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English Scones

February 7, 2012
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During my visit to England last month, I very quickly got addicted to my daily scone with clotted cream, jam, and tea.  Naturally, I was very curious about the baking products available in Britain, and I was just dying to try my hand at British baking.  Since my host had been tinkering with his scone recipe for a while, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to use my newfound culinary knowledge to experiment!

We were aiming for a crumbly bread-like scone rather than a fluffy cream scone; we also wanted a lot of height and a nice crust.  We only had time for one experiment and didn’t quite get what we were looking for, so I won’t share the recipe just yet.

However, I can fill you in on a couple of secrets.  First of all, self-rising flour is silly.  If you use self-rising flour, you lose control over the leavening of your product; so the first change we made to the scones was to replace the self-rising flour with bread flour, and we put in lots of baking powder to make them nice and tall.  (Baking powder leavens upwards; baking soda leavens outwards.)  See the difference pre- and post-baking?

I suggested kneading the scones a little bit, which was definitely not a good idea.  That resulted in scones that were a bit gummy, so I think next time I’ll stick to the traditional scone method: cold butter and minimal mixing to get nice, flaky layers.  For future experiments, we also decided to try a slightly higher temperature and a preheated baking sheet to try to get a nice, brown crust.  If that doesn’t work, a milk or egg wash might be next.

The final lesson?  Even if your scones are a little gummy, it’s nothing a little clotted cream and jam won’t fix.  Warm from the oven, these little guys make breakfast fit for a queen!  I’ve really been hankering for some of that clotted cream… thankfully, California is one of those places where you can get unpasteurized milk with relative ease.  I have plans to make my own clotted cream soon, and I’ll be sure to share it with you when I do.  Till then, happy eating!

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