They had said that they wouldn’t want a meal to eat; but casually commented that they were sure that I had something freshly baked hanging around to be enjoyed with a cup of tea. Whilst this is invariably the case in my house (because I love cooking and baking and trying out new recipes) I have to admit that I actually had nothing freshly baked on this occasion.
I considered rushing off and quickly buying something pre-made from the bakery in town but then I realised that it would actually be quicker and far tastier to whip up a batch of scones. This is the great thing about scones; the dough can be made, baked on ready to eat in under half an hour.
That day I made both plain and sultana scones, but the recipe that I present here is for cherry scones. You can choose to add whatever you like or leave out the fruit – basically whatever takes your fancy.
There is a wealth of advice available about how to make the perfect scone. I think that this recipe is extremely reliable and provided you follow a few simple rules, it should work perfectly.
Rule 1: Rub the butter in with your fingertips and not the palms of your hands.
Rule 2: Once you add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients do not over-mix or overwork the dough, because that will create a heavy scone. Once it has all come together in the bowl, I tip the dough out onto a lightly floured work-surface and knead it very briefly. I then flatten it gently with my hands (not a rolling pin) before stamping out the scones with a round cutter.
Rule 3: do not flatten/roll out the dough too much. It should be about 4cm high.
Rule 4: Do not twist the cutter when stamping out the scones as this can make them rise unevenly.
Rule 5: Make sure the oven is well preheated before baking the scones.
I love cherry scones simply spread with tasty Irish butter, but they are also fabulous spread with a little jam and served with a generous splodge of whipped/clotted cream.
Ingredients:350g self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
A generous pinch of salt
85g of very cold butter
30g caster sugar
50g glace cherries, halved
175ml buttermilk (or ordinary milk with a couple of drops of fresh lemon juice)
1 egg, beaten
Method:1. Preheat oven to 220C/Fan Oven 200C/Gas Mark 7. Line a baking tray with some non-stick baking parchment and set aside.
2. Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt together, into a large mixing bowl. Take the butter and grate it using a large holed coarse grater, into the flour. Mix through the rated butter and then rub briefly with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and halved cherries.
3. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the milk. Mix briefly with a blunt knife until the mixture just comes together.
4. Tip out on to a lightly floured work-surface and knead very briefly. Flatten the dough with your hands until it is about 4cms thick and then using a 6cm round cutter, stamp out rounds of the dough. Bring any excess dough together and stamp out further rounds but try not to overwork the dough.
5. Brush the top of each scone with a little of the beaten egg and immediately place into the oven to bake for 12-14 minutes until the scones are well risen and golden brown.
Makes 6 scones.