The Kitchen continues to search for the perfect scone. Is the scone destined to play a supporting role only? Is the perfectly brewed pot of English tea the star while the scone is the co-star of the show? The English Lady affirms yes. That is the role of the scone. It should be plain with a tender crumb. It should be only slightly sweet and it should be smaller than its larger American cousin.
I next asked the Royal Scone Lady for advice. She has been trained to know a good royal scone when she eats one. Her training is extensive, and her experience has taken her to tea rooms around the world. She graciously ate and commented upon my latest scone.
She first agreed with The English Lady that a proper British scone should be rather plain. It is OK to add currants but it is generally preferred to serve the scone with clotted cream and fresh sliced strawberries or jam.
We pulled my scone apart for taste and texture. A true royal British scone will have a craggy top, only a hint of sugar, and will be slightly on the dry side. The texture of my scone gave away its too high sugar content and off kilter fat to sugar ratio before the first bite was taken. It was too cakey and a bit too moist. The craggy top, however, was just right.
I then asked about the shape and method of baking. Should scones be round? Is triangle or square an acceptable shape? What about baking them in a scone pan? The answer to all my questions was, “Yes.” Scones may vary in shape but a scone should not be a meal in itself. It may be baked in a scone pan.
All that said, one would think my scone was awful. But such was not the case. It was delicious and would have paired nicely with a cup of hot beverage. If it were to land in an American coffee shop it just might gain a loyal following. It was pleasantly sweet and had a tender cakey crumb. Therein lies the problem. It was ever so slightly too sweet and was over the top too cakey.
So why would The Kitchen offer its latest scone recipe after pointing out all of its flaws? The answer is simple. The scone-ish pastry was delicious. It would make an excellent side to your morning coffee or tea. It is quick and simple to put together and is sure to please your guests.
2 cups all-purpose flour
⅓ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 cup cream
Preheat oven to 450°.
Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl.
Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour until crumbly and the butter is the size of small peas. Chill the mixture for 10-15 minutes.
Add all but 2 tablespoons of the cream and mix with a wooden spoon just until the dough is mostly pulled together. It is at this point that I use my hands to incorporate the remaining flour. Be careful to avoid overmixing. Overmixing will develop gluten which will cause your scone-ish to be tough.
Turn the dough out onto wax paper and gently press it into a 7” circle. Cut the round into 8 wedges. Place the wedges 2 inches apart on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Brush the tops of the Scone-ish with the remaining cream just until moistened. Sprinkle a larger grain sugar, such as turbinado, on the tops. Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes.
If you have a scone pan then generous spray it with a nonstick spray. Divide the dough into 8 equal portions and gently pat the dough into each section of the pan. Then brush the tops of the scones with cream and sprinkle with sugar.
These are a tasty coffee side but will always be referred to as a Scone-ish in The Kitchen. According to the Royal Scone Lady these simply do not fit the definition of a proper scone. But they are delicious!