Buttermilk Scones

Kirstie Allsop hosts a TV show called in ‘Made in Britain‘. It is basically an outlet for over-achievement. She tries her hand, guided by experts, at all kinds of craft and baking and enters the results in small town fairs, where she usually wins some kind of prize amongst people who have been plugging away for years. It sounds like I don’t like her or the show much, but I do. I really like her, she isn’t afraid to reveal her competitive streak, which I understand all too well. My family call it the ‘Monica gene’ (from Friends) and unfortunately we all suffer from it. Board games in my family never went down very well.

So I was watching one episode where she was making scones. I heard the chef who was helping her, mention an ingredient that he uses to hold the mixture together and achieve that spongy texture. My ears pricked up at that because I had always thought my scones were rather crumbly, but as usual I missed what he said – probably because AT was talking. Mum’s always said my scones remind her of her mother’s scones. Probably because I use the Edmonds Cookery book recipe, which is a New Zealand publication and she grew up in New Zealand.

After the show I Googled like mad and found the recipe from the show that chef Richard Hunt uses at his restaurant in Torquay. The secret ingredient was milk powder. He also uses buttermilk, which I found made slightly sour scones. But his recipe did indeed produce a less crumbly result. I have included his method here, but I made it the way I always do (which is whiz together flour, salt and baking powder to mix, then add butter till I get ‘fine breadcrumb texture’. Then I transfer to bowl and cut in the liquid with a knife till just combined) and got good results. I even tried cutting the scones out this time, as they do here in England. I usually leave the dough in a heap on a tray, and cut the dough with a big knife, creating rough scone shapes. But these round ones looked neat and tidy. It is a good recipe, I would recommend it. But there is something I like about my old scones. I like their odd shape and bumpy texture. As long they’re light and fluffy, they’re good scones in my book. They really just provide an opportunity to scarf inappropriately enormous lashings of jam and cream. I’m sure we all agree on that point.

Richard Hunt’s Scone Recipe

500g plain flour
65g caster sugar
½ tsp salt
60g butter
30g baking powder
65g milk powder
250ml buttermilk
Oven 190C

In a bowl put the flour, sugar, salt, butter, baking powder and milk powder and rub it together with your fingertips until it turns cream coloured and slightly crumbly. The odd fleck of butter is not a bad thing.

Add the buttermilk then stir this into the flour. Bring together into a firm ball of dough, and knead lightly for 10-15 seconds – no more or the dough will be tough.

Flour the surface again and the top of the dough and roll to 4cm thick. Cut into rounds using an 8cm round cutter. A quick downward cut will give you the best rise in the oven.

Place on a parchment lined tray a few centimetres apart and bake for 15-20 minutes until risen and lightly coloured.