Most of the time I'll admit that when I head into the kitchen to bake something, my only purpose in doing so it to make sure there is something good in the house to eat or to occupy an easily bored four year old. On those occasions I break out the old faithful recipes, the all in one variety which results in a delicious cake or treat without too much effort on my part.
However, I do really love to bake and when the notion takes me and I find myself with an abundance of free time on my hands, second on my list of" must makes" are scones (beaten from the top spot by bread).
Scones are one of my all time favourite things to bake. There's something very comforting in the familiarity and old fashionedness of scones. I make them, just as I was taught, with my hands.
The recipe for a basic scone dough is simple enough and you'll likely have all the ingredients handy. I think this may be a WI recipe, as it is, I found it scribbled in a notebook which belonged to my mother in law.
500g plain flour
1 heaped tsp bicarb
2 tsp cream of tartar
125g cold butter, cut into cubes or dipped in flour and grated a la Delia
35g caster sugar
1 large beaten egg (reserve one tblsp)
1 tblsp reserved beaten egg and 1 tblsp milk combined
Start by preheating your oven. Sift the flour, bicarb and cream of tartar into a large bowl.
Add the cubed or grated butter to the flour mixture and rub in gently with the fingertips, giving the bowl a quick shake every now and then to raise any lumps of butter to the surface. Once the butter is completely rubbed into the flour (it will have a sandy consistency) stir in the caster sugar.
Next add the beaten egg (remembering to reserve one tablespoon) to the milk, mix to combine and add the milk and egg to the flour mixture in the bowl. Using a blunt knife or palette knife, quickly mix the wet ingredients into the dry.
The dough will be very soft and ever so slightly sticky, but you should still be able to handle it if you move quickly.
Turn the dough out onto a well floured counter top. Flour the palms of your hands or dust the surface of the dough with a little flour and pat it down until your dough it about 2 cm thick.
Flour a 2.5 inch cutter and cut out the scones. You can very gently press the offcuts of this dough together to cut a second batch of scones. I usually get about 20 scones from this recipe.
Place the scones about 2 inches apart on a floured cookie sheet and brush the tops with the glaze. You can also sprinkle a little sugar on top of the glaze if you like them sweeter.
Place the scones in the oven and bake for 10-13 minutes until they're risen and the tops are golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, but only slightly, they're very good eaten still warm.
Fruit Scones - add 100g of any dried fruit to the dry flour mixture before adding the egg and milk. I used raisins in this batch.
Cinnamon - add to taste (I use about 2.5 tsp) of cinnamon when sifting the flour.
Chocolate - add 100g of chopped chocolate to the dry ingredients. I'm personally not a fan of chocolate in these, but everyone else I make them for seems to love them, so ......
Cheese - omit the sugar and add 100g of good strong cheddar to the dry ingredients or a red cheese is lovely too.