It’s a very long time since I’ve made scones; so long I even wondered if I ever had. But I’m pretty sure I made them reasonably often years ago but of late I’ve left the scone making to my daughter Nicola who gets the most amazing results in her Aga and I always refer to ‘Nicola’s scones’ as the best anywhere. But scones came into a conversation with grandson Freddie (6½) yesterday. I’d picked him up from school and gave him supper. I always let him watch a TV programme on my iPad while he eats and I sit with him and we talk about it. The choice is usually David Attenborough or Chris Packham – basically anything about wild life! But over the last week or so, since introducing him to Channel 5’s Our Yorkshire Farm, that’s been his choice of viewing. It’s a programme about a family living on a farm in one of the remotest parts of Yorkshire: Clive and Amanda Owen have nine children. Ranging in age from pre-school to university age, I’ve become quite hooked on it myself, marvelling at how this large family works; how happy and confident the kids are; how even four year olds are given ‘jobs’ and are responsible for feeding ‘their’ animal.
Anyway, we watched an episode where they were taking animals, hens’ eggs and homemade goods to a local farm show. One of the goods was scones. ‘You must have had scones when you’ve been to Cornwall,’ I said to Freddie; they often holiday in Cornwall. I went on to describe a Cornish cream tea. Freddie thought he hadn’t; but then maybe that he’d had scones with jam. So, with him and his brother Ben (3½) coming after school for supper and a sleepover at my house tonight, I decided we just had to have a Cornish Cream Tea. And scones were made. I used a Delia Smith recipe, changing it slightly by using soft butter (not straight from fridge), rather than ‘spreadable butter’, and some Heritage flour with baking powder rather than self-raising flour. I love this Heritage flour from Sharpham Park for its wonderful nutty taste and use it a lot for cakes and crumble topping. It’s not really ‘wholemeal’ but slightly so with some visible bran, and thus you often need a little more liquid than if you use white flour. I was able to buy some genuine Cornish – Rodda’s – clotted cream at the little local Sainsbury’s nearby and had to go with French jam as sourcing Cornish was a step too far in Twickenham!
I made the scones early in the day but the recipe – and any I looked at – said they’re best eaten warm, soon after coming out of the oven. I guess you could warm them to serve, but really they’re fine cold if eaten on the same day. I don’t think you’d want to make them the day before and they certainly need eating up fairly quickly – but that’s not likely to be a problem as they’re so delicious!
I used a small 5cm cutter as I wanted mini-sized scones – partly so the boys weren’t filled up eating them not long before supper, and I promised a second for pudding after they’d eaten their burgers. However, you can make a larger (8cm) size if you prefer.
Scones with Jam & Clotted Cream – Makes about 8-12 depending on size
- 225g plain flour sifted with 2 rounded teaspoons baking powder (or 225g self-raising flour)
- 40g soft butter
- 1½ level tablespoons caster sugar
- 110ml milk (and a little more depending on your flour)
- Clotted cream and jam of choice
Preheat oven to 220C/Fan 200/Gas 7
Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper
First of all, sift the flour (and baking powder if using) into a large bowl. Add the soft butter and mix in with your fingertips (don’t use a food processor or electric mixer for this), then stir in the caster sugar.
Slowly pour in the milk and using a knife, mix into a stiff dough.
Knead a little on a floured surface until you have a smooth, soft dough – but don’t knead for too long or your scones will be heavy!
Roll out the dough on the floured surface until it’s about 2cm thick. Use a pastry cutter to cut out the scones into the size you want (see above – mine were small 5cm size). Place on the lined baking sheet. Dust with a little more flour. Then put into the preheated oven for about 10-12 minutes (larger scones may need 15 minutes).
Remove from the oven when well risen and light golden brown.
Transfer to a cooling rack. As said above, ideally these should be made at the last minute and eaten while still warm (not hot), but they’ll be fine eaten cooled a few hours after making them.
For a proper Cornish tea you need some jam and clotted cream. Real clotted cream is essential – whipped cream just isn’t the same, though of course if you can’t source clotted cream then whipped double cream will still be very good (don’t use whipping cream which is too light). Clotted cream is very thick, almost like butter, and traditionally butter isn’t served too. Clotted cream is also incredibly delicious – a real, glorious treat!
I had the tea ready for when the boys were dropped off after school. I knew they’d be hungry but it was quite late because of Freddie’s after-school football, but I knew they’d also be hungry. The mini scones would keep them going until suppertime but hopefully not fill them up too much.
We sat down together, they had juice and Nonna had a cup of tea.
Of course we had to have a discussion about Cornish v. Devon tea. This is a big point of contention in UK. In Cornwall, the jam goes on first with the cream on top; in Devon they put the cream on first (like butter) and then the jam. I’ve always done it the Cornish way; Freddie decided to do both. Before supper he had the Cornish version; after supper, having his second scone for pudding, he put the cream on first. I asked him if they tasted different. He wasn’t sure – but he was sure he loved them!
I was really pleased with my scones. I’d been a little worried using the Heritage flour would make them a bit heavy, but they weren’t; they were lovely and light and had such a gorgeous flavour from using the flour. I’d made 12. They didn’t last long. Some went home with the boys’ mum for her and their dad when she dropped them round to me. I’d had one earlier in the day ‘to check it was okay’; the last one went to Freddie – with just butter this time – as a bedtime snack once Ben was asleep and we were tucked up on the sofa together watching TV.
They were a great success. Scones are funny things, so simple to make with so few ingredients, but they can go very wrong and come out heavy and doughy. Lightness is the key and I guess that comes from the ratio of the ingredients you use and also the lightness of hand mixing it all. Now I’ve finally got round to making them again, and they were such a success, I think I’ll be making them more often.