Friday, 20 July 2012

The art of the perfect scone

At Tealicious, we think scones are very important. We can’t contemplate an afternoon tea without scones with cream and jam – it’s not right, as Michelle would say. Seeing as we’re on a wee break for the summer, we’re sharing our scone baking tips and recipe with you so here's what we do to make our scones perfect.

  • The best known tip is don’t over-mix and one that we can’t stress enough. Using a round bladed knife, bring the mixture round until it just looks like a dough. An overworked mixture makes for harder scones and if you can avoid kneading them they’ll be light and fluffy. This means when it comes for the dough to be cut, don’t roll the mixture, just pat down lightly.
  • Keep the mixture as cold as possible, particularly the butter. Some people even grate frozen butter directly into the flour. This helps the dough lift and gives a good height to a scone – once the butter melts in the mixture in a hot oven; it leaves little layers of steam pockets which makes the dough rise. The longer the butter takes to melt, the higher the pockets will be. 
  • We use a recipe that has buttermilk in it – the acidity helps the mix to rise to a good size. If you can’t get hold of any buttermilk (or don’t fancy buying any for the purposes of just making scones), you can add some lemon juice to natural yoghurt or milk as a substitute – here’s a handy guide as to how much you should use. 
  • When cutting your scone shapes, make sure the cutters are floured and don’t twist them, just press. Otherwise you’ll have wonky shaped (but still tasty) scones.
  • A glaze added just before they’re popped into the oven helps colour the baked scone and gives a nice texture – we use either buttermilk (Michelle) or a double coating of beaten egg and sprinkle of Demerara sugar (Katey).
  • Flavours can add an unexpected edge – particularly when paired with a lovely jam. Some of our favourite combinations have been whiskey scones with orange marmalade, lavender scones with lemon cream, stem ginger scones with fig jam.
  • Eat scones as soon as possible. They’re always best on the same day.

Buttermilk Scones – adapted from BBC Good Food


225g self raising flour
¼ tsp salt
50g butter, cut into small pieces and chilled for at least 10 minutes
25g caster sugar
125ml buttermilk (or buttermilk substitute)
4 tbsp whole milk 
Glaze: extra buttermilk or 1 beaten egg, plus Demerara sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 200C and line a baking tray.
2. To a large mixing bowl, add flour and salt. Rub in the chilled butter with your fingers to make a reasonably fine crumbed mixture, lifting to aerate the mixture as you go. Try not to rub too much, the mixture should look a bit sandy. Stir in the sugar with a round bladed knife.
3. Measure the buttermilk into a small jug then mix in the milk (ensure that the liquid ingredients are chilled from the fridge, or put the jug in the fridge for 10 minutes). Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture with your knife then pour in most of the buttermilk mixture, holding a little bit back in case it's not needed. Using the knife, gently work the mixture together until it forms a soft, almost sticky, dough. Work in any loose dry bits of mixture with the rest of the buttermilk. Don't overwork at this point or you will toughen the dough.
4. Lift out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and turn over. Knead the mixture lightly if required just 3-4 times to get rid of the cracks (this step may not be necessary depending on your dough).
5. Pat the dough gently with your hands to a thickness of around 2.5 cm. Dip a cutter into a bowl of flour then cut out the scones by pushing down quickly and firmly on the cutter with the palm of your hand. Gently gather the trimmings lightly then pat together and cut out more scones.
6. Place on a baking sheet and glaze with buttermilk or beaten egg and sprinkle with Demerara sugar if desired. Bake for 8-10 minutes for mini scones or 10-12 minutes for bigger scones, until risen and golden in colour. Cool on a wire rack and serve with clotted cream and jam.

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