It’s hard to describe scones to someone who’s never had them before…but it’s also hard not to fall for them when you do try them.
I had never tried scones before coming to Australia, but now consider myself quite a big fan of their buttery, comforting goodness. You could say that they are a bit of a cross between a bread, a cake and a biscuit, but not quite any of the above. They should have a nice firm golden crust and tall, fluffy and crumbly insides, scented with the unmistakeable aroma of butter. They should be served fresh right out of the oven while the insides are still steamy, and are rather difficult to reheat once cooled as they tend to dry out.
Perfect for breakfast or brunch, they should always be served with thick cream (double cream or sour cream are best) an array of jams and preserves, and PLENTY of cups of piping hot tea to wash them down.
Taking only a few short minutes to put together, using zero fancy equipment or techniques, and needing only a short baking time, they are wonderful to serve to a large crowd for a relaxed late weekend or holiday breakfast, with an irresistible aroma that will get even the laziest, most reluctant family member to abandon the warmth and comfort of their beds on a chilly morning.
There are endless varieties of scones and so many ways you could flavour them (such as this delicious pumpkin version, or visit my friend Rebecca the scone queen’s blog for heaps more), but my favourite continues to be the humble plain scone, which acts as the perfect blank canvas for any and every jam or topping your heart could possibly desire.
I love this recipe, as I have tried several before and found that the addition of buttermilk produces such an irresistibly flaky result with the slightest hint of a tang that gives the scones a bit more depth of flavour.
Do give them a try the next time you want to feed your loved ones something special and wonderfully communal, yet laid-back and a breeze to make. Be sure to brew several large pots of your favourite teas for the perfect accompaniment to these lovely little pastries!
Ps: they would make a pretty fantastic Easter breakfast or brunch! 😉
- 500g plain flour
- 2 tbsp. baking powder
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- ½ tsp. salt
- 65g butter, cold & cut into cubes
- 400ml buttermilk (rayeb in Arabic)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- a little cream for brushing (use whichever cream you will be serving the cooked scones with)
- TO SERVE:
- double cream, whipped cream or sour cream
- assortment of your favourite jams
- Preheat oven to 210 C (410F)
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar & salt until evenly mixed.
- Add the butter, & rub it into the flour with the tips of your fingers until the butter is evenly distributed & the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. There should be no large bits of butter left, but the butter should still be visible. It doesn’t need to be perfect at all!
- Make a well in the centre of the mixture and pour in the buttermilk & vanilla. Use a flat table knife to mix everything until the dough almost comes together, then tip it all out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead it lightly with your hands until the dough just comes together (don’t over-mix it, as this will result in tough scones!).
- Flatten the dough into a rectangle about 3cm thick. If you prefer, you can use a round cookie cutter to cut out round shapes from the dough, but I prefer to simply use a sharp knife and divide the rectangular block of dough into about 12-15 squares. Transfer the circles/squares of dough to a baking tray lined with baking paper so that they are very close together, even lightly touching is fine.
- Brush the tops of the scones with a little cream, then bake in the hot oven for about 15-17 minutes, or until the tops are nicely golden and the scones sound hollow when tapped. Serve while still warm, with your choice of cream and jams, and plenty of tea!