On the increasingly rare, infrequent, once-in-a-blue-moon situations that I sit down to write a blog post, I always just want to talk about the weather. This is a post about scones - about classic, timeless, sweet soft fruit scones, but how do I want to begin? Well, I want to tell you that it's raining. I'm sitting in my white IKEA chair in the landing whilst the kittens at my feet wage a vicious war against my toes and my boyfriend swears at the football, and the rain is pouring enthusiastically against the window beside me. I think I want to tell you this, reader, because the weather outside and the food I want to eat have always inevitably related. I can't picture a hot summers day without a picnic of bread and cheese and grapes, just like I can't picture an autumnal night in October without baked potatoes and chilli. The idea of toffee apples in May is abhorrent to me; almost as weird as the thought of a quinoa salad at Christmas.
But scones are a kind of weather-resistant food; which makes sense since they're so traditionally English, and you certainly can't count on the weather in England to be traditional. So a scone (like a true Englishman) is an adaptable thing, just as suited to a warm summers day in Devonshire as it is to this rainy Sunday afternoon in Cheltenham. And the recipe is adaptable too - add cinnamon and cloves for a festive twist, chunks of pear and ginger if you wanna make my best friend Rosa happy, or dark chocolate & cherries if you're feeling like one sophisticated grown-ass woman. But, that said, you can get never go wrong with the classic combination of glazed egg and mixed fruit. Whatever your combination, a good scone demands three non-negotiable extras: clotted cream; raspberry jam; and tea.
And of course if you manage to enjoy them with a kitten in the vicinity too, then that's a pretty good Sunday indeed.
Recipe adapted from here.
- 350g self raising flour.
- Pinch of salt.
- Teaspoon of baking powder.
- 85g cubed unsalted butter.
- 50g caster sugar.
- 1 egg.
- Squeeze of lemon juice (approx 1 tablespoon).
- 175ml milk.
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
- 100-200g mixed fruit & dried peel (adjust amount to your preference).
- Heat oven to 220C/fan 200/gas 7.
- In a large bowl, sieve the flour with the salt and baking powder.
- Add the cubed butter and rub together with your hands until it resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
- Put the milk into a jug and heat in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Add the vanilla extract & squeeze of lemon juice into the milk and let it stand for a minute or so. This is to give it a chance to combine, making it more like buttermilk so that the acidity increases the rise of the scones.
- Make a well in the bowl of dry milk with your hands, then pour in the liquid and quickly combine using a spatula, wooden spoon or knife.
- Add in your dried fruit and mix.
- Once all combined, tip dough out onto a floured work surface.
- Fold and knead the dough until smooth, adding more flour as necessary.
- Pat or roll the dough into a round shape about 4cm deep.
- Using a cookie cutter or a glass, cut out 8 scones. Flouring the edge of your cookie cutter will give you a cleaner shape.
- Place scones onto a baking tray and brush the tops with beaten egg.
- Bake for 10 minutes, until risen and golden on top.
Tip: Although you can freeze these scones when baked, a far nicer thing to do is to freeze the dough and simply bake once needed. This means you can have warm, fresh scones whenever you want, and there's nothing bad about that sentence at all.