Scones originated in Scotland over 500 years ago. Since then they have been adopted by the English and nowadays are famous as the key ingredient in a Cornish or Devonshire Cream Tea. The sweetened scones are split in half with smeared with jam and lashings of butter or cream, accompanied by a freshly brewed pot of tea.
Us Brits love our scones so much that they are a cause of national debate. For example, regarding the order in which the jam and cream is applied. In Cornwall the jam is spread on first followed by the cream. In Devon it’s the other way around. Being half Cornish I should be arguing for the jam first approach, but I have to admit, to me it tastes delicious both ways.
For me the more contentious issue is that of pronunciation. Like most Brits, I pronounce the word to rhyme with ‘con’. However, there are around a third of Brits (and of course those crazy Americans) who pronounce the word to rhyme with ‘cone’. (Listen to the two pronunciations, I think the first one is correct. Read more on the debate here).
There is also much discussion on what combination of ingredients makes these sweet treats rise the most. My recipe uses Italian ‘00’ flour, which is wonderfully light and perfect for sky-high scones.
Tip: Scone dough is delicate, it must be treated gently and handled as little as possible…much like us Brits!
- 250g plain ‘00’ flour
- 3 teaspoons of baking powder
- 60g cold butter
- 30g caster sugar
- A big pinch of salt
- 150 ml milk
- 1 egg beaten (or use a little milk) to glaze
- Heat the oven to 220C. Cover a baking sheet with baking parchment.
- Sieve the baking powder and flour in a bowl with the salt.
- Cut the butter into cubes and add it to the bowl.
- Quickly rub the butter into the flour mixture using the ends of your fingers until the mixture resembles evenly sized breadcrumbs.
- Stir in the sugar. Then stir in the milk bit by bit until you have a soft slightly wet dough.
- Transfer the dough onto a floured work surface and knead 4 or 5 times lightly to bring together.
- Pat the mixture out until it is 2cm in thickness then use a cutter to cut out the scones and place them on to the baking sheet.
- Brush the top of each scone with the beaten egg.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes until well risen and golden.
Scones are best when eaten warm and straight from the oven. They will last a couple of days if stored in an airtight container.
They are traditionally served with jam and butter or clotted cream (a very rich Cornish cream made from unpasteurised milk). It is not possible to get clotted cream here in Italy I use a lighter, delicious alternative that is very simple to make. Just whip together mascarpone, cream, sugar and a dash of lemon juice.
This sweet scone recipe can be adapted using a variety of ingredients, for example cinnamon, raisins or even chocolate chips. Savoury scones can also be made by removing the sugar and adding some cheese.