scones rise, this does however mean a slightly longer cooking time). Alternatively, you can flatten the dough with the palm of your hand. Then use a round 5cm pastry cutter to cut out the scones. Dip the cutter into the extra flour before cutting out each scone. Use a straight-down motion to cut out the scones. Do not twist the cutter as this will cause the scones to rise unevenly during cooking. You can re-roll any scraps and cut more scones; however, these will be slightly less tender than the scones cut from the original dough and will rise less evenly.
5. As you cut out the scones, place them on a baking tray about 1cm apart. Placing them this close together will also help them rise evenly. I have found there is no need to grease or flour the tray. Sprinkle the tops of the scones with a little extra flour. Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden and cooked through. The best way to tell if the scones are cooked is to tap the top of one with your fingertips – if it sounds hollow when tapped, they are ready. Alternatively, insert a skewer into a scone – if it comes out clean, they are ready.
6. If you like soft crust scones, once you have removed the scones from the oven, immediately wrap them in a clean tea towel. Serve warm with lashings of butter or with jam and whipped or thick cream.