Recipe: Really easy no-measuring-needed scones
These scones were made by a first-time scone baker...
Sweet, savoury, plain, flavoured, vegan... scones are so versatile and incredibly easy to make once you've got the hang of them. Plus, at 15 minutes from nothing to serving up, they're a really quick option for what looks like a luxury- especially if you have visitors (lockdown permitting...).
I've been asked quite a few times how to make scones as they're something that often go wrong for people but which appear pretty regularly here- basically whenever I forget we're running out of bread so need something bread-like urgently at a mealtime.
They're especially useful at this time of year as all the soft fruits are starting to ripen, and there's nothing quite like fresh scones with a fresh fruit compote and cream...
There are a few basic principles for scone making, but the main one is
DON'T TRUST THE RECIPE!
The trick with scones is just to get the texture of the dough right. Too stiff and you get rock cakes- too soft and they end up flat as they cook. The problem with using a recipe is that no two batches of flour are quite the same- so you will always, always need to alter the liquid quantities to make the texture work.
At which point, there's not a lot of point in having a recipe with strict quantities in it at all!
I make scones by starting with a heap of flour in a bowl that "looks kind of about right." - I usually reckon a hand-high mound in a big mixing bowl makes enough scones for about 10-12 people. This is not a terribly helpful instruction- so I'll be a bit more specific below. Here we go:
1/4 to 1/2 cup self raising flour per scone, depending how big you want the scones to be. You can use baking powder and plain flour if you want but self raising usually works out cheaper (it's generally the same price as plain and you don't have to buy the baking powder too).
A big tablespoonful of butter or margarine
Milk or plant milk (if you run out, you can use some water, too)
That's it. You can add sugar, an egg, raisins, cheese, herbs and spices, nuts... whatever you like, really, but plain scones only need 3 ingredients.
You will also need
A greased baking tray or two (depending how many scones you're making)
A big mixing bowl
An oven, preheated to 200 degrees C
Rub the margarine or butter into the flour.
Add enough milk to make a reasonably stiff dough that holds its shape, mixing with your hands.
If you think the dough has become too squishy, add a bit more flour until you're happy. It should be reasonably un-sticky- you should be able to rub your fingers clean easily.
Break off balls of dough about the size you want the scones to be, roll them into a shape you like and place on the baking tray. If they look like they're getting flatter, go back to step 3.
Bake for about 12 minutes (baking time depends how big you've made the scones- if they're huge you may need to turn the oven down and cook for longer to avoid burning the outsides- if they're tiny they will take less time to cook).
Scones don't really rise. This usually surprises people. When cooked, they will still be about the same size that they started off (see point 4). If you make them flat, they will stay flat. If you make them small, they will stay small. They don't work at all like sponge cake, or muffins, which is a bit disconcerting the first time you make them!
I usually like to make plain scones because they can be served with anything at all: They're lovely dipped into soups, used instead of bread for sandwiches or, of course, topped with jam and clotted cream. For a treat, nut, chocolate and raisin scones always go down very well- and herby cheesy scones with a casserole are lovely too.
You can use a rolling pin and pastry cutters to make traditional shaped scones- but it's a lot easier just to make balls, and I think they look nicer, too.
Like a lot of the other recipes we're putting on this blog, scones are a great option for experimenting- they're really versatile, so enjoy trying things out with them!