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THE PERFECT SCONE: 8 tips to make the best, plus my favourite recipe.

THE PERFECT SCONE: 8 tips to make the best, plus my favourite recipe.

Some years ago I became obsessed with baking perfect scones. Light, airy scones topped with clotted cream and jam were my idea of a great afternoon treat, and still are. I’ve spent some time perfecting my technique and here are eight tips I’ve collected over the years from different sources.

● If your recipe calls for milk rather than buttermilk, then add an 1/8 teaspoon of lemon juice to the milk before adding it to the rest of the scone mixture. This acid reacts with the raising agents to help the scones rise.

● Don’t overwork the mixture as this will make it tough. Knead the dough a couple of times so it becomes smooth and then roll or pat it to the desired thickness.

● Delia Smith is clear on what that thickness should be – at least 3cm/just over 1”. I find 2.5cm/1” is enough but it certainly shouldn’t be thinner than that.

● Beaten egg or milk are commonly painted on top of scones to give them a light brown, cooked appearance. Beaten egg is best. Paul Hollywood mentions that any glaze shouldn’t dribble down the sides of the scone as this will inhibit an even rise.

● Preheat the oven and the baking tray together so that the shaped dough scone is dropped straight onto a hot surface.

● Once you’ve made your dough, aim to get it into the oven as soon as possible. This is because the raising process starts the moment the ingredients are combined and you want this process to happen in a hot oven.

● Scones are wonderful eaten while still just warm from the oven. My God-mother produces great scones that she bakes in large batches, stores in her freezer and warms just before serving.

● Finally, the Leith’s Techniques Bible says you should only cut downwards when shaping the dough mix. A twisting action results in uneven rising and therefore uneven baking of the scone.

Now you know how to make the perfect scones, have a look at my go to scone recipe which comes from BBC Good Food – an amazing resource. Then you just need to decide which goes on first – clotted cream or jam!

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Scones – my favourite recipe

8 tips to make the perfect scones and my go to recipe
  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 22 minutes
  • Yield: 8 scones

Ingredients

  • 350g/12¼oz self-raising flour and a little extra for rolling out
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 85g/3oz butter at room temperature
  • 45g/2oz caster sugar
  • 175ml milk
  • 1/8 tsp lemon juice
  • Beaten egg for glazing

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 220C/ 200C fan /428F/Gas mark 7, putting a baking tray in the oven to preheat as well.
  2. Sieve the flour, salt and baking powder into a large bowl and mix well. Add the butter and rub it in until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Alternatively, use a food processor and mix until the butter has disappeared.
  3. Mix in the sugar. Add the lemon juice to the milk and then add this to the flour mixture. Stir quickly with a knife and then use your hands to make a dough ball. Knead a few times just until the dough becomes smooth. Scatter a little flour over a work surface and shape the dough with your hands or a rolling pin so that it is 2.5cm/1” thick. Use a floured 5cm/2” wide smooth cutter to cut out 8 scones.   You may need to reform some of the dough to cut out the last few scones. Brush the tops of the scones with the beaten egg.
  4. Place the dough scones directly on the preheated baking tray and immediately return to the oven. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes until lightly golden on top. Leave for a few minutes on the baking tray before transferring to a cooling rack. Serve with clotted cream and jam.

Sources
Delia Smith – The Complete Cookery Course
Leiths Techniques Bible – Susan Spaull and Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/paul_hollywoods_scones_70005
https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/4622/classic-scones-with-jam-and-clotted-cream

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