Sunday, May 1, 2011

Classic Scones

My first experience with scones dates back to more than a decade ago when I first visited "the other side of the pond." It was right before my senior year of high school and I was in England for one of those see-15-European-countries-in-two-weeks tours. I fell in love with Britain so much that a few years later I decided to partake in a study abroad experience there. But during that first trip, I tried something so delicious that it would stick with me all of these years: a scone.

Scones are a bit sweeter than an American biscuit and are typically eaten with jam and something called "clotted cream"—a slightly heavier and creamier version of whipped or Chantilly cream. I love scones because they're light (not to be confused with healthy!), contain the perfect amount of sweetness, and are just plain good!

I've tried American versions of scones several times, but in my opinion, they all fall short to their British counterpart. First, and I know this is probably a personal preference, but I think scones should be round like a biscuit—not in the shape of a triangle. They should also be light and fluffy, not heavy and brick-like. And while I think adding some lemon or orange zest, or even some currents or cranberries would be great additions, I prefer a simple, classic scone that tastes good. American varieties like to make theirs more like a muffin and over saturate them with too many flavors.

Now that I've giving you my background with scones, you can see why I'm so excited about these. I made these for the Royal Wedding and literally can't stop eating them. I asked a few of my British friends for a classic scone recipe, and my friend Katie sent me this "fool proof" version below. Fool proof is right—I can't believe how easy they are to make, not to mention how delicious the dough tastes (don't judge; I had to do a quality check)! And when you're making these, keep in mind another tip from my Irish friend Lucy, "Use buttermilk which is starting to go off—makes the scones taste amazing!"

Traditionally, you top a scone with jam and clotted cream, but my first attempt at making the mouthwatering topping came up very, very short, so I used whipped cream instead. I will learn how to make some proper clotted cream and will link it back here.

Classic Scones
adapted from Gary Rhodes
makes around 8 scones

225g (8 ounces) plain flour
15g (1 tsp) baking powder
pinch of salt
25g (1 oz) sugar
50g (2 oz) butter
15 g (1 tsp) vanilla extract
150ml (1/4 pint or 2/3 cup) buttermilk
1 egg, beaten (optional)

Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F). Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Stir in sugar. Cut butter into cubes, and rub it into flour mixture until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. (You can use a pastry cutter, but rubbing it does get the job done a bit faster. Plus it's kinda fun!)

Stir in vanilla and buttermilk, a little at a time, to form a smooth dough. (You may need up to 1/4 cup more flour to get a non-sticky consistency.) Let rest for at least 10 minutes or wrap in cling-wrap and leave in the refrigerator overnight. 

Roll out on a lightly floured surface until 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick (pictured above are around 1/2-inch). Using a 2-inch cookie/biscuit cutter (or the top of a round drinking glass), cut dough. Just tap/push down; twisting tends to create an uneven rise. Once the scones have been cut, work together unused trimmings into a ball, roll out again, and re-cut until all of the mix has been used.

Brush each scone lightly with the beaten egg for a glossy finish or leave as is for a matte finish.

Place scones on greased baking tray and bake for 10 to 14 minutes until golden. Remove and allow to cool slightly.

Serve  scones with tea while still warm (they can be left to completely cool and microwaved quickly to rewarm), preferably with the British classics of strawberry jam and clotted cream.
(Other options: 50g (2 oz) of mixed sultanas and currants can be added for fruity scones. Sugar can be omitted for plain savory scones. 50g (2 oz) of grated Parmesan cheese or cheddar cheese can be added, with a good pinch of English mustard, for homemade cheese scones. Freshly chopped thyme can also be added to the savory scones)


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  2. These scones sound great. I've never tried making my own before, I really want to now. :)

  3. Yum! I <3 scones! I made mine the other day with currants! I made them round as well!

  4. SO wish I wasn't dieting at the moment. YUM!

  5. Holy crap scones with clotted cream are SOOO good. If you're close a Wegmans grocery store, they sell clotted cream there. And it's delish!

  6. I love scones! And I saw your picture on foodgawker...congratulations!!! I have yet to make it on there...but my pics aren't that great. Oh well. Any tips??


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