Tips for better scones

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Whether its plain, date, blueberry and white chocolate or savoury, scones are without a doubt the favourite baked good in my household. Nothing disappears faster from my cake dome (let alone the hot oven) when I make these at home, and if you haven’t given these a try before, pump the oven, roll up those sleeves and prepare to be covered in flour!

For the many people who think that scones are difficult to make (this includes you mum), I am writing this post to show you the easy (and unknown) techniques to get the tallest and most impressive scones. I’ve included my recipe for plain scones (below) and with no particular techniques, abnormal ingredients or special equipment needed, you can actually start to make these right away!

Keep in mind – This recipe is one you can make with simple ingredients that you will most definitely already have in the house! There are many recipes which call for lemonade, cream, buttermilk or soda to improve the taste and textures of your scones, but I haven’t found the need to change from the simple 4 ingredient one I use : )

Once you’ve perfected plain scones, get creative and experiment! Add a pinch of lemon zest with chopped dates, or perhaps choc bits, nuts and seeds are more your thing! Whatever it is, nothing beats freshly baked scones straight out of the oven with a lather of butter, jam and cream (thats if you can wait to whip the cream!)

Tips for perfect scones

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1. Hot oven – The hotter the oven, the faster the bake. The faster the bake, the more they will rise! With the oven at 200 degrees the cold scones will lift up faster and therefore higher, creating handsomely tall scones. Also, placing the scones on the top shelf will give the tops a nice crust.

2. Cold ingredients – Ensure the butter and the milk is very cold! This actually helps them rise!

3. Working the dough – Be sure to not over mix or kneed your dough. You want it to be wet and slightly sticky but still manageable. Kneading your dough will convert the protein in the flour to gluten and will create chewy, tough scones. We want moist, tender scones.

4. Wet is good – The wetter the mixture, the more moist and fluffy the texture will be. Having a dry mixture (too much flour) will create tough, dense scones.

5. Cutting – When cutting the shapes of your scones, push the cutter straight down until it hits the bench top and then pull straight up. Try to prevent twisting the cutter as the turning movement creates a lopsided scone when it bakes.

6. Scones like to snuggle – If your putting cold dough into a lovely hot oven, place your scones close together. This will ensure they grow upwards and not outwards, creating ultimate lift!

Basic Plain Scones

 – INGREDIENTS – 

3 cups Self-raising flour, sifted

1 tablespoon Caster sugar

Pinch of Salt

80 grams Butter, chopped

1 1/4 cups Milk, plus extra to glaze

– METHOD –  

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius and line a baking tray with baking paper. Lightly dust your work bench with flour.

2. Cut your butter into small cubes and place in a cold spot – I put mine in a bowl and place it in the freezer.

3. Measure out your milk and place it back in the fridge to keep it cool.

4. Place flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl and combine so the ingredients are evenly distributed.

5. Remove the butter from the freezer and add it to the dry ingredients but rubbing each cube into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

6. Make a well in the centre and slowly add majority of the milk, about 1 cup. Using your hands slowly stir the milk into the mixture, collecting it from the bottom and sides of the bowl. If the mixture is too dry, slowly add the remaining milk until a sticky dough is formed. Alternatively, if you don’t like the feeling of sticky dough all over your hands, mix the milk into the flour with a knife (called ‘cutting’) to ensure you don’t over work the dough.

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7. Tip the dough from the bowl onto the lightly floured surface. If the dough is very wet, add a little sprinkle of flour on top and onto your hands. Gently kneed the dough once or twice to bring it together and make it smooth. Remember – Don’t over work it! Your scones will become tough and chewy : ( !!

8. Gently pat down your dough into a disc, approximately 2 cm high. Using a scone cutter, egg ring or the top of a glass, cut out as many shapes as you can fit. Just like cutting cookies, collect the scraps and gently shape into a smaller disc and continue cutting until there is no remaining dough.

9. Place each scone on the prepared baking tray, ensuring they are close to one another. I usually put them in rows of 3 by 4 (12 scones). Gently brush the tops with milk for glaze and pop them in the hot oven. Bake at 200 degrees for 10 – 15 minutes until well risen and golden brown on top. The scones will slide easily on the tray once they are cooked and their insides will still be soft, but not doughy!

10. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly and serve warm with jam and cream.

Alternative number 10. Transfer straight to your mouth with a lather of butter on each half. Mmmmm!

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