Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Here today, scone tomorrow.

When I was younger, I wanted to be a journalist (for all of about a day). Thank goodness I reconsidered my career aspirations - I'd have needed to be much better at thinking up titles!

I see a lot of scone recipes on the internet and in my cookbooks, and they all tend to be quite similar, but I was never really completely happy with any that I tried. Then when I went back to college to study patisserie, my tutor mentioned that housewives (and he used the term "housewives" in a derogatory manner!) use self raising flour for scones, but bakers use strong flour and that's why the scones you see in bakeries are much taller than the ones you make at home. It made sense to me, as the higher gluten content is what helps bread rise so high, so I thought I'd give it a try.

I tried a recipe using strong flour from Paul Hollywood's 100 Great Breads and it was good but a bit of a faff, so I continued experimenting. This recipe came from James Martin on Saturday Kitchen, although I use much less milk than the lovely James does as I found his dough really sticky and too difficult to work with. I liked the results so much that this is now the recipe I use for the scones I make at work!


450g strong white flour
5 tsp baking powder (yes, 5 tsp, really)
Big pinch of salt
200ml milk
2 eggs
75g cold butter, diced
75g caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 220ºC.

Mix together the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Rub the butter into this mixture until it looks like breadcrumbs. Mix the eggs and milk together with a fork and add this to the rest of the mixture, mixing it together with the fork, and use your hands to bring it all together.

Turn out the mixture onto a floured surface and knead it lightly so you end up with a soft and rather sticky dough. Use your hands to flatten the dough out to about 3/4 inch thick, and cut circles with whatever size cutter you fancy. Dip the cutter in flour first - this dough is sticky! Don't twist the cutter as you push down, as this will make the dough clump together and it won't rise evenly.

Place the cut out circles on a non stick baking tray. Clump the trimmings together, flatten them out again and cut out more circles, and repeat till all the dough is used up. I use a cutter that's about 3" in diameter and I usually get about 10 scones.

Brush the tops with beaten egg or milk, if you like (or don't bother - for the scones in the photos here, I didn't bother glazing them at all), but try not to let it run down the sides. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until the scones have browned nicely on top.

If you like, you can add sultanas, chopped glacé cherries or other dried fruit - use about 100g, and add them to the dry mix before adding the milk and eggs.

I very much doubt that the Women's Institute would approve of the use of strong flour but I really don't care because these are light, fluffy and yummy, and they taste very good indeed when warmed for 20 seconds in the microwave and smeared with the last of the gooseberry jam I made last July!


  1. Your scones look so perfectly light...I will have to abandon my housewife ways and try strong (we call it bread) flour for my next batch!

  2. OMG! Where did you get that plate in the second photo?! I sooo want one of those! So cute!

    Oh, nice scones too.

  3. Very funny, darling husband. By the way the 1970s called, it says it wants its plate back. Any more sarcasm and you'll be eating Tesco sandwiches for lunch in future.

    Jessica - let me know what you think if you do try it with the bread flour :)

  4. as you know i'm searching for the perfect scone recipe, so I must include this on my list, your scones look fabulous... I have also heard the rumour about using breadmaking flour to get that super rise, so i will give it a go!, thank you, they do look amazing x

  5. Ah, Aveen, this post made me laugh - I wanted to be a ballet dancer when I was young but became a journalist instead... and now I want to be a pastry chef (but I might just lie down until that one passes). I can't abide James Martin so I'm going to pretend you made these up all by yourself, they look fab!

  6. Wow those look like amazing scones. I went to baking and pastry school and the teachers were something else! Is your plate from West Elm?! I know that is super weird but I went there for the first time recently and bought like 6 plates, they are amazing!

  7. Hehe no, my silly husband actually meant the plate in the third photo, it's one his parents had for years and years and when he left home for college he took it with him and he's had it ever since. I think it's hideous, but it is the right size for a scone which is how it ended up in the photo! The other, red & white ones are Spode Christmas plates which I love.

  8. Made this this morning with my 6 month old son watching on-highly entertaining as I glued my hands to the very sticky dough BUT scones turned out beautifully. I added 100g dried mixed fruit as suggested, made 13 scones in total, all a good size. Will definitely be using this recipe again-thanks!


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