My daughter was home at the weekend and made these wonderful scones for us. She’s been perfecting them for a while in the tea shop she runs – Cream Tea – next to the Theatre Royal in Brighton (plug, plug) and the discoveries she’s made vis-a-vis the perfect scone recipe blew all my ideas about the process out of the window. I watched her make them and ate the results so I can personally vouch for her method. They were utterly divine.
1lb self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 oz salted butter
4 oz grated strong hard cheese (parmesan is good) plus extra for the tops
1 tsp each salt & black pepper
1 tbsp English mustard
1/2 pint milk
1 egg yolk combined with a little milk for brushing
Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Cut the butter into 1 cm cubes and rub it into the flour using only your fingertips, scooping up from the bottom of the bowl. On no account are you to squish it between your palms! Add the salt, pepper and cheese and stir to combine. Next whisk the mustard into the milk and then add to the flour and cheese mixture until it is all incorporated. Now, comes the smooshing part. “Smooshing” you ask? Yes, smooshing. You gather the dough all in at the sides and smoosh it up and together. Then you smoosh it down – see photos 2 and 3. (Rox has inherited my tendency to make up ‘technical’ terms). This kneading of the dough was one part I found surprising as I’d always been led to believe that the less you handled scone dough, the better. When the dough is smooth and ‘dry’, i.e it does not stick to your hands at all its ready to roll and cut out. You’re looking for a thickness of a good inch. Choose your own cutter size to suit your needs. This will dictate how many scones you get from your batch of dough. With any left over dough you can make yourself a little twist – see photo 5, above – a treat for the cook. Brush the tops with the egg yolk and milk mixture and then scatter on your extra cheese. Then, the second surprising part – to me at least – you leave them to rest for 15-20 mins. Contrary to this I’d always thought you had to get scones into the oven pronto but as I said, this method definitely works so hats off to Rox.
Bake at gas mark 5 for 15-20 mins. Check them at 15 mins and keep a close eye on them, they can go from golden and delicious to burnt in a very short space of time. They are best eaten hot, but as the people in my office can confirm, they’re not bad cold either.