I'm not sure there's anything more delicious or quintessentially British than my favourite tea-time treat, the classic scone. Add a layer of strawberry jam and a dollop of clotted cream, and you get an instant little slice of heaven!
This may surprise you, but scones are actually really easy to make! I've only ever tried one recipe - this one by Jane Hornby - but it works everytime, so why would I go hunting for another?
Makes 8 standard or 12 mini scones:
350g self-raising flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
85g butter, cut into cubes
3 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
A squeeze of lemon juice
Beaten egg, to glaze
Jam and clotted cream, to serve
Heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Tip the flour into a large bowl with the salt and baking powder, then mix. Add the butter, then rub in with your fingers until the mix looks like fine crumbs. Stir in the sugar.
Put the milk into a jug and heat in the microwave for about 30 secs until warm, but not hot. Add the vanilla and lemon juice, then set aside for a moment. Put a baking sheet in the oven.
Make a well in the dry mix, then add the liquid and combine it quickly with a cutlery knife – it will seem pretty wet at first. Scatter some flour onto the work surface and tip the dough out. Dredge the dough and your hands with a little more flour, then fold the dough over 2-3 times until it’s a little smoother. Pat into a round about 4cm deep.
Take a 5cm cutter (smooth-edged cutters tend to cut more cleanly, giving a better rise) and dip it into some flour. Plunge into the dough, then repeat until you have four scones. By this point you’ll probably need to press what’s left of the dough back into a round to cut out another four. Brush the tops with beaten egg, then carefully place onto the hot baking tray.
Bake for 10 mins until risen and golden on the top. Eat just warm or cold on the day of baking, generously topped with jam and clotted cream. If freezing, freeze once cool. Defrost, then put in a low oven (about 160C/fan140C/gas 3) for a few mins to refresh.
I think this recipe is fantastic! However, if you're not a frequent baker, you may find my tips useful!
Make sure the butter is really cold. Since this recipe calls for the rubbing-in method, I run my hands under cold water before I start to ensure I get a find breadcrumb like mixture in step 1 rather than melted buttery lumps.
Sieve the flour more than once (I've read somewhere that you should do it 5 times!) to get plenty of air in for light, fluffy scones.
Don't overknead the dough. In fact, don't knead it at all! Like the recipe says, just fold it over a couple of times and pat it out.
Don't twist your cutter! Push it straight down and up again. This will help your scones rise evenly.
When you brush your scones with the beaten egg, make sure the eggwash doesn't drip down the sides as this will prevent the scones from rising, and you're more likely to get lopsided scones!