The key to making perfect scones is to work lightly and quickly, don’t overmix the dough as the scones will become tough.
Here is a great scone recipe which I got from my favourite website for baking recipes - The Joy of Baking, I have made some additions to the method and provided step by step pictures and some tips.
These scones have a nice crusty exterior with a light and soft interior which has a rich buttery flavour.
• 2 cups plain flour, sifted
• ¼ cup caster sugar
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• ¼ salt
• 80g cold unsalted butter
• 1 large egg, lightly beaten
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• ½ cup cream (ie: whipping cream)
(The butter and cream should be used cold - straight from the fridge)
Preheat oven to 200C and line baking trays with greaseproof paper.
Cut the butter into small pieces. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
With the tips of your fingers, rub the butter into the flour mixture until it forms coarse crumbs. (You can use a food processor for this step but many recipes recommend mixing by hand to prevent overmixing the dough. It is important that the butter is cold when it is worked into the flour mixture so that is becomes small flour coated crumbs and not a smooth dough. This process is similar to how a pie pastry dough is made and gives the biscuit a wonderful delicate and flaky texture)
In a small measuring cup, combine the cream, beaten egg and vanilla. Add this mixture into the flour mixture.
Use a pastry knife (a knife that has rounded edges) to cut/mix the liquid into the flour mixture until just combined and you get a lumpy, soft, sticky doughy texture.
Lightly flour work surface and your hands. Gather up the dough mixture from the bowl in your hands and press it together into a cohesive mass, and then put it onto the floured work surface, and knead quickly and lightly until the dough is nice and smooth. (Only knead for a minute or so, just enough to shape it into a rough ball, be careful not to overwork it or you will end up with a tough scone)
Use you hands to gently press/pat the dough out to about 2-3cm thick.
Cut the dough into rounds with a cookie cutter (slowly twisting the cutter into the dough rather then pushing it straight through as this produces higher scones). Dip the cutter into some flour before each cut (so the dough doesn’t stick to the cutter and it will come out easier). Press together the remaining dough and cut out more rounds.
Place the rounds onto a baking tray. (Scones that are placed closer together, that is, almost touching will have softer sides and their crusts will be less crispy, if you place the scones further apart, they will be crusty all over). Brush the tops of the scones with a little cream (this helps to brown the tops of the scones during baking).
Bake the scones for about 12-15 minutes until they have risen and are golden, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
(Not the prettiest looking scones, but they taste amazing!)
Served split open with jam and crème fraiche!