The plain scone is our staple product, you can’t have ‘The Tea & Scone Co.’ in your title and not have homemade Scones.
Jack & Hilda’s Basic Plain Scone Recipe
Our scones are, like traditional (modern) scones, crunchy on the outside whilst retaining the fluffiness on the inside. The basic plain scone recipe did change slightly from the home oven to the commercial oven.
Vastly different pieces of equipment and I’ll cover a little story in a later blog so watch out for that. For now, I’m going to share the recipe and method of making just 2 scones that are best for kids to learn.
There is a huge amount of scone recipes out there to choose from, and I’m not saying these will be the perfect ones for your own taste, of course, you will have to try, see if you like it, and as always give feedback or any variations you’ve made to help others.
Rest assured, we will be touching on some of the others later down the track, but for now I’m going to share with you the recipe we used in the shop, along with some tips and tricks we learnt along the way.
A Brief History of the ‘Modern’ Basic Plain Scone
Firstly, we have to start at the beginning….
The origins of the modern scone.
The Humble and Traditional plain scone, as we know it, isn’t really that old. It was only in the 19th century when baking powder was first invented by Alfred Bird in 1843 (English), a precursor to self-rising flour which came in 1845 by Henry Jones.
This addition to cooking meant that ‘bread’ could be made light and fluffy but without the use of Yeast (and hence no yeast after taste), which is required for bread to rise.
Since the invention of baking powder, scones have been cooked in ovens and are the more commonly found description of a scone, Round and risen.
Before this, the Scone was most commonly cooked on a griddle, was as large as a plate and cut more like a pizza into triangles. First notes in history refer to a flatbread cooked on a girdle (or girdle) in, believe it or not, Scotland! Not even English. Although the baking powder is English so we have a claim to the ‘modern’ scone!
The Perfect Basic Plain Scone
What constitutes the perfect scone?
Some people would disagree, and to be honest, everybody is right, and everybody is also wrong. There is no one ‘perfect’ scone (except ours of course). It all comes down to personal preference and what popped your scone cherry. Same as every family has their own bolognese recipe and if you’ve grown up with that one, all others are inferior. Humans are a funny bunch.
However (yes there is a however)…
Most guidelines for scone competitions would have to pass strict criteria of aesthetics, texture and taste. Something we judged ourselves when testing (extensively) our menu.
The main points to consider when judging a scone are
- Size – usually a guideline for each competition
- Rise – have they risen sufficiently
- Sides – are the sides straight
- Crust – is the crust a golden brown (..‘texture like sun’, we all sang it)
- Clean – How clean is the scone, has the baker left flour on the base or visible on the crust.
- Crumble – How crumby is the scone
- Crust – How thick is the crust
- Crunch – How crunchy is the crust
- Dryness – How heavy is the scone, wet/dry
- Sweetness – How well sweetened is the scone. Differs from the type of course
- Aftertaste – Scones should have a pleasant aftertaste, not a chemically one (too much baking powder for example)
- Mouthfeel – Scones should still be slightly crumbly in the mouth but not dry
If you’d like some free downloadable resources like conversion charts and scoring guidelines check these out
So, now we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive in a get to making some simple basic scones.
Equipment needed for baking scones
- Scone Cutter – First up you’ll need to get yourself a cutter we recommend getting a set so that you can play around with sizes, we have them in stock here, the cutter needs to be sharp to achieve the best-looking sides and stop the scone from tilting over.
- Oven Thermometer – This, by far, is one of the most important things to get. It will revolutionise your baking, never trust an oven temp is all I can say.
- Oven – Of course,
- Set of Scales – We recommend digital but always have a ‘known weight’ to test calibration.
- Electric Mixer – Not a requirement, but does make it easier if producing quantities. (Some people will chastise me for this)
- Other tools – Sieve, Cake Spatula, Measuring Cups, brush, Butter Knife, Mixing Bowl, chopping board Baking Tray and ingredient bowls.
Basic Plain Scone Recipe
Making 2 with 2 1/2′ cutter
Yes, only 2 scones. The reason for this is I’m sharing with you a testing recipe. Practice if you will. there is no reason to go making a big batch with kids to have them end up in the bin because you didn’t have experience or the oven cooks slightly differently.
Once you have the touch and are happy, simply multiple the quantities.
This recipe took me all of 30 minutes from measuring ingredients to eating them with jam and cream.
115g – Self-Rising Flour
½ tsp – Baking Powder
15g – Castor Sugar
29g – Cold Butter cubed into 1cm blocks (roughly no need to measure)
55ml – Full Fat Milk at room temperature
Extra flour for surface and cutter
Milk to glaze (optional)
- Pre-heat oven to 190°C fan assisted, shelf on second from top
- Cover Baking tray with baking paper
- Measure out all ingredients – Put the butter back in the fridge and leave the milk out
- Sieve the flour, baking powder and sugar into a mixing bowl
- Add in the butter chunks to the flour and break up with fingers until it forms the consistency of breadcrumbs
- Transfer to the Mixer if not using that bowl already
- Add milk to the centre of the mixture
- Now, here’s where it can differ. We, for consistency, used a Breville electric mixer with a metal beater attachment. The first level for 40 seconds.
If you don’t have a mixer. Use a flat steel cake knife and fold until milk is absorbed and mixed well. This won’t take long and be careful not to overwork the dough as it won’t rise. Remember, practice makes perfect!
- Turn out onto a lightly floured board/table. At this stage, you need to form it with your fingers (I suggest using gloves) and shape the dough into 1 ½ inch height whilst smoothing out the cracks. Don’t knead the dough like a bread, just move it around and shape it into a long circle best for cutting.
- Next, it’s time to cut, the most critical part. Your cut needs to be positively and directly straight down. Any angle or wobble will mean your sides don’t rise well or unevenly. Lift up and place the scone gently on the baking tray. The sides should have visible layers.
- Leave to stand for 5 minutes for the baking powder to activate a little.
- Use a little milk and wash the top of the scones, not too much, just enough to give them a nice colour. Some people use an egg/milk mix but for this recipe, we will just use milk.
- Place in the oven for 14 minutes total, turning halfway at 7 minutes.
- Take out and place on a cooling rack.
- Leave to cool down for 1 second before they disappear with jam and cream!!
We hope you enjoy making this recipe and remember…Many external factors can influence the outcome so don’t be discouraged. All recipes are just a guideline. The main thing is to have fun and don’t be too serious.
Hints and Variations
Basic plain scone recipe
- Never trust an ovens temperature gauge. Invest in a secondary temp gauge and monitor inside the oven temp. far more consistent and accurate.
- The coldness of the butter and warmness of the milk will affect the outcome. And always use unsalted butter. Not margarine spread or salted butter.
- If your Scones come out too dry, try adding more butter (fat) to the mix, sometimes the slight difference in oven fan force can make all the difference. Something we found out from cooking in a home oven to a commercial oven.
- Once you’re comfortable, When increasing the recipe, multiply the ingredients but have a little extra flour and milk to hand to adjust the mix on the fly.