Scone is a small British quickbread of Scottish origin. The original scone was round and flat, usually the size of a small plate. It was made with unleavened oats and baked on a griddle, then cut into triangle-like quadrants for serving. Today, scones sold commercially are usually round in shape but homemade scones have taken into various shapes: triangles, rounds and squares.
What is a good scone?
Recently, my family members are “addicted” to scones. This includes my mother-in-law who doesn’t have a sweet tooth. But it is not easy though to find good scones around our neighbourhood bakeries. We did come across one that sells reasonably good scones that are to our liking. However, its scones are always sold out early. Because of this, I decided to bake my own scones. To my surprise, it is easier than I had imagined. It only requires a few simple ingredients and the method is easy enough to follow. No kneading is required. However, there is one thing you need to be extra careful, i.e. you must understand the technique in preparing the dough. Even then, it should not put anyone off. As a novice baker like me, I had passed my first attempt with “flying colours”!
As forewarned, the making of good scones lies in the technique itself. If you are one who is looking for stress-releasing recipes, this one is surely not your type. Unlike the making of pizza and fish paste, this scone recipe requires you to handle the dough as gentle as possible. The lesser you work at it, the more tender the scones will become. Doesn’t this sound great to all the novice bakers!
Yields: 10 large or 12 small scones
2¼ cup unbleached/ plain flour (Note: 1 cup of plain flour = 115 grams)
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda (I substitute it with ½ tsp baking powder)
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
½ cup (110g) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes (½ inch )
¾ cup raisins (can be substituted with dried currants) – soaked with 2 tbsp of hot water for 5 mins, squeezed away the water
¾ cup yogurt mixture (3 tbsp yogurt + some fresh milk + ½ egg) or ¾ cup buttermilk
½ egg + 1 tbsp milk – beat well with a fork
(A) Mixing of ingredients
1) Preheat oven to 200ºC. Line a baking tray with grease-proof paper.
2) In a large mixing bowl, add in flour, baking powder and baking soda and whisk until mix well. Sieve 2-3 times (see Note a)
3) Add in sugar and salt. Mix well.
4) Add in butter cubes. Use a pastry blender (see photo below), table knife, fork or tips of fingers to cut butter into the flour mixture until it forms coarse crumbles. (see Note b)
5) Add in raisins and stir gently until well combined.
6) Beat yogurt, milk and egg until well combined. Gently fold the yogurt mixture into the dry ingredients, mixing lightly just until no dry flour is visible (see Note c & d). The dough will be wet and sticky.
(B) Shaping the dough
1) Sprinkle flour lightly on both the dough and the work top. Turn the dough out and roughly work it into a ball. Press the ball down into a rectangular shape. Sprinkle some flour if the dough is still wet.
2) Fold the dough like the way you fold a business envelope (in 3rd, 1st first right fold to center, then left fold to center). It is alright if the dough is still quite shaggy and loose at this stage.
3) Then press the dough down to form either a circle or a rectangular.
For circle, cut it into 8 large or 16 small triangle scones.
For rectangular, cut it into 10 large or 12 small squares. Push the edges roughly to shape it into a round scone. You can also use a cookie cutter or an upside-down juice glass to cut out the scones.
4) Dip the top lightly on the egg wash and then brush it with the remaining egg wash again. Place them on a baking tray, spacing them about 4cm apart.
5) Bake for 15 – 20 mins (depending on the shape and size of your scones) until golden brown on top. Turn the baking tray over if the scones are not evenly baked. Let it cool on a rack and serve warm. Alternatively, let it cool completely and store in an airtight container or keep in the freezer.
6) How to eat scones? Cut the scones into half and spread butter/ cream/ jam onto it. And, it is best enjoyed together with a cup of coffee or tea!
a) To avoid any bitter taste that can be caused by the large amount of baking powder used in the recipe, it is important that the flour and baking powder are blended well and sieved for several times.
b) It is advisable to use a pastry blender (see photos below) to cut the butter as it releases less heat to avoid melting the butter when mixing of ingredients.
c) Do not knead or overwork the dough. The less you work it, the tenderer and flakier it will be. Do not pour the yogurt mixture into the dry ingredients all in one go. Add in little by little and stop once a loose dough is formed. You need not finish using all the yogurt mixture.
d) Quality of butter is important to give your scones a more buttery flavour. I suggest that you select a premium brand such as Lurpak in making your scones. It definitely makes a difference in the taste.
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