Scones – the Comfort Food

Most people my age were taught to make scones in the first year of high school when we had to enrol in a euphemistically named ‘Home Economics’. At that time, we were still using flat irons heated on a tailor’s stove and using bees wax to keep the sole plate smooth! Good grief.

We were also using old enormous gas-fired stoves and ovens and had to do our cooking prep on deal tables that then had to scrubbed clean and bleached at the end of each cooking session. The table was made from a pine commonly called deal (Abies alba) from Scandinavia – I have no idea why it was used in our school in the 1950s. They were enormous tables though. A series of deal planks made up the table I think to about 8′ x 5′.

We learnt to prepare and cook Cornish Pasties, Sausage Rolls, various cakes and biscuits but for some reason, scones stands out in my memory. I have made them pretty much all my life on and off. Good comfort food and deliciously decadent as well.

We H.E. students made them with SR Flour, butter rubbed in and milk added to make a dough. Turned the dough out onto the floured  work table and lightly shaped it ready for cutting with a scone cutter.

Today, many decades later, I made scones for my hunter gatherer’s return from the saga of supermarket shopping. Something decided me to vary my standard approach and use an elegant mix of egg and buttermilk instead of ho hum milk. I do like messing around with recipes but hadn’t thought of beefing up the good ol’ scone recipe that had been tried and tested for generations.

I no longer know how to measure the ingredients, I do it all by feel and sight, so these proportions are approximate. About 2 cups of SR flour, pinch salt, ½tsp. sugar and a good pinch of baking powder. Cutting the butter in is easier if the butter is soft. About 60 – 70 gr is enough. Rub the butter in until all little bits are coated with flour and feel bread-crumby. Get the oven going as soon as you start so it is hot enough when you are ready to cook the scones.

I beat a small egg in an ordinary teacup and then poured in the buttermilk to the top – sort of. Mixed it lightly through the flour and turned the resultant dough out on a floured bench top. I bought a set of 3 metal biscuit cutters and middle size (always the way isn’t it) is best. After patting the dough into a round, I cut 5 medium sized scone rounds out and made up the remainder into a scone of the same size more or less. There was a bit of egg mixture over so I brushed the tops with it before putting the scones on a lightly floured tray and into the oven.

Bake at 220ºC, top shelf for 17 – 20 mins. Tap the bottom of a scone – if it sounds hollow, it is cooked. Turn them onto a rack and let them cool for a bit covered with a clean teacloth.

Very nice too!!

They looked like this before we ate them!

Eat with jam and double cream (or clotted cream!) and with a good strong cup of tea. Hunter gatherer was impressed and ate 3 of them.



Edit for clarity: I have to add that SR is Self Raising flour and I use white flour as distinct from wholemeal. There never was an original recipe so that’s why I can’t remember what proportions. I just know the feeling of the mixture by experience.


3 responses to “Scones – the Comfort Food

  1. This recipe is a lot like the biscuits I’ve made for many years. I assume that a teaspoonful or so of baking powder would work with regular unbleached flour?

    • You say biscuit, I say scone!! On this side of the pond, Self Raising flour (both white and wholemeal) and Plain flour (again both white and wholemeal but without any raising agent) are the common flours. There is also Strong Bread Flour.

      France is worse! My NYC friend in France says there are many different flours made and sold in France and the varieties are numbered! So you have a series to learn.

      My understanding is that regular unbleached flour would equate to what we call Plain Flour. I use Self Raising flour for scones and cakes so that they rise easily and I add just a good pinch of baking powder to help the rising along. For biscuits (what you would call cookies) and béchamel type sauces or gravies, I would use Plain flour since rising isn’t required.

      The flour you are using would need a lot more baking powder to replace the raising agents that have been added to our Self Raising flour. I guess I would assume a fully rounded tsp of baking powder to 2 cups of regular unbleached flour. What amount would you normally use?

      For total clarity: the raising agents present in the Self Raising flour here is Calcium Phosphate and Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate. However, the baking powder I use is Disodium diphosphate and sodium bicarbonate.

      I am so pleased that you commented because it made me find out more about the different terms we all use for similar products.


  2. The hunter-gatherer only ate 2 of the scones!

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