SCONES, JAM, CREAM AND TEA: HOW PERFECT A RELAXED DAY AT HOME CAN BE.
Scones with the wind, not scones which are heavy like stones, is how we must refer to our favourite item on the High Tea list.
Some people are particular about the way words are pronounced. We are tutored by English school masters online in how to say culinary words.
One such word is scone. That is to say, the word ‘scone’ rhymes with ‘gone’ as in “Gone with the Wind”.
We were tutored online, by a Prof. Henry Higgins type, that the word is not pronounced as ‘scone’ to rhyme with the word ‘stone’… The correct pronunciation is scone/gone.
The humble bakery item known as the scone is a staple of every delicious Devonshire tea, cream tea and High tea. In the interest of high-performing culinary arts, to impress your family, your partner, or your team members, learn how to make the best scones you can.
If someone likes sultana scones (as I do) then buy the best sultanas you can find to make your scones absolutely perfect. Source sultanas which have labels saying the contents are not laden with chemicals.
Fresh sultanas make the best sultana scones. If you haven’t seen one or tried one before, check your local boulangerie to see if they have some in stock.
Which scone recipe is the best?
In terms of the best recipe for scones, various recipe books and online gourmet sites have been consulted. Many recipes were sourced in hard-copy format and on-line, poured over, dreamt about and re-read with enthusiasm.
However, the winner of the Best Scone Recipe today is clear. It is an English recipe. It is Fortnum and Mason’s scone recipe.
This recipe makes 15 scones. It is plucked from the Fortnum and Mason Cook Book.* To comply with law, the recipe is listed here with full acknowledgement for intellectual property reasons.
The set of measurements have been provided for the Fortnum’s recipe in Metric/American. In this recipe, the ‘OO’ flour type is the thinnest flour and the gold standard for cooks. Some ‘OO” packets are available as self-raising gluten-free.
Either way, freeze this flour when not in use so that it stays fresh and of best quality. It is an important kitchen ingredient for many recipes.
400g ‘OO’ type flour
20g baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
115g unsalted butter, diced
80g caster sugar
175ml whole milk
1 egg, lightly beaten, to glaze
Icing sugar, for dusting
(optional 50g sultanas)
Large kitchen bib or apron
One-two baking trays
Kitchen butter brush
5.5cm round cutter
Large mixing bowl.
One-two wire racks
1. Wear an apron. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Add the butter and rub it in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
2. Stir in the sugar, and if you are making sultana scones, add the fruit. Add the milk and mix to give a soft dough. Do not over-mix the mixture or else the scones will be heavy. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
3. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to about 1.5cm thick. Use a rolling pin if necessary. Cut out the scone rounds with a 5.5cm cutter. Reroll the trimmings (left overs) where necessary to make one or two other scones.
4. Brush with the beaten egg and leave to rest for another 30 minutes.
5. Place in an oven heated to 180 C/Gas Mark 4. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until well risen and golden brown. Transfer the scones to a wire rack to cool.
N.B. Place food covers over the racks to prevent early ‘theft’ and/or burns in the kitchen. Some people think that an ‘early scone’ won’t be missed. That is, 15 scones – 1 scone =14 scones.
Others have asbestos hands and/or mouths. They liberate a scone and don’t care that the scone is too hot to eat. In two ways, it is a hot scone. Milk will quickly subdue a burnt tongue or mouth.
To serve the scones
Most recipes suggest dusting the scones with icing sugar before serving. This is appropriate if the scones are moist and full of fruit such as sultanas or currants.
Or, if they are savoury scones, such as cheese or bacon scones, serve them with chutney or mustard and slices of gherkin or pickled onions on the side plate.
Some cooks like to serve the sweet scones with whipped or clotted cream. As a health warning, please be aware that this type of dairy product is packed with kilojules/calories.
In addition, if your team members are lactose intolerant, the dairy cream can be hard to digest. Everyone is different, as some people cannot digest scones without several tablespoons of double-whip cream.
Others prefer to use a jam or fruit preserve to moisten the scones. For my money, there’s nothing like raspberry jam atop sultana scones to show that an afternoon’s hill climb is worth rewarding.
In other words, please enjoy!
* See The Cook Book: Fortnum and Mason, https://www.fortnumandmason.com/the-fortnum-s-cook-book (retrieved 16 August 2021). It is about $70 AUD and published by Harper Collins. It was written by Tom Parker-Bowles and David Loftus in 2016.
See my blogs on ‘Christmas in July at the Australian Parliament House’ July 2021; and ‘High Teas with the birds and the bees’ June 2021.
Text copyright: Fiona Rothchilds 2021; Fortnum and Mason’s website and Fortnum’s Cook Book.
Photographic image copyright: Department of Parliamentary Services, Australian Parliament House, 2021.
Uploaded 22 August 2021.
Key words: scones, sultana scones, cheese scones, baking, dessert, scone, sweet things, puddings, tea-time, boulangerie, fruit preserves, High Teas, cream teas, Devonshire teas, Department of Parliamentary Services, Australian Parliament House.