When I lived in the UK, one of the many foods that I discovered were scones. I’d heard of them before, of course, but I’d never had any reason or inclination to try them. Friends of mine used to enjoy whipping up a batch as an afternoon snack. One afternoon when I visited, we made a fresh batch and ate them with strawberry jam and heaps of double cream. They were simple, sweet, and delicious. After that, I made a point to a) find my own go-to recipe, and b) have scones whenever the opportunity presented itself, especially when visiting country houses and castles.
Scones originated in Scotland, where they were with unleavened oats and baked on a griddle before being cut into triangular sections for serving. The word is first recorded in the early 16th century, so they have been around in some form for the better part of 500 years. Scones became a popular component of the Afternoon tea, after Anna, the Duchess of Bedford (1788 – 1861) ordered her servants to bring her tea and some sweet breads, which included scones.
Scones can be sweet or savoury. Some are made from oats or potatoes; others include dried fruit or nuts. My favourite way to eat a scone is with the ubiquitous strawberry jam and double (or clotted) cream. Double cream can be hard to find in North America, so I don’t have scones as often as I did in the UK.
My favourite scone recipe is and old one from cooking.com—from so long ago that the website no longer exists! You can easily halve the recipe, which I often do, and they freeze well.
Buttermilk Raisin Scones
Makes 9 scones
2 cups A/P flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled
1 cup raisins
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 2 tsp lemon juice topped with milk to total a 1/2 cup)
1. Preheat the oven to 385 F. Lightly oil a baking sheet.
2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or by hand until the pieces are the size of peas. Add in the raisins.
3. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Add the egg and buttermilk to the well. Stir liquid ingredients, then mix everything together until just combined.
4. Turn the mixture onto a floured surface. With floured hands, pat the dough out to a rectangular shape about 1 inch thick. Fold the dough over itself, pat out again, then fold it back into a circular shape. (Basically, fold the dough over itself twice)
5. Cut scones into triangular shapes, or use a 2-3” diameter biscuit cutter to cut the dough evenly into 9 scones.
6. Place the scones about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. For a nicely golden top, brush scones with milk or an eggwash (optional).
7. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden. Serve with jam, and butter or double cream.