I grew up going to the Regent hotel for high tea and dragging my brother A with me. Scones with whipped cream. One year after I left my first job, A brought me high tea at Regent to celebrate my changing jobs. How sweet. With his meager school pocket money – there’s a huge age gap between us.
So scones hold a special place in my heart. But not one who can successfully bake, I was so hesitant to try. During home economics class, I couldnt understand what my teacher was saying. For “exams”, – yes we had exams for baking rock buns, my mom had to make sure I practiced baking once, so I won’t get a red mark.
Last week, on a rainy Sunday afternoon with nowhere to go – I decided to bake scones – which turned out to be not successful. L said they tasted good. Look like biscuits but taste like scones. I reflected that it is a compliment because L loves biscuits. (NB: It was flat because the dough must be thick – at least 5 cm. Fresh baking powder and bi-carb is important too, in order to ensure rising.)
265g self-raising flour or strong breadflour
1/2 tsp taking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
65g caster sugar (reduce if you dont like it sweet)
3/4 tsp salt (I use sea salt flakes)
130g butter (cool)
100 ml buttermilk (or milk – add dash lemon to allow it to rise if you use milk)
1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees celsius. While there’s different opinion on whether scones is made with plain flour, self-raising or bread-flour, buttermilk or just plain milk, everyone agrees oven must be very very very hot. Including CL.
2. Sieve flour, baking powder, bicarb into bowl.
3. Add sugar, salt and mix.
4. Cut butter into cubes, then cut into dry ingredients until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
5. Add buttermilk in portions to make soft non-sticky dough. Stop if you feel that dough is too sticky. I pop the dough into the fridge sometimes if its too sticky.
6. Lay baking powder on working table. (Some books advise flouring your table). Take 1/2 of the dough, shape into lump 5 cm thick. Use hands to pat surface smooth.
7. Dip scone cutter in flour and plunge into dough. Lift out (don’t twist). Place on baking tray. (I use a small cutter to make scones that pop in mouth at one go. Dipping scone cutter in flour ensures that the dough comes off neatly and not stick to cutter.)
8. Dip cutter in flour again, cut into scone, lift and repeat process.
9. Use a pastry brush to wash left over butter-milk on scones.
10. Bake for about 15 mins until scones are golden brown and have risen.
Serve hot or cold with jam, cream or butter.
[Recipe inspired by Marian Keyes “Saved by Cake”. She’s a novelist and amateur baker who wrote the cook book journaling her baking experiences which saved her from nervous breakdown, in between highly successful author of fiction paperback.]