For years, I struggled to make the perfect scone. They were either too flat, too heavy, too moist or too dry. They never turned out the way I wanted them to.
Then I decided I needed more focus rather than my usual hit and miss approach. I read books and recipes, watched TV cookery programmes, delved into the science of baking and baked and baked again.
My research paid off and I’m glad to say I have come up with my idea of the perfect scone. It’s light and buttery with a crumbly exterior. The secret? Buttermilk. There are many recipes for buttermilk scones but it’s to Delia Smith that I owe the idea of also adding an egg. Not strictly necessary, but it gives the scones that extra richness and colour.
Eat them warm with either butter, whipped cream or clotted cream and homemade raspberry jam. Which comes first? If you live in Cornwall, it’s jam first then cream. But if you live in Devon, it’s cream first then jam. If, like me, you live in Scotland, who cares, just eat them.
Do you have a dish that you have been trying to find the perfect recipe for?
BUTTERMILK SCONES (makes 6)
Heat the oven to 220C, 200C fan, gas mark 7
- 225gr (8oz) self-raising flour
- Pinch salt (omit this if using salted butter)
- 50gr (2oz) cold unsalted butter
- 25gr (1oz) caster sugar
- 25gr (1oz) sultanas (optional)
- 1 medium sized egg
- 2tbsp buttermilk
- Begin by preparing a baking sheet. Non stick is best because you don’t have to grease it.
- Sift the flour and salt in a large bowl.
- Add the butter and, using your fingertips, rub into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
- Add the sugar and mix in.
- Add the sultanas, if using.
- Beat the egg and the buttermilk together and, keeping a little amount back, add to the mixture with a fork or a palette knife until it is incorporated.
- Now with your hand, quickly mix everything together until you have a soft dough. If there is still some flour left in the bowl, add a little of the reserved buttermilk and egg mixture. Just a touch until all the flour is mixed in.
- Place on a lightly floured surface and form into a circle.
- Roll out evenly with a rolling pin to an inch thick. This is important as otherwise you will have flat scones. Use a ruler or a measuring tape, if necessary.
- Cut out circles with a 5cm scone cutter. Make sure it’s sharp. If not, place the cutter on then dough then use a heavy object such as the jar where you keep your sultanas and press down. If you don’t have a clean cut and the cutter twists you will end up with scones that look like the leaning tower of Pisa.
- Cut each scone out and place on the baking sheet.
- You should have 6 scones. If you have any dough left over, form into a ball and bake that too. That’s yours to eat as soon as it comes out of the oven.
- Brush the scones with buttermilk or the remains of the egg/buttermilk mixture. Dust with flour.
- Place in the oven immediately and bake for 10 minutes.
- When they are golden on top, remove from the oven.
- Place on a wire rack.
Then eat them!