proper scones and adventures in clotted cream.

daring bakers, january.

I'm a bit late posting this month, largely because I couldn't seem to wrap my head around the date at any point in the month (You mean to tell me it's 2012?) and because I was trying to get a jumpstart on work for the year. Which means something had to slip. I'm a little sad it was this blog.

BUT the sheer fantabulousness of the January challenge makes up for everything. I am always really thrilled when the challenge is for something simple - I can get really tired of shi shi cakes - and, thanks Audax, this month was basically the perfect food. Scones. Complete with an Audax-style lecture on the distinctions and cultural variations in the term scone. Amazing.

These are something I used to make often, but make less so now that I am mostly baking for me. Odd, really, because if there is any food I could eat forever, it's probably scones. With clotted cream. Mostly just clotted cream. Off a spoon. My ardour is such that the last time I had tea at the Wolseley, the server quickly caught on an brought me an entire extra plate of scones and a second dish of clotted cream. In one sitting, I ate 8 scones and two bowls of cream. I've never been happier.

The recipe supplied by Audax is definitely the best I've tried - perfect crumb, lovely crisp crust, really damn easy. I went the whole hog and made homemade clotted cream for this challenge, a twelve hour feat that results in a tiny cup of perfect, crusty, gold-topped clotted cream.

And the final matter: cream or jam first? This is a regional thing. Depending on the consistency of your clotted cream, it might be easier to spread jam on the scone first, then the cream, which makes it Cornish. Other way round, it's from Devon. Your choice.

The best clotted cream recipe I found is here, Cupcake Project.

Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers’ host. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (a/k/a biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens!


Basic Scones (a.k.a. Basic Biscuits)
Servings: about eight 2-inch (5 cm) scones or five 3-inch (7½ cm) scones
Recipe can be doubled

1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm/5 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (10 gm) (⅓ oz) fresh baking powder
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1½ gm) salt
2 tablespoons (30 gm/1 oz) frozen grated butter (or a combination of lard and butter)
approximately ½ cup (120 ml) cold milk
optional 1 tablespoon milk, for glazing the tops of the scones

1. Preheat oven to very hot 475°F/240°C/gas mark 9.
2. Triple sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. (If your room temperature is very hot refrigerate the sifted ingredients until cold.)
3. Rub the frozen grated butter (or combination of fats) into the dry ingredients until it resembles very coarse bread crumbs with some pea-sized pieces if you want flaky scones or until it resembles coarse beach sand if you want tender scones.
4. Add nearly all of the liquid at once into the rubbed-in flour/fat mixture and mix until it just forms a sticky dough (add the remaining liquid if needed). The wetter the dough the lighter the scones (biscuits) will be!
5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, lightly flour the top of the dough. To achieve an even homogeneous crumb to your scones knead very gently about 4 or 5 times (do not press too firmly) the dough until it is smooth. To achieve a layered effect in your scones knead very gently once (do not press too firmly) then fold and turn the kneaded dough about 3 or 4 times until the dough has formed a smooth texture. (Use a floured plastic scraper to help you knead and/or fold and turn the dough if you wish.)
6. Pat or roll out the dough into a 6 inch by 4 inch rectangle by about ¾ inch thick (15¼ cm by 10 cm by 2 cm thick). Using a well-floured 2-inch (5 cm) scone cutter (biscuit cutter), stamp out without twisting six 2-inch (5 cm) rounds, gently reform the scraps into another ¾ inch (2 cm) layer and cut two more scones (these two scones will not raise as well as the others since the extra handling will slightly toughen the dough). Or use a well-floured sharp knife to form squares or wedges as you desire.
7. Place the rounds just touching on a baking dish if you wish to have soft-sided scones or place the rounds spaced widely apart on the baking dish if you wish to have crisp-sided scones. Glaze the tops with milk if you want a golden colour on your scones or lightly flour if you want a more traditional look to your scones.
8. Bake in the preheated very hot oven for about 10 minutes (check at 8 minutes since home ovens at these high temperatures are very unreliable) until the scones are well risen and are lightly coloured on the tops. The scones are ready when the sides are set.
9. Immediately place onto cooling rack to stop the cooking process, serve while still warm.
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