I asked the maid in dulcet tone
To order me a buttered scone;
The silly girl has been and gone
And ordered me a buttered scone.
However you pronounce the word everyone loves a scone, we are eating our way through North Devon and the Devonshire Cream Tea is a big favourite. To my mind, at least a large pot of freshly brewed tea and a plate of warm scones ready to be smothered in clotted cream ( never whipped and just don’t even bother with a tin of squirty cream ) and strawberry jam is one of civilisations greatest treats. There is some controversy between those great rivals Devon and Cornwall as to the correct way of eating a scone, cream, and jam or scone, jam, and cream, but they are united on no butter.
Families all have their own favoured recipes; my mum used the Bero flour baking book and the recipes can often include raisins or currents and even mixed peel and glacé cherries. In America blueberry scones are popular, you can also make savoury scones with ingredients such as cheese, bacon, onion, dill, and chives, cheese scones are almost the New Zealand national dish. The baked scone should not be confused with the dropped scone, or drop scone, which is like a pancake, and made by dropping or pouring batter onto a hot griddle or frying pan to cook it.
Now we haven’t visited too many gardens and stately homes on our holiday as the girls are a little young, we did discover Clovelly* and it’s fantastic almost vertical cobbled streets, but the author Sarah Clelland seems to have the almost perfect job she has visited and wrote about scones at over a hundred National Trust properties. I’m not sure I can think of ten different scone recipes so maybe I need to go try some more. In the meantime, here is my go-to scone recipe.
*We discovered Clovelly has a Channel Islands connection and was used as a location for the film ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’. Just don’t ever ask why Guernsey was not a location.
Classic Sweet Scone Recipe
The secret to making light crumbly scones is to handle the dough as little and as lightly as possible. Many recipes call for buttermilk, this is not always easy to get hold of, so this recipe substitutes a little lemon juice and milk. The acid helps activate the baking powder to aerate the scone mix.
350 gr Self Raising Flour, plus more for dusting
85 gr cold unsalted Butter, cut into cubes
175 ml Full Fat Milk
40 gr Golden Caster Sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
A generous pinch of Salt
A beaten egg with a little milk for the glaze
Pre-heat your oven to 425 F / 200 C / Gas Mark 7. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a large bowl and using a metal whisk, mix thoroughly together. Add the butter then rub into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. Add the golden caster sugar and gently mix in with a fork.
Pour the milk into a small heavy-bottomed pan and warm over a low heat. It does not want to boil or form a skin it should be just warm to the touch. Add the lemon juice and stir, make a dip in the middle of your crumb mix, add the milk and quickly combine with the fork. Once the mix comes together to stop, it is really important from now on to try not to overwork the dough.
Now comes the slightly mess part, sprinkle some extra flour on to your work surface, over the dough and onto your hands, tip the dough on to the flour and gently knead it three or four times to make a smooth formed ball of dough. Sprinkle a little more flour then gently pat the dough down until it is a level four centimetres thick. Take your cutter or a sharp cook’s knife if you prefer diamonds and press straight into the dough trying not to twist. Place the cut scones onto a flat baking tray. Combine any remaining dough into a ball and press into the cutter, this last scone will probably not rise as much as the others. Brush the scones with the egg wash and carefully place into your oven.
Bake for ten minutes until the scones are risen and golden on the top. Eat still warm, generously topped with jam and clotted cream. The scones can be frozen, defrosted and warmed through in the oven.
Allergens in this recipe are;