Of all the baking-related questions I get asked, the most common relate to scones. Who would have thought that making such an everyday treat could involve so many hazards? Seems that many people’s efforts turn out like leaden rock cakes rather than the light and fluffy vehicles of jam and cream. Scones are a long-standing favourite of mine: quick and easy to knock up for guests. Here I share the lessons I have learned over the years for ensuring perfect scones. You might like to apply these tips to my recipe for Barberry and Pecan Scones in the recipe section of this website.
1. Chill all the ingredients and the utensils.
If you know you’re going to be making scones some time ahead place the ingredients, including the flour, and the bowl, spoon etc in the fridge the night before. This is one occasion when you want the butter hard.
2. Sieve the flour five times.
Yes, you read that right – five times! This may seem excessive but trust me this ensures that you get plenty of air into the flour. The result will be a light fluffy texture.
3. Keep kneading to a minimum
You should only knead for long enough to bring the dough together.
4. Roll the dough to a thickness of ¾ to 1 inch
5. Stamp out with the cutter
When you are cutting out the scones do not twist the cutter. Twisting to detach the cutter from the dough will stretch the gluten strands which will constrain the rise. Push the cutter down and pull it up straight.
6. Be careful with the eggwash
When dipping your brush in the eggwash (see recipe) be careful to remove excess by brushing against edge of container. Lightly brush eggwash over each scone avoiding runs down the side. If there is a run the eggwash will prevent that side from rising, producing a lop-sided scone.