Traditional British scones

Scones with homemade strawberry jam and cream
Scones with homemade strawberry jam and cream

I have been making scones for years, and feel like I’ve tried every trick in the book to achieve the soft, fluffy scones you see in tea shops but to no avail.

Some recipes call for buttermilk to ensure a fluffy texture, some use lemonade in the theory that the bubbles help the rise.

A lot of recipes for American style “biscuits” use shortening as well as butter to create a flakier dough.

All of these differences in ingredients, and your scones can still turn out like hockey pucks if you’re not careful.

From my experiences, there are a few tips that seem to work:

  • Don’t overwork the dough – this is a no-brainer and very few people with argue with you here. It comes back to avoiding too much gluten developing in the dough which will stop it rising.
  • Don’t roll the dough out too thin – you’d be surprised how little scones actually rise, so start out around 2cm high and just ensure they bake through.
  • Push the dough out with your hands rather than a rolling pin – again part of the theory in not bashing the dough around too much.
  • Don’t add too much flour when shaping the dough – the dough should be slightly sticky, so only lightly flour the surface and your hands/rolling pin to avoid changing the flour to fat ratio.

I decided to use Mary Berry’s recipe for scones, because seriously who else is going to compete when it comes to traditional British baking?

I was interested to see that her recipe including self-raising flour plus extra baking powder.

However reading from my baking bibles, I also see that Michel Suas recommends using strong flour to ensure a high rise. I will certainly try that next time in the hope that my babies will grow ever higher.

I also managed to make my own strawberry jam this time to serve on the scones, but will save that recipe for another day.

This is one of my last quick bread recipes, with Madelines planned for next week. It’s been going back to basics again and as much as I’ve enjoyed doing it I’m feeling up for a bigger challenge so it might be time for verrines next…or scarier yet, plated desserts!

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