Sunday, 4 May 2014

The Perfect Scone: Success At Last!

Do you have a particular cooking goal to succeed at a basic recipe which you have yet to achieve success with?  It's funny, when you talk with people who have been cooking for a long while you will find some struggle with pastry.  Some are baffled by pavlova.  Some think bread-making is only for the brave or the foolish.

My kitchen nemesis has been the humble scone.  Sad but true.

I consider myself a competent cook.  All the things I've listed above have never given me an ounce of frustration or trouble, but scones have been another story.  I've tried all kinds of recipes: the traditional rub-the-butter-in, lemonade scones, cream scones, using the food processor to do the rubbing in.  Really, I've tried them all.  My scones are kind of just OK when they're hot but they're absolute rocks when cold.  Demoralised, I had declared defeat and decided this was just something best left to others.  Pretty much the way my mother leaves the pavlova making to me (although she is certain the oven has a part to play).

The other day a friend at work had a scone for morning tea and it was still light and fluffy the day after she'd made it.  After a long round-table (literally...our staffroom tables are round) conversation about methods I thought perhaps one last attempt should be made.  As with all these things one heads to Google to see what 'fool-proof' recipe can be found.  And I may well have found the very thing for this scone-challenged cook.

A few years ago the Sydney Morning Herald ran an article about the best scone recipe and thanks to the wonders of the internet the article was easily available today.  It seems I'm not alone with this particular scone-making struggle.  The Country Women's Association in Australia is renowned for magnificent scones and this author tested a number of recipes (including ones I had tried).  She finally offered up a recipe I had not seen before so I gave it a go this afternoon.  You know what?  I think I found the recipe for me.  Rather than lemonade or cream or butter this recipe had an egg and oil in it.

They turned out beautifully.  I'll let you know tomorrow if they are still OK when cold.  But I'm fairly certain they will be.  The recipe and article can be found here.  I promise you the article is worth the read and the recipe lived up to it's touted 'perfect scone' label, and is worth storing however you store collected recipes (I use OneNote).

Recipe:  The Perfect Scone
 (Gloria Hyatt's recipe)

1 egg
4 tablespoons oil (Gloria uses vegetable oil)
2 cups milk
4 cups self-raising flour
1 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
  1. Beat the egg, oil and milk until combined. 
  2. Sift the flour, sugar and salt into a bowl. 
  3. Add the egg mixture to the flour. 
  4. Knead until just combined and then turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Pat into a flat shape of the thickness you'd like your scones. Hyatt prefers ¾ inch. 
  5. Cut with a floured scone cutter and then place on a greased tray. 
  6. Cook at 220 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.
Tracy's Note:  You will need to flour the bench very well and then flour the top of the dough well too, then it's not too sticky to handle.  I didn't actually do much more than turn it over two or three times and then pat it into shape for cutting the scones.

What's your kitchen nemesis?


Joolz said...

I make a good scone but will definitely be trying this one soon!

Joolz said...

The less kneading the better. As you did, scone dough really should only be shaped then flattened before cutting out the scones. You got a good result be ause of that.

Julie H said...

Hi Tracy,
I made these scones as part of a High Tea celebration for my MIL's birthday. I made half with White Wings gluten free flour and half with wheat flour - and both were a huge success!

Tracy said...

Thanks for letting me know Julie - I'll have to try the gluten free flour and see how it goes.

Your MIL's birthday sounds beautiful. High Tea....*sigh*