Wednesday, 19 November 2014


You can't have a tearoom without having scones. That would be madness.
If you're not familiar with them, scones are a kind of quick bread - usually made with flour, fat and baking powder (you could argue that they are actually a form of pastry, but I'd recommend that you quit taking things so seriously). 
Opinion is divided on the pronunciation of the word scone at the tearoom. Mike favours rhyming it with cone (which is the Southern English and American pronunciation), I prefer rhyming it with gone, like the rest of the North of England, Scotland and Canada). We have reached a compromise where whoever makes them decides. Which is me. Buahaha*
We make two types of scone - sweet and savoury. The savoury scone I'll write about another day, but the sweet scone is a classic tearoom treat. Light, fluffy and slathered with butter and jam is my favoured method of eating them, but the classic jam and cream is always popular.
To paraphrase the old saying, a good scone is hard to find. I've eaten far too many that are dry, doughy or tough. A scone should be light, buttery and melt in the mouth. The secret is to use butter (sorry vegans! Though coconut butter makes a rich, exotic scone that is pretty awesome too), to take care rubbing the four and butter together (lumps of butter left in there will give the scone a slightly weird flaky texture) and to handle the dough as little as possible (easier said than done!)

300g strong white flour
75g butter 
2tsp baking powder
50g sugar (though you an use a substitute like apple syrup or stevia if you want it sugar free)
1 egg, whisked
75ml cream
50ml milk (optional)

Preheat the oven to 190C. Rub together the four and butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. This will take about 5 minutes but feel like 10,000 lifetimes.  To the radio. John Finnemore's souvenir programme is about half an hour long, you'll have scones by the end of an episode! As the baking powder cand sugar (for sugar free scones you could add apple syrup or sugar free jam for a fruity scone). Whisk together the egg and cream and add to the flour. Quickly mix into a soft dough, adding a little milk if it seems dry.
There are two ways you can proceed. Option one is the traditional method - roll out about 3 - 4cm thick and cut into rounds with a 7cm cutter (pressing sharply down rather than twisting to ensure an even rise) and arrange on a baking tray. Brush with milk if you want to be fancy and bake for 15 minutes, or until the tops are pale gold.
Method two is good if you don't have a suitable cutter. Roll the dough into a rough circle 3 - 4cm thick. Brush with milk if you feel like it. Then using a sharp knife, mark the circle into 6 pieces radiating out from the centre like the spokes of a wheel. Game for 20 - 25 minutes, or until golden and will risen.
Turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool. Serve with jam and cream, or a smear of butter, and cup of tea.

Of course, a plain scone is a thing of beauty, but that doesn't mean you can't mix things up. Try adding chopped dried fruit and nuts, or grated cheese mixed with diced chillies or finely shredded spring onions. Here are a few other ideas.
Cherry Scones: Replace the sugar with 50g of diced glace cherries
Date & Walnut: Replace the sugar with 30g chopped dates & 20g chopped walnuts
Spiced: 1/2 tsp each of cinnamon & mixed spice and 50g dried mixed fruit (my favourite!)

*Simple pleasures, my friends 

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