The Humble British Scone
Afternoon tea only means one thing for me: scones, and lots of them! A fresh scone with a good blob of jam, a dollop of cream and a cup of tea makes the perfect friend for a summer afternoon on the terrace or in the garden.
This recipe is based on one my mother was taught at school, with the exception of using plain yogurt rather than buttermilk. My favorite part of making ‘skons’ (I grew up pronouncing them this way, it has a good ring in my Northern Irish accent) is that the less effort you put into making them, the better. Work the dough as lightly and as little as possible with your fingers and you’ll end up with fluffy, well-risen, delicious results every time. My other tip is, when you’re cutting scones from the dough, don’t twist the cutter. Instead, place it lightly on the dough surface and give it a good tap with the palm of your hand before moving it gently to the baking tray.
Plain British Scones Recipe
- 400g plain flour
- 1tsp baking soda
- 2tsp cream of tartar
- 50g cold butter, cut into cubes
- 250ml plain yogurt
- 30ml whole fat milk
- 10g sugar
- Turn the oven onto 220 degrees Celsius (200 degrees Celsius for a fan oven) and lightly dust a baking sheet with some flour.
- Combine yogurt and milk, then stir in sugar until dissolved.
- Sift flour, baking soda and cream of tartar into a large mixing bowl. Add butter to the bowl, and quickly but softly rub it into the flour mix until it resembles fine breadcrumbs and no large cubes of butter remain (around three to four minutes).
- Make a well in the middle of the bowl and pour in the yogurt mixture. Again working softly with your fingers, combine the ingredients into a smooth dough.
- Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently press down to 4-centimeter thickness. Using a 7-centimeter cutter, cut scones from the mixture by positioning the cutter on top of the dough, then give it a good tap with the palm of your hand to cut through. Place each on a baking sheet and brush with milk.
- Place in the middle rack of the hot oven, along with a small tray of water in the shelf below. After 12 to 14 minutes, the scones should be risen and a little brown. Remove, transfer to a cooling rack and place a tea towel over the top, which will help keep them moist.
Scones are best eaten a little warm on the day they are made. To serve, cut a scone in half and spread with a little butter, a lot of home made strawberry or raspberry jam and a blob of cream on top. Be prepared: as soon as you taste the first, it’s doubtful they’ll last the afternoon!