I started out trying to recreate the sourdough scones from SQIRL after a recent trip to LA, but ended up adapting this far simpler recipe from Nigella Lawson. I add 2 tablespoons of sourdough starter plus half a cup of currants and some lemon zest, then brush the tops with buttermilk, but that’s all that remains of the SQIRL recipe.
Whole Foods carries clotted cream, but butter and jam work equally well.
- 1 1/3 cups (167g) all purpose flour
- 2/3 teaspoon (3g) baking soda
- 2/3 teaspoon (3g) cream of tartar
- 2/3 teaspoon (3g) superfine sugar
- 1 1/3 tablespoons (16.7g) unsalted butter
- 2/3 tablespoon (8.33g) soft vegetable shortening
- 4/9 cup (100ml) buttermilk
- beaten egg, for an egg wash (optional)
Proper scones should not have the smooth-sided denseness of the store-bought variety. And they are so worth making. Until you have made a batch of scones you won’t have any idea how easy they are to throw together. Frankly, it shouldn’t take longer than 20 minutes to make and bake them, from start to finish.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and line a large lipped baking sheet with parchment paper.
Put the flour into a bowl with the baking soda, cream of tartar, and sugar. Chop the butter and the vegetable shortening into pieces and drop them into the flour. Rub the fats into the flour – or just mix any old how – and then pour in the buttermilk, working everything together to form a dough.
Lightly flour your work surface. Pat the dough into a round-edged oblong about 1 3/4 inches thick and cut out 2-inch scones with a biscuit cutter. (Mine are never a uniform height, as I only pat the dough into its shape without worrying whether it’s irregular or not.)
Arrange the scones fairly close together on your lined baking sheet, and brush with beaten egg or buttermilk (to give golden tops) or not as you wish.
Bake for 12 minutes, by which time the scones will be dry on the bottom and have a relatively light feel. Remove them to a wire rack to cool, and serve with clotted cream and your favourite jam.
Scones are best on the day they are made but day-old scones can be revived by warming in oven preheated to 300 degrees F for 5 to 10 minutes.
Baked scones can be frozen in airtight containers or resealable bags for up to one month. Thaw for 1 hour at room temperature and warm as above.
Unbaked scones can be put on parchment-lined trays and frozen until solid. Transfer to resealable bags and freeze for up to 3 months. Bake direct from frozen, as directed in recipe, but allowing extra 2 to 3 minutes baking time.