No this wasn’t supposed to happen. I didn’t want speckled scones. But speckled scones is what I got. Oh and by the way, if you hail from the States, these are biscuits.
I received a gift – an excellent book called ‘Perfect’, created by a Guardian writer who does an in depth analysis of a classic creation and then decides what the perfect version is. So I thought I’d give it a go. Perfect scones require lard and butter (not just butter) and also you shouldn’t roll the pastry, but rather flatten it by hand.
So, given I followed the instructions for perfect scones, how come my scones weren’t perfect? I will get to that later.
Scones are a tradional tasty morsel in Britain. Served with clotted cream and strawberry jam they form the centre-piece of the classic ‘cream tea’. However, as with everything that has been around for a long time, arguments rage (rage as in no one cares) over several aspects of scone lore.
For example, should the jam go on first, topped with the cream, or vice versa? And is it ‘scone’ as in ‘bomb’ or ‘scone’ as in ‘phone’. Generally speaking southerners choose the former and northerners the latter. I think.
Anyway to make these you’ll need:
- 350g super-fine white flour
- 50g cold butter, diced
- 50g lard, diced
- 130 ml cold milk
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda*
- 2 tsp cream of tartar*
- pinch salt
- strawberry jam
- clotted cream
*fascinating fact – baking powder is bicarbonate of soda with cream of tartar already added
Heat the oven to 180 centigrade. First, seive the flour, cream of tartar, bicarbonate of soda and the salt into a big bowl.
Add the fat and quickly rub it into the flour with your fingertips (use gloves if you have hot hands; you don’t want the fat to melt). You should end up with superfine breadcrumbs.
Add the milk.
Bring together to form a ball of dough.
Put the dough on a floured board and spread it out with the heel of your hand until it’s about an inch thick.
Use a 7cm cutter to push out the scones (don’t twist the cutter as you push, this inhibits the rising, apparently). Place them on a buttered baking tray and brush with milk.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Leave to cool slightly.
So where did I go wrong this time? Well a postmortem analysis revealed that the speckles are the raising agents, which I didn’t knead into the mix properly. Knead? When did I need to do that? I don’t recall kneading scones. Well anyway that is what it is. It might also explain why some of them rose more than others.
Lesson learned – knead your dough correctly people. Mind you they tasted good enough. I’ll take them to work – they eat everything.
Also next time I will brush them with egg, that would have hidden the speckly bits anyway.