Aside from enjoying it with a large cup of tea with good friends, there are a few key things to remember when creating the perfect teatime treat. We’ve asked the resident Court House pastry aficionado for his top tips on baking a batch at home.
Use the best quality ingredients you can
Proper butter – not margarine, unrefined sugar and a good quality cake flour.
Don’t mess with it too much!
This is a common mistake. Overworking the batter when combining the ingredients or kneading too much before rolling out can lead to activating the gluten in the flour, leaving you with a tough and flat result. Work the mix with your fingertips only (with cold hands), rubbing together the fat and the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Bring it together lightly and quickly, cover it and leave it for a bit. Even ten minutes will make a difference, allowing any overworked gluten to relax, making sure your scones will be crumbly and light.
You could add a little salt
Not too much, no more than pinch, but salt is a flavour enhancer and will make any other added ingredients sing.
Go easy on the raising agents
Some bakers swear by bicarb, baking powder or cream of tartar or even a combination of all three. Certainly try it out but be aware that using too much raising agent – particularly if you are already using self-raising flour which has baking powder added – can leave a slightly salty, fizzy aftertaste.
Once you have your basic mix, go wild! Add anything you like, bearing in mind that anything too wet like frozen fruit will affect the consistency of the mix and the final scone, so stick to fresh or dried fruits instead. Otherwise, pretty much anything goes from cheese to pineapple, or chocolate to good old fashioned sultanas.
Push, don’t twist
Dust your chosen cutter with flour before every scone and push it down before pulling it directly up. Twisting to release it will stop the scones from rising. Brush with egg wash, stick them in a fairly hot oven – around 200 – 220°c for 10 to 12 minutes and you’re good to go.
If all of this sounds just too much like hard work, The Court House has a delicious range of freshly baked scones every day!