I’ve never been very good at scones, I don’t make them very often (that’s probably why), mainly because I don’t think I’ll ever be able to achieve the ease of throwing together an awesome scone like Pam. So it was with trepidation that I attempted scones this morning. The incentive – so Hugo had something to take along to friends for morning tea (that’s what we call mid morning snack in Australia) and also because I promised Mike Small that I would post Pam’s Scone recipe!
Mum grew up in Australia and, as in Scotland, the Country Women’s Association or Women’s Rural Institute is famous for its scone making prowess. The simplest of recipes can be the most challenging and floor even the most accomplished chefs (as a recent MasterChef episode illustrated). Mum learnt to make scones with ‘Gravy’ (aka Ms Graves) – the most resourceful cook and dressmaker I have ever come across and who supported my grandmother in raising her 4 children alone in Sydney in the 1940s. Both Gravy and Mum loved the CWA and Australian Women’s Weekly recipe books.
Pamela’s scone tips:
- don’t over work the dough (when a scone recipe says to knead the dough, all you are doing is pushing the mixture together and bringing it to a relative uni form). Mum made scones in a block on a baking tray, not cookie cutter scones, which probably accounts for the rougher texture of her scones. (They wouldn’t have won prizes at the local county show! She did win prizes for all sorts of other things though ….:-)
- use a knife to mix in the milk
- preferably use milk that’s gone off
- to keep warm and soft, wrap in or cover with a clean tea-towel
- eat them fresh out of the oven, warm with real butter and home made jam
- a hot oven (at Longwood, the Aga top oven)
- and generally I’m pretty sure that speed actually helps the lightness of a scone’s being…
BASIC SCONES a la PAMELA (makes about 12)
Heat your oven to 220 degrees. Oil and flour a small baking tray.
Use a knife to stir a dessert spoon of caster sugar (optional*) into 3 cups of SR flour (or plain flour + 3 tsp baking powder). Add a pinch of salt. Make a well in the centre, and with the knife, mix in 1 cup of milk (room temp is best) until you create a soft dough (you might have to add another tablespoon of milk; don’t add too much though or it will become too sticky). Use your hands to grab all the dough from the bowl into one large ball. (Do not knead as your scone will become heavy.) Press out the dough onto the tray to make a rectangle about 1.5cm thick and score into approx 12 squares. Brush the top with milk. Pop in the oven on the top shelf for about 12 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack for a short cooling and cover with a clean tea towel.
Serve warm with just butter or decadent cream and jam.
[For a richer flavour, you can rub 25g of butter or marg into the SR flour with your fingertips til the mixture resembles breadcrumbs or I like to use half milk, half cream.]
* Mostly sugar was not added into the main mixture (kids probably would prefer it), because the jam usually adds enough sugar.
DIVERSIFYING YOUR SCONES
At the sugar stage you could add chopped dates, sultanas, cheese etc. At the Longwood Bakehouse organic flour was always used, but usually white for scones. For a wholemeal scone that tastes okay and is not like a brick, I recommend using 1 cup wholemeal, 1 cup white. I haven’t tried scones with quinoa, pumpkin and sunflower seeds etc but I think that would enter the ‘muffin’ genre of scone-making. Please comment and share your favourite scone variations.
This morning I experimented with ricotta and dark chocolate ….
Chocolate Ricotta Scones
I replaced the 1 cup of milk with 1/2 cup of Ricotta + 1/2 cup milk. I broke up 2 pieces of Lindt 85% dark chocolate into shards and stirred these in with the knife before adding the last bit of milk. Also, after brushing with milk, I sprinkled the surface with sugar ( I used caster but brown would have been better). Hugo will let us know if they were palatable……?