Monday, 8 August 2011

In search of perfect scones

One of my favorite past time is enjoying cream tea on weekend be it in quaint tea room or over at friends or in the privacy of my own garden during summer. It's quintessential part of the British way of life, enjoying a really nice brew and an ordinary plain looking scone (or must I emphasize it got to be 2 scones) top with clotted cream and homemade strawberry jam. Heavenly......

There are several useful tips on getting a good or almost perfect scones. But before I jumped on the recipes, let me give you a know-how and understand your ingredients and techniques that make a real different to the end results.
  1. Self raising flour is preferred as it has raising agents mixed into it. Sift the flour to add air into it so that the final product is lighter.
  2. Additional raising agents is required be it bicarbonate of soda, baking powder or cream of tartar. These raising agents produce light textures to the scones. It is important to be accurate when measuring them out. Baking powder is a ready made mixture of bicarbonate soda and cream of tartar. When liquid is added the baking powder reacts and produces carbon dioxide, and the heat of the oven expands these gas bubbles to give the airy texture. Bicarbonate of soda is a raising agent with gentler effect. Using of bicarbonate of soda must be measured accurately as too much of this ingredient will give a bitter aftertaste. Whereas cream of tartar is a fast acting raising agent, it begins to work the moment it is in touch with liquid. Always bake the mixture as soon as possible after adding cream of tartar or its effect will be reduced. I tend to use baking powder + additional cream of tartar to give a lighter texture, it's all about how tall your scone will rise.
  3. Dried fruits like sultanas and raisins benefit from initial soaking in orange juice or alcohol, i.e brandy, rum, sherry. I tend to soak the dried fruits overnight to plump them up. I also tend to gently pat dry the fruits with kitchen towel prior to be added into my baking.
  4. Do not overwork the dough. A few gentle knead to form a rough round ball will do. Then gently pat down to desired heights with fingertips, no rolling pin requires.
  5. Use a ring cutter to cut the scones, try not to twist it when you cut. I tend to use a quick and fast movement to cut through the dough so as to avoid twisting.
  6. A pre-heated oven is mandatory, so that the raising agent is put to work immediately and give that lovely light texture. I tend to use fan assisted oven mode as it circulate the hot air around evenly and heat up very quickly.
English Scones
Recipes (make 6)
  • 250 gm self raising flour
  • 60 gm chilled unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 tsp of cream of tartar
  • 150 ml whole milk or buttermilk (the choice is yours)
  • 1 tbsp of caster sugar
  • one handful of raisin
  • 1 small egg beaten + 2 tbsp of milk for eggwash
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C (fan assisted)
  2. In a mixing bowl, sift in the flour, baking powder and cream of tartar.
  3. Using rub in method, rub in the butter with flour mixture wit fingertips until it resembles breadcrumb.
  4. Add in raisin to the flour mixture, then slowly add the milk to the mixture and gently knead with your fingertip and palm to form rough round ball. Dust some flour on work surface.
  5. Put the dough on the work surface and gently pat the dough to required heights with finger tips (2.5 cm).
  6. Use a cutter and cut the dough. Place the scone on baking tray. Assembled the remaining dough, cut and repeat until done. Brush the scone with egg wash.
  7. Bake for 12 minutes until lightly browned and cooked. Bring out and cooled on rack for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with clotted cream and strawberry jam.

Summer cut flowers from my garden to adorn my desk at work

Taking care of Jerry for a week as owner is out on holiday