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British Scones Revisited

Mar 16, 2013

English Scones

I had shared a scones recipe a little more than two years ago after recovering from a nerve-wracking flu. I had adapted the recipe from the Fortnum and Mason cookbooklet while I was sick, with the little energy I had. Those scones became the only food item I had an appetite for; I ate them day after day.

But apart from those scones I had made, I hadn't tasted authentic ones ever in my life. I liked mines just fine: I gobbled them down with tea, spreading my favourite ginger-orange marmalade on them and never suspecting a thing. I recently had the chance to taste real British scones. The effect was a mind-blowing delight, immediately followed by a surging shame. They were puffy, light and melted in my mouth: if these were scones, I thought, what were mine, other than stiff balls of tasteless dough? 

Truth be told, I was oblivious due to high fever and also depressed, according to the title of that post in question. It's perfectly normal that my perception of what constituted as a delicious scone had been delusional. But why hadn't I discover the truth in other times I baked these scones with a clear conscience? I have no answer to that, other than bad taste. 

In my lousy version I hadn't added sugar. Slight sweetness in those heavenly scones I tasted was lovely, so omitting sugar was a bad choice. Secondly, I had used half and half yogurt and milk to substitute buttermilk, an ingredient not as easily available. But apparently milk, due to its less acidic nature, doesn't provide as much fluffiness as yogurt or buttermilk. Therefore this time I just used yogurt without thinning it out with milk. Finally, to play it safe I paid attention to not working the dough too much.

With these corrections, I tried baking scones by staying as loyal to the recipe as possible. It worked like a charm. They almost doubled in size, they were delicate, crumbly and slightly sweet, just like those scones that blew me away. Lesson learned; I won't meddle with recipes I have no familiarity with, ever again.

Cream Tea

British Scones

makes 14 scones

Recipe: Tea at Fortnum and Mason

Ingredients:

  • 250 g flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder baking soda
  • 85 g butter, cubed and chilled
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 medium egg
  • 150 ml (1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon) buttermilk or plain full-fat yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons milk, for brushing
  • clotted cream and marmalade for serving

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 220C/425F. Line your baking tray with grease proof paper.
  2. Sift flour and the baking powder into a bowl. Add butter. Rub the mixture in between your hands until it resembles breadcrumbs. Make a well in the center.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat together egg and buttermilk (or yogurt). Pour it into the well. Stir the ingredients with a knife than with your hands, to obtain a soft dough.
  4. Roll the dough into 2.5 cm thickness on a lightly floured surface. (If the dough is too sticky, roll it in between two pieces of cling films.) Cut out rounds using a 5 cm cookie cutter. (If too sticky, cut triangles with a knife.) Transfer to the baking tray and brush them with milk.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, until golden and risen. Serve warm with clotted cream and marmalade.
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