The Ugly Scone

Scones have been part of my baking repertoire since home ec. classes in school but they’ve never made too many appearances in my domestic life. When I began working in a slightly insane cafe in Glasthule (64wine) the scone came to the fore. Adapting an Angela Nilsen’s ‘ultimate scone’ recipe I began churning out up to 60 scones of a Saturday. Fierce relaxing as jobs go. Alone in the kitchen, listening to the radio and baking off trays of the little beasties. They create a wonderfully welcoming smell too.

A peculiarity with this recipe: although all sorts of lovely, the kitchen of 64 back in the day was lacking a few utensils. As such the liquids are measured in shots, Irish ones.

Anyway, scones are curious beasts. They are technically a sweet treat but never quite quench a sugar craving. That being said, they do have their place. But that place is restricted to a scone that meets some strict criteria:

A scone must not be chewy or bready – this can be avoided if you refrain from being heavy handed when bringing the dough together

It must be handmade, food processors will give you the aforementioned bready mess

It must have fruit, by which I mean sultanas. Some may not see this as a must but this is my blog and I shall make the rules

It must be fresh. Ideally eaten on the same day as creation

It should be eaten as two separate, individually buttered and jammed pieces. Not like a cake with two sides and only one set of fillings

It must be ugly. I am suspicious of a scone that is perfectly cylindrical, evenly risen and overly smooth

(I would normally insist it must be made in ounces but as I am such a kind creature I shall provide gram measures too)

Oven temperature 210 Celsius

Self raising flour       80z (225g)

Butter                         3oz (85g)

Caster sugar              1oz (28.34g)

Salt                              a generous pinch

Sultanas                     2 handfuls

Buttermilk *             4 shots

Water                         1 shot

Preheat the oven. Find a baking tray and dust it liberally with flour.

dusty
dusty

Measure the flour, butter and sugar into a large mixing bowl and add the salt. Rub them together. If you have foolishly forgotten how to rub things you can see my very informative video here.

ever wondered what flour, butter, sugar and salt look like?
ever wondered what flour, butter, sugar and salt look like?

Once looking like the picture below, with an even lumpiness, add in the sultanas.

lumpy
lumpy

Add in the buttermilk and water. Make a claw. Use said claw to bring the mix together.

The claw
The claw

It’s sometimes easier to start by scooping the dry ingredients up and over the liquids so everything isn’t quite so sticky. Keep clawing the dough till it just forms a ball. Then stop. Go no further for fear of overworked scones.

bally
ball-y

Dust your work surface with a bit o’ flour and plonk your dough ball on top. Using your hand, not a rolling pin, gently squash it down so it is about as fat as an egg. It’s no surprise that your finished scones will be taller, and thus more impressive, if you leave the uncooked dough very thick.

that's an egg
that’s an egg

Now choose a cutter. Mine was 38mm and I got 7 scones. Try to be as mathematical as you can about where you place the cutter as you only want to re-squish the dough once. What I mean to say is try to cut the scones as close together as possible so you’re not left with loads of scrappy bits. You can gather all the scrappy bits and mush them together to form a new dough ball to cut the last scone or two but you can only do this once. Anymore and they’ll be mad tough.

keep an eye on the one in the front on the right
keep an eye on the one in the front on the left

Arrange the little fellas on the dusted baking tray and pop in the oven. They take about 20mins-ish. Depends on the size of the cutter you use. Smaller ones take less time and bigger ones take…more time. Either which way they should be nicely brown and sound hollow if you tap them on their bottoms. Rarr.

it turned into a little singing man (the scone in the middle)
it turned into a little singing man (the scone in the middle)

I know you know how to clean your kitchen but may I proffer a suggestion? Wipe down the floured surface with a dry piece of kitchen paper before using a j-cloth or the like. This prevents a very sticky, pasty mess being made.

*If you find yourself buttermilkless you can add 1 tablespoon of whiter vinegar to one cup of whole milk and leave it to stand for ten minutes.

DSC_0042

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