I remember one of the first times I ever made scones. It was only a few days after my daughter was born and somehow I got it into my head to bake scones to serve our friends who were visiting. But a combination of lack of sleep and baby brain meant the scones were a total flop. I left out one of the main ingredients – I forget which – and the poor scones had to be thrown away. Needless to say this baking disaster pushed me over the edge and I collapsed into tears (hormones may have had a lot to do with it too). My husband made the scones himself to cheer me up and he has been doing most of the scone baking ever since.
Baby brain aside, scones are actually really easy to make but, somehow, equally easy to get wrong. Lopsidedness is a main concern that may be aesthetically displeasing but doesn’t affect the taste. It’s much worse to have the picture-perfect scone that is actually rock hard. The way to avoid that, is to handle to dough as little as possible. By using a really light touch you are guaranteed scones that are heavenly soft, delicious and guaranteed to disappear almost instantly.
I used mascarpone cheese instead of butter in this recipe and it worked an absolute treat – these were the best scones I have ever made. I kept the flavouring very simple – lemon zest, a drop of lemon oil and a small amount of very finely diced candied lemon peel. I served them with my freshly made jam and it truly was the perfect treat for afternoon tea (without any of the formality or ceremony). These scones are egg-free by the way… since my neighbour’s son has a severe allergy, I am always looking for bakes that he can eat – especially seeing as he is so totally adorable when given treats.
225g | 8oz self-raising flour + more for dusting
50g | 1.7oz caster sugar
2 tbsp lemon or mixed peel, very finely diced (optional)
1/4 tsp salt
zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
125-150ml | 4-5fl oz whole milk
50g | 1.7oz mascarpone
a couple drops lemon oil
a little milk or cream to glaze (or a little beaten egg)
2 tbsp granulated sugar to sprinkle
2. Sift the flour into a large bowl and stir in the sugar, lemon peel if using, lemon zest and salt.
3. Mix the milk, mascarpone, lemon juice, lemon oil in a measuring jug.
4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, a little at a time, and stir together until you have a shaggy, sticky dough. You might not need to use all the liquids or you might need a touch more.
5. Dust your worktop if a little flour and tip your dough onto it. Knead very gently until the dough holds together. Pat it into a rectangle about 4cm (1 1/2in) high.
6. Dip a 6cm (2.3in) cutter into flour and then stamp out the scones using a straight downward motion (to help them rise evenly). Place them on the prepared baking sheet, spaced slightly apart.
7. Gather the dough scraps, pat into shape and repeat until you have used all of the dough.
8. Brush the top of the scones with a little cream, milk or beaten egg, and sprinkle with the granulated sugar.
9. Bake for around 15 minutes or until they are risen and golden. Transfer to a cooling rack and cover with a slightly damp tea towel for 10 minutes.
10. Split open and serve with clotted cream and jam.
Notes: you can use plain (all purpose) flour instead of self-raising, adding 1 1/2 tsp baking powder.