Recipe: Perfect Scones

There’s always this question – cream first or jam first?

To be honest if there’s a basketful of warm, fluffy scones fresh from the oven right in front of me I would dig right in without a second thought. (I am a cream first person, by the way.)

I’ve made scones with a few different recipes in the past: ones with buttermilk, greek yoghurt, refrigerating the dough overnight… to me as long as they come out fluffy, golden brown and well-risen it is a perfect scone.

With that said, I’ve learnt 3 golden rules to achieving a good scone:

  1. Cold butter. It doesn’t matter if you grate the butter in or cut into small pieces. Cold butter gives the scones that flakey, fluffy texture as it melts in the oven.
  2. Patience. The first step of rubbing the cold butter with the flour with your fingertips is possibly the most boring, painful step out of the whole recipe. But add a little bit of patience and perseverance – the finer the crumbs you rub, the fluffier the scone.
  3. Fold, not knead. Once you have added all the liquid to the dry crumbs, it’s very tempting to want to knead that shaggy, ugly-looking dough into a smooth round ball. However, kneading encourages gluten to form, meaning less fluffiness. Pat the dough gently with your hands, fold and pat down again, repeating for at most 5-6 times.
Perfect Scones
Makes 8
250g self-raising flour, plus more to dust
1/2 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
50g caster sugar
50g cold unsalted butter
1 egg
100ml whole milk
  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C and line a baking sheet with baking paper.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, salt and sugar into a large mixing bowl. 
  3. Cut the butter into small cubes and add to the dry ingredients. Alternatively use a box grater.
  4. Using your fingertips, rub the butter and dry ingredients together, until all the butter cubes have combined with the dry ingredients and turned into fine crumbs.
  5. Beat the egg with the milk. 
  6. Pour half of the liquid to the dry crumbs. Stir gently with a wooden spoon or spatula to combine. Add the liquid 1 teaspoon at a time until you cannot see any more dry crumbs at the bottom. The dough should be slightly wet and shaggy. You should not need to use all of the liquid. Save any remaining liquid for later.
  7. Dust your hands and the surface with flour, then turn the dough onto the surface. Lightly pat down the dough with your fingers, fold the dough and pat down again. Repeat this step for 5-6 times, and do not overwork the dough. Pat down the dough until it is 2.5cm thick. 
  8. Dust a 5cm pastry cutter with flour, then press down firmly to cut a circle. Remove the cutter and dough and set aside. Gather the scraps of dough, press together and cut more rounds.
  9. Place the rounds onto the baking tray. Using a pastry brush or a fork, brush the remaining egg/milk liquid onto the surface of the rounds. 
  10. Bake the scones in the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until they are well-risen and golden brown on the top. Remove from the oven and let cool on a cooling rack, and serve warm. 

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