When I was a kid scones were always on the menu at Grandma’s house. I’m told she used to make prize-winning cheese scones back in the day and I certainly have vivid memories of cheese scones for afternoon tea in the lounge room at Epping. I can remember exactly how they tasted, and the Tupperware container that the left-overs were put away in, and wishing I could have just one more but not asking because I knew my mum and my grandma would both frown on such an expression of greed. I don’t cook cheese scones myself, mostly because the lure of jam and cream is too hard to resist.
I learned how to cook scones from my Mum so long ago that I don’t remember not knowing how, but it was my dad’s sister, my Aunty Meg, who taught me how to cook awesome scones. Aunty Meg lived in Melbourne and we didn’t see her very often, but her visits were always quite memorable. One time when she was visiting, and staying at our place, my parents were on morning tea duty at church. So Meg decided she would cook scones for the whole congregation. This was no big deal apparently because she had for some years owned a cafe restaurant which specialised in Devonshire teas and for which she cooked all the scones, so a mere congregation’s worth – no worries!
Whenever I cook scones I can see Meg standing there in my mum’s kitchen, bossing everyone around and explaining to me what made a good scone.
Tonight I was seized with the scone baking urge and when I asked “Dates or plain?” the internets said “Both” which is why I have photos of two batches of scones, one lot plain, the other with raisins (turned out I didn’t have any dates).
I very much doubt there’s anything particularly special about my version of the ubiquitous scone recipe, but I thought if I was going to taunt you with food pron I’d better give you the recipe too.
2 cups self raising flour
2 tablespoons butter
1 pinch salt
1 dessert spoon of sugar
1 cup of milk
Pre-heat oven to 210°C and line a tray with baking paper.
Combine flour salt and sugar in a mixing bowl.
Cut the butter into small pieces and rub into the flour mix with your fingertips, you’re done when there are no more lump in the flour (never have understood this fine breadcrumbs thing – doesn’t bear any resemblance at all!).
At this point you can add chopped dried dates or raisins or sultanas if you like – half a cup or thereabouts.
Add the milk, reserving a small amount for brushing on the scones before baking.
Mix with a knife until dough just comes together – the less handling the better. The dough may seem quite wet, that’s ok.
Dust a pastry board with flour and tip the dough out onto the board.
Knead VERY gently – I barely do more than just push the dough together and fold it in on itself a couple of times.
Flatten dough into a disc about 3cm thick and cut scones with a round pastry cutter – push straight down and don’t twist the cutter, that’ll make the scones rise all wonky.
Place on the paper lined tray and brush tops with milk.
Bake for around 12-15 minutes – keep an eye on them – they’re cooked when they’re a nice golden brown on top and sound hollow when tapped.
When you take the scones out of the oven you can wrap them in a clean tea towel if you want – it’ll give them a softer crust. Or you can just go ahead and break them open and eat ’em – that works too.