My old cookery book (folder) had been in storage for nearly a year now. I had been waiting for a long time to get the old thing out so I could finally bake some of my Nana's famous scones!
You see I have a thing about scones. I am almost always disappointed with the scones they have in cafes and such establishments. They are always puffed up with far too much baking powder. The texture is nasty and slightly springy and you can always taste the excessive use of rising agent because they really couldn't be bothered to invest time in the right method of scone making ( I'm not fussy, honest!).
My Nana was a scone making expert. Every Friday, she would bake a batch of scones, as well as, two different cakes for the weekend (my Grandad had a very sweet tooth and would always have a big slice of cake before his sandwiches!). Before I started school, I would love to go round to Nana's house on a Friday and help her bake. Now my children really enjoy helping me bake and I'm really pleased I have my much-loved Nana's recipe to share with them...
Scones are really easy to make. You just have to stick to the rules!
SCONE MAKING RULES:
1. Don't over-handle the dough. Once you've added the wet ingredients, try to mix together with as few actions as you can. It is better to be slightly crumbly than sticky. If it gets sticky, you've handled it to much and your scones will become rock cakes!
2. When cutting out scones, use a swift, sharp downward action. The cleaner the cutter goes through the dough, the more rise you will get.
3. Use cold butter.
4. Eat on the day you bake them.
So, here's what you need. My Nana used to use half lard and half butter, but I've just changed that to all butter to accommodate any vegetarians. And lard isn't something I use either, so it's not something I would have in my fridge.
450g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
100g caster sugar
100g cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
Pinch of salt
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 180C and line two baking sheets with greaseproof/baking parchment paper.
Sift the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt into a large bowl. Add the cold, cubed butter and start to rub together until you have a mixture that resembles fine breadcrumbs with no large lumps of butter left. At this stage, you can handle the mixture as much as you want.
Next, mix the egg, milk and vanilla together and add to the dry ingredients. Use a knife at this stage to combine. Go in with your hands until the dough just forms a ball and comes away from the bowl. Add a drop more milk if it is looking too dry at this stage.
Take the dough and roll out onto a floured work top. Aim to roll the dough to about 2cm thick before you start cutting out. I used a 7cm cutter on the serrated side. Once you have cut out as many as possible, shape the dough back into a ball (trying not to handle too much) and roll out again. Repeat this until you've used all the dough.
Place your scones on the baking tray and use a milk or egg wash on top of the scones to give them a sheen. I always use milk.
Place in your reheated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until the scones have risen and are golden on top.
Take out and cool on a cooling rack and dust with icing sugar.
Always serve them on the day with clotted cream and jam!