I recently wrote about flatbreads, and how they are probably the simplest flour recipe there is. Scones are probably the second simplest, and almost as easy. From bag of flour to tasty treat in less than twenty minutes. Whether you are constructing a classic Devon Cream Tea, or just want some quick cheese scones for a savoury nibble you can’t really go wrong: make ‘em, don’t buy ‘em.
Once you’ve got the idea of the basic recipe, you’ll find some variations at the end, including Drop Scones and Soda Bread.
As well as the ingredients listed below, you will also need a good baking sheet or tin, and a cookie cutter – any size you like. No cookie cutter? Improvise with a clean empty food can or jar. Or buy cookie cutters – once you have realised how easy it is to make scones, there will be no holding you back.
Click here to view Kitchen Craft Cookie Cutters from Amazon
To prepare the baking tin or sheet (non-stick or otherwise): grease all over with a light coating of butter, lard, oil or other fat. Dust with flour all over, and shake off the excess.
You will also need a cake rack, grid or grill on which to cool the scones.
Preheat the oven to: Gas Mark 7/220C/425F
Basic Scone Recipe:
8oz/225gram self raising flour or plain/all purpose flour with baking powder added to the quantity suggested on the pack – it’s best to go by the manufacturer’s recommendation as some baking powders have more “rise” than others, but the quantity will be somewhere around a heaped teaspoon for this amount of flour.
A good pinch of salt (important even for sweet scones)
Approximately 1/4 pint/.150ml milk or milk and water mixed
Optional: a little icing/confectioners sugar for dusting after cooking.
Sieve the flour with the baking powder (if used) and the salt. Rub in the butter – by all means do it in a mixer or food processor. Add the milk (or milk and water), mixing to a soft dough. You may need a little more or a little less liquid, depending on your flour and the general humidity – you are looking for a dough that holds together and rolls easily, but is not too wet and sticky. Roll out onto a lightly floured board until about 1/4inch/1/2centimetre thick. Make rounds with the cookie cutter, re-rolling spare dough until it is all used up. Put the rounds onto the prepared tin, and place in the oven for around 8-10 minutes – perhaps a little longer if you have used a big cookie cutter, or made the scones extra thick.
Once baked, leave to cool a little on a cake rack. They can be served cold, but are best when warm. Scones will just about keep for 24 hours if kept in an airtight container, but should really be eaten on the day (preferably within the hour) you make them.
Once cooled, dust with a little icing/confectioners sugar if you wish.
To serve as a Devon Cream Tea: split the scones in half, spread each half with clotted cream (whipped cream if clotted cream is not available in your area, though it will not be quite authentic) then with strawberry (or raspberry – there is some debate) jam. A Cornish Cream Tea, by the way, is jam first, then the cream. Serve with a pot of tea.
A little tip: if you want to annoy someone from Devon, call it a Devonshire Cream Tea: there is no such place as Devonshire.
Yoghurt Scone Variation: instead of milk in the dough mix, use plain live yoghurt in roughly the same quantities as above – you may need a little more or less. The yoghurt gives a nice “tang” to the finished scone, whether sweet or savoury, and the lactic acid reacts with the raising agent to give a lighter scone.
Savoury Cheese Scones:
Add two ounces/55gram grated strong cheese – a cheddar, say, or parmesan/pecorino or a mixture, plus a good pinch of cayenne pepper to the basic or yoghurt mix, and cook as above.
Sweet Scones: Add two ounces/55gram of caster/fine granulated sugar to the basic or yoghurt mix, then brush the scones with milk or beaten egg and dust with a sprinkle of sugar just before baking.
Honey and Nut Scones: Add two tablespoons/30ml/1fluid oz of honey and one ounce/30 grams of chopped walnuts to the basic or yoghurt mix.
Fruit Scones: add two ounces/55grams dried fruit such as sultanas, raisins or currants (or a mixture) to the Sweet Scone Mix. You can pre-soak the fruit in milk, brandy or rum before using, if you like.
Anything You Like Scones: once you’ve got the idea, add, well, anything you like…
Drop Scones, Girdle or Griddle Scones: double the quantity of liquid in the basic mix. Drop spoonfuls into a greased pan and fry gently, turning occasionally – the whole process will take around 6-8 minutes.
Soda Bread: omit the fat from the basic mix, and cook in one piece for around 20-30 minutes