About two years ago I was introduced to Iranian cooking through Margaret Shaida’s classic book The Legendary Cuisine of Persia. The use of fruit in savoury dishes is a particular feature of this magnificent culinary tradition. Dried red barberries are especially common – imparting a tart flavor to various rice and meat dishes. Looking through my cupboards the other day for ingredients for a batch of scones my eyes fell on the stash of barberries amidst all the nuts, raisins and spices. I was curious to see how their sour flavor might work with the jam and chantilly cream with which I like to serve my scones. So, I experimented by mixing in the barberries with pecans for crunch. The result was very pleasing. If you feel inspired to try this for yourself the barberries should be readily available in small bags in Middle Eastern and Asian food stores or on-line.
Before starting, don’t forget to read my Six Top Tips for Perfect Scones
Preheat oven to 210C/450F/Gas5
- 1 kilo of self-raising flour
- 4tsps baking powder
- ½ tsp fine salt
- 130g Barberries
- 150g chopped pecans
- 150g butter
- 110g caster sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 430ml full-fat milk
- 1 beaten egg for glazing scone tops
- A good fruit preserve.
- 1 pint of double cream + 1 tsp of vanilla extract + 100g icing sugar. Whip with a whisk to soft peak stage that holds its peaks.
Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. And then sift again into another bowl. (I have been making scones for some 20 years and I sift the flour 5 times, which gives extra lightness and height to the scones). But try to sift at least 3 times to aerate the flour. Next rub in the butter until it is all absorbed into the flour. Beat the eggs together and add enough milk to take it to 570ml – 600ml. The final amount will depend on the flour used.
Gradually add in the liquid and using a wooden spoon bring together to form a soft dough. Knead lightly for 30 seconds, and roll out to ½” – ¾” thickness. Using a 2” cutter, stamp out scone rounds and place on to the prepared trays, leaving 1” between each scone. (Do not twist the cutter backwards and forwards as this will reduce the height of the baked scone). Reknead the leftover pieces, reroll and cut out as before until all the dough is used up.
Brush each scone with the beaten egg, but do not overfill the brush. If egg wash trickles down the side of the scone, it will harden and hold back the rise of the scone during baking. So a light coat is what you are aiming for.
Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until golden. Transfer to a cooling rack and cover with clean tea towels to keep their softness. When cold, cut in half. Place 3/4 tsp of your favourite jam in centre and pipe a ring of double cream round the jam. Press the upper half onto the cream. If you don’t want to pipe, just spoon some whipped cream over the jam and press upper scone half to spread cream out to the edge.
Will keep for 2 days. NB: Just halve the recipe for a smaller quantity.