You know, these days it seems to be increasingly difficult to lay your hands on a good scone. Every time I go out for a scone I seem to be presented with something which is either a bit stale or else just completely disintegrates when I put butter on it, which is just annoying.
In an attempt to overcome the situation, and seeing how it was a bit of a rainy Saturday I decided it was the perfect time to make my own scones. The first difficulty was getting hold of a decent recipe. Fortunately, given my dual obsessions with books and baking, I do have a fairly extensive library of cookbooks (yes, I know there is such a thing as the Internet, but hey, I like cookbooks as I can write on them, throw flour on them, leaf through them whilst lying on the sofa etc etc.) Anyway. So I enlisted the help of Mr Jimmy Burgess, baker at the fabulous One Devonshire Gardens in Glasgow for ten years until 2001. Catherine Brown’s book, The Baker’s Tale, makes use of his recipes developed over 35 years and has some really lovely traditional recipes including lots of variations on scones. They were so quick to make and they tasted amazing with strawberry jam and clotted cream so I will definitely be trying out more variations soon.
This makes around 6 largeish scones so you may want to double the quantities, you can always put any leftovers in the freezer.
1-2 tablespoons caster sugar (this is my addition, so leave it out if you prefer)
225g (8 oz) plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
125ml (4fl oz) buttermilk, or fresh milk soured with the juice of half a lemon
50g (2 oz) butter
1 egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Grease and flour a baking tray. Sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar into a large bowl and rub in the butter. Once it resembles breadcrumbs, make a well in the centre and add the buttermilk and beaten egg.
Mix together, then turn out onto a floured surface and flour the mixture. Knead lightly until the dough has an elastic consistency. Roll out until it is 1-2 inches thick (depending on how giant you like your scones). Cut with a scone cutter and place on the baking tray, re-rolling until all the dough is used up.
Bake for about 15-20 minutes, making sure you keep your eye on them as they don’t take long at all.
Serve warm with butter, or with jam and cream. Mmmm.