Uni student studying English Literature and French – loves reading, writing and exploring Sydney's diverse offerings, old and new.
Published August 13th 2012
There they sit – afternoon tea's centrepiece – baked to a golden perfection that simply begs to be layered with jam and freshly whipped cream... And yet, the disappointment of that first bite! Far from perfect, they turn out too doughy, too rubbery, or worse – rock-hard.
How can a combination of such basic ingredients go so terribly wrong, so often? While they may not match the soufflé on a scale of culinary sophistication, scones can nevertheless prove one of the trickiest things to bake.
So, how to create that crunchy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside goodness every time?
Credit must go to my grandma, the family's chief scone-baker and leading authority in all things sweet. Her secret is in the mixing. At each stage, this needs to be done as gently as possible. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients with only the tips of your fingers, (see step 3 below), and when adding the milk, (step 4), use two knives to cut and fold the mixture until just combined. This last tip may sound fiddly, but rather than unnecessarily overcomplicating things, it keeps the dough light and elastic.
This recipe promises successful scone-baking – every time!
Ingredients: (makes 12 scones) 1. 2 cups SR flour 2. 1 tablespoon sugar 3. 1 pinch salt 4. 1 teaspoon baking powder (warning: 1 teaspoon is really enough. Over-enthusiastic amounts will result in scones of Godzilla proportions that, though seemingly impressive, will be doughy and flavourless) 5. 60g softened butter, cut into small cubes
6. 1 cup milk (for an interesting flavour variation, try buttermilk)
1. Preheat a fan-forced oven to 230 degrees Celsius
2. Sift flour, sugar, salt and baking powder together in a bowl
3. Rub butter into flour, using finger tips
4. Add milk gradually, slicing and folding with two knives to mix the dough into shape (avoid mixing more than you need to)
5. Spread dough into a rectangle on a floured baking tray, and cut into 12 portions using a floured knife (I like the rustic look of the squarish shapes this creates, but you could always use a cookie cutter instead)
6. Brush with extra milk, and leave the scones close together on the tray to promote rising
7. Bake for 10-15 minutes
8. Allow scones to cool on a wire rack, before piling them into a small basket and serving alongside whipped cream, jam, and a pot of freshly brewed tea