My dream is to set up my own British style cafe. Although I cannot physically do anything about that at the moment, what I can do, is plan! Part of the planning for a cafe also means menu design! The fun part! And if there is one item we expect of a good British style cafe – it would have to be Scones! They are so easy and quick to make, but what is the best recipe for scones?
There are so many recipes online for scones, and so many choices! Egg or no egg? Buttermilk or ordinary milk? Warm milk or very very cold milk? Sugar, or no sugar? Baking powder or a mixture of Bicarbonate of Soda and Cream of Tartar? Italian flour, Self-raising flour, or strong flour? For such a simple recipe, with such few ingredients, I was amazed by the choices.
So I decided to do a Scone Bake-Off. I baked five different recipes, and took my scones and a jar of strawberry jam into work, and asked my colleagues to vote for their favourite. They had to vote based on Texture, Taste, and Looks. My colleagues took it very seriously….it was quite hilarious to watch! And the winner… was Number One.
However, a colleague, sent me her recipe for scones, on the back of the Scone Bake Off, swearing that it was the best scone recipe. I had to find out. I baked my ‘Number One’ batch, and compared it with her recipe ‘Number two’, and a combined recipe ‘Number three’.
And the winner this time was…. Number three! (recipe below)
And the secret? Lemon Juice! It helps kick start the Baking Powder rising process, ensuring better looking scones.
From doing all my research, I have also compiled the following Top Tips to ensure the best scones every time you bake them:
1. Hot Oven: It is very important to have a hot oven. Scones only take about 10 minutes to bake, and so it is vital that you have a hot oven, to make sure that they rise effectively.
2. Hot Baking Tray: Put the baking tray into the oven, when you are pre-heating it. Placing the scones onto a hot baking tray, means that they start to cook (and therefore rise) as soon as you put them onto the tray.
3. Digital Scales: Use digital scales to make sure your measurements are exact.
4. Cold Butter: For once, you do not need to bring butter up to room temperature. Cold butter helps to make your scones flaky.
5. Cold Milk: There are a lot of recipes which call for warm milk. I have decided that the very very cold milk is the best option. You need cold milk, in order to keep the butter cold and to ensure your scones are nice and light and flaky.
6. Chaffing: Do not over-knead the dough, but do Chaff the dough. To find out what this means, go here.
7. Don’t twist: Use a pastry cutter to stamp out the scones, do not twist the cutter.
8. Glazing: Be careful to keep the egg glaze on the top of the scones. If it runs down the sides it will stop them rising evenly.
9. Drying Rack: Remove the scones from the hot oven tray as soon as they are cooked, and put them onto a drying rack, otherwise the scones will continue to cook and it will make them too dry.
250g self-raising flour
12g baking powder
63g unsalted butter
125 ml whole milk
5ml lemon juice
1 egg for glaze (optional egg for mixture)
(To make fruit scones, add 50g of sultanas/currents and stir in once the flour and butter mixture resembles breadcrumbs)
Sieve the flour, salt, baking powder into a bowl. Add the sugar, and the butter, and mix with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the milk and lemon juice. (If you like a richer tasting scone take 5ml of the milk out, and add an egg). Mix until it comes together. Knead the dough (using the chaffing technique explained above). Pat out the dough until it is 1 inch high, and using a pastry cutter, cut out the scones. Re-knead and pat out, until all the dough is used up – although please note that the more you re-knead your dough, the more the scones will be tougher and flatter. Place the scones on greaseproof paper on the hot pan.
Bake in an oven at 210C, on the middle shelf, for 10 minutes, until risen and golden brown. Remove, and immediately place on a cooling rack. Serve while they are still warm with clotted cream and jam.