I have, at the request of one of my seven or so readers, decided to consider the humble scone this week. Scones, which are made up of the simplest of ingredients, can often result in lumpy rocks instead of light-as-air puffs.
However, scones should be in every student’s repertoire – they’re very cheap to make, quick, an interesting carb-tastic alternative and – despite how you have fared in the past – quite easy to make.
Two important things to remember:
– Cut the butter into really small cubes before you start, as this will make the incorporation of it into the flour so much easier.
– Forget kneading the dough – unless you are a seasoned baker, this is a sure-fire path to leaden scones. This dough doesn’t like being over-handled.
Ironically, it is the one time in baking where I tend not to be too precise about measurements, as I feel that the method is the important thing. The following are rough measurements, which work for me – and I hope they will for you, too.
2 1⁄2 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk
Preheat oven to 200°C and put some baking paper on an oven tray. Place the flour and baking powder into a large-ish bowl. You want cold butter, so don’t go microwaving it thinking it will make the job easier. Many recipes will tell you to cut the butter into the flour with a knife, but I have found that by cubing the butter very small first, it makes the task less gruelling.
Tip the buttery dice into the flour, and using your thumbs and fingertips, rub them together (using the sort of motion you might employ to show someone the world’s smallest violin) until they aren’t separate entities anymore. Yes, you get a bit floury at this point, and it does take a while to incorporate the ingredients together – but it’s easier, and if you have that much of a problem, what are you doing here? Go eat some toast, or something. Get a friend to slowly pour in about 3⁄4 cup of milk, and switch to a spoon to fold the ingredients together gently. Don’t over-mix. Add more milk if things are still dry down there. Now spoon out lumps of about golf ball size and place them on the baking tray. Sure, they will be a little unsightly but this method (rather than kneading, rolling out, and cutting shapes) means that you handle the dough far less and therefore are more likely to get decent scones. Don’t worry if the dough looks a sticky glutinous mass, it generally cooks into something edible. Bake these scones-to-be for 10-20 minutes (depending on size) until they have some colour and a tap on the bottom gives a hollow sound. Eat – gratifyingly, with lots of butter – and wait for your flatmates to beg for them.
If you do have any requests, just say hello or get in touch via the Salient office, and I will see what I can do.