The quest for scone perfection

I’ve got a really atrocious reputation for making scones. The one time I presented my husband with a batch his description was something like “plutonium-filled depth charges”. So, not great then.

But today, I tried a new recipe and they came out brilliantly – my better half could only come up with “crumbly” as a criticism (I can live with that!), and he had to go back for seconds just to be sure. They were light, delicious and golden, and the secret, according to Nigella, is the Cream of Tartar. I’ve no idea what’s in this mysterious substance, but as soon as the scones go into a really hot oven they immediately start billowing up. The best thing about scones? Only 10 minutes in the oven and by the time you’ve split them open and covered them in jam they’re ready to eat.

Heat the oven to 220°C, and don’t be tempted to put the scones in until it’s hit that mark. Sift 250g flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 good heaped teaspoon bicarbonate of soda and 2 heaped teaspoons of cream of tartar. Dice 75g of cold butter and rub in with your fingertips until it’s all combined and looks like crumbs. At this point, you can get fancy and add a small handful of dried fruit or some grated cheese. Then tip 150ml of milk into the bowl, mix just enough to bring everything stickily together and tip out onto a floured surface. I don’t want to say “knead” the mixture but just use your hands to make the dough into a coherent whole – I needed to sprinkle just a little flour in order to remove a bit of moisture. Then flatten it to about an inch, inch-and-a-half high and make six scone shapes. You can use a cutter, but I didn’t have one handy and just used a knife to cut rough wedges. Place the scones on a greased baking sheet, and brush the tops with a little beated egg. Bung in the very hot oven for 10 minutes until they are puffed up and golden.

Makes six, a perfect Sunday afternoon quantity for two very greedy people. Oh, sorry, no picture – just the crumbs left.

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Filed under Biscuits, Cakes, Recipe

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