Simple, quick, satisfying – and infinitely variable. One little touch lifts them to light, fluffy, and sublime.
- 8oz/225g flour (white, brown, wholemeal, or a mixture – your call); either
- plain flour, with 4 level tsps baking powder
- self-raising flour, with 2 level tsps baking powder
- but see below on milk
- and feel free to replace up to a third of the flour with porage oats or oatmeal?
- 2oz/50g butter, or other fat
- good pinch of salt
- [For sweet scones – 1oz/25g sugar]
- milk to mix (see below)
- Preheat oven to 230C/475F/Gas Mark 8.
- Sift together the flour, salt, and raising agents; rub in the fat, until your mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.
- Stir in the sugar (and/or other flavourings – see below for ideas).
- Add “enough” milk, and cut in with a knife; you want a soft rolling consistency. Don’t overwork the dough (or it becomes tough).
- Magic touch – “sour” the milk first with a wee squeeze of lemon juice, or use buttermilk or watered-down yoghurt; this will supercharge your raising agents. Only add HALF the quantities of baking powder above.
- Roll out, and cut into required shapes (rounds or squares); or form into rounds on baking sheet, and “draft” cut each into eight triangles.
- Pop into the oven for about 10 minutes – when the scones are firm to the touch, they are ready. Cool on a wire rack.
Such a simple recipe can carry a wealth of flavours – some ideas …
- Cheese Scones – adding 2-4oz/50-100g of grated cheese (imho, the stronger the better), a bit extra salt, a good grind of black pepper, and whatever herby or spicy complement you wish. Ground mustard, paprika, chilli, thyme, rosemary, parsley ……. whatever!
- Mediterranean – add sundried tomatoes (chopped), olives (black, pitted and halved), and cubed Feta cheese.
- Herby – a good handful of chopped fresh parsley, or thyme, or whatever will fit what you’re serving alongside the scones.
- Onion (and tomato) – chop an onion and fry slowly until satifyingly golden and sweet (20 minutes, at least); stir in a spoonful of tomato puree if you like, and add a herb or two. Allow to cool.
- Treacle – add 1-2 tablespoons black treacle to the flour mix before you add the milk; omit the sugar.
- Sultana – add a goodly handful of sultanas (or any other dried fruit) to the flour mix, before you add the milk.
- Citrus flavours – add the zest of a lemon or orange to the flour mix; or replace the sugar with a spoonful of good marmalade.
- Spicy – add your choice of spices to the flour mix; ground ginger (with chopped crystallised ginger?), ground mixed spices, cinnamon …
- Date – add 2-3oz finely chopped moist dates. Or 2oz chopped dates and 1oz chopped walnuts?
You get the idea – my granny’s simple scone ain’t quite so simple after all!