the best - basic sweet scones

It's hard to find a simple, basic scone these days. It seems most are filled with some combination of berries and chocolate or topped with a zig-zag of icing. Personally, my favorite scone is a plain one topped with clotted cream and a touch of raspberry jam. Scones are what as referred to as a quick bread meaning that they don't need to rise or be kneaded like traditional bread. In fact, over mixing is probably the worst thing you can do to a scone (or muffin for that matter). Once you've made these a few time and got the technique down, you won't find them any harder to make than a batch of pancakes or waffles on a weekend morning.

The recipe I tend to use comes from Martha Stewart who in turn got the recipe from Petersham's Nursery in Richmond, Surrey. It has only seven ingredients: flour, salt, baking powder, sugar, butter, eggs and milk. The technique is simple and requires adding the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and then kneading the dough gently into a round shape before cutting the scones to size.

Sweet White Scones as adapted by Martha Stewart courtesy of Petersham's Nursery

Ingredients

  • 6 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
  • 1 heaping tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons milk
  • Granulated sugar, for sprinkling

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, superfine sugar, and baking powder. Make a well in the center and add butter. Using your fingers, work butter into flour mixture until a crumbly mixture is formed.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together 3 eggs and milk. Add milk mixture to flour mixture and stir to combine.
  4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead lightly and shape into a round. Roll dough out until it is 1 inch thick. Using a 3-inch biscuit cutter, cut out scones and transfer to prepared baking sheets.
  5. In a small bowl, beat remaining egg and brush the top of each scone; sprinkle each with granulated sugar. Transfer baking sheets to oven and bake until golden brown and cooked through, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer scones to a wire rack and let cool slightly before serving.

I find the dough comes together fairly easy for this recipe and is beautiful to work with. If you don't have a 3 inch biscuit cutter you can use a glass or mug with a similar dimension and use that to cut out your scones. Of course, if you like adding extra ingredients to your scone this is a great recipe to modify.

The best way to eat scones if hot out of the oven slathered with some butter or English clotted cream if you can find some and then finished off with some homemade raspberry jam. Add a cup of tea and you have a perfect morning breakfast or afternoon tea.

Do you have a favorite way to eat scones? Are they something you find yourself whipping up every once in awhile?