So what is a full afternoon tea without scones? And good ones at that – decent size to really get stuck into, fluffy, and tall enough to be able to split and slather with jam or curd and clotted cream?
There are as many recipes for scones out there as there are preferences, no doubt. I like this one because it’s a little less sweet than the typical American scone, and can easily be adapted to your favorite flavors. It has become my go-to recipe not only because they are absolutely light, fluffy and delicious, but because the recipe works for me every time.
This recipe has been adapted from the “British-style scones” from America’s Test Kitchen (which, by the way, I highly recommend an online subscription to; you know that if ATK has tested a recipe, it is well and truly tested and will work!).
The original recipe calls for use of a food processor, but I’m a bit of an old-fashioned baker – I take every advantage of mixing by hand so I don’t have to pull out my mixer or processor. So whether you like your electronics or don’t mind a little elbow grease, you can get a good result.
It takes hardly any time or effort at all to work the butter into the dry ingredients with the pastry dough cutter, and the dough comes together very quickly. I like Kerry Gold butter – rich and buttery; and have gotten to using extra-fine sugar more and more in my cakes vs regular granulated sugar.
Once the ingredients come together, the kneading brings it all together, though the dough will still be very wet. Because the dough is pretty wet, I don’t stint on sprinkling some flour on the work surface and on top of the dough before starting to knead; it doesn’t add too much additional flour to the dough.
Once the dough is ready, try and work it as little as possible. I roll it out twice to get 14 or so scones. There’s usually room for a couple more (so 16 total), though by the time I’m rolling it out the third time, it’s starting to get well worked.
I use the pastry cutters from National Trust (I can’t help it, I’m a baking geek – I just love the tin they come in). I go straight down with the cutter, and try not to twist as I get the scone off the worksurface so that it can rise up more evenly when it bakes.
When you take them out of the oven and break one open, you can get that wonderful, subtle aroma of cardamom. That, along with the vanilla, add a nice flavor to the bite.
They are best when eaten the same day – they still taste great a day or two later, but you lose the nice crustiness on the outside, and the sparkling sugar loses its crunch.
Finish off with your favorite toppings – mine are clotted cream and my homemade blueberry jam, just to take the blueberry flavor completely over the top!
Blueberry Cardamom Scones
- 3 c. all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp. baking powder
- 1/3 c. extra-fine (caster) or granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
- 1 stick (8 Tbsp.) softened butter
- 3/4 c. dried blueberries
- 2 eggs
- 1 c. milk
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- Coarse sparkling sugar to sprinkle on top before baking (I’ve used India Tree or Wilton)
DirectionsWhisk the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and cardamom together in a bowl. Cut in the softened butter with a pastry cutter until there are no clumps of butter. Stir in the dried blueberries.
Whisk together the eggs, milk and vanilla and add it to the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Hold back a little of the egg mixture (tablespoon or so) to brush over the scones before putting them in the oven.
Knead the wet dough ~25 times, using flour on the worksurface.
Roll out to a circle, ~1 inch thick. Use a 2 1/2 inch round cutter to cut out the scones, applying flour to keep it from sticking to the dough each time. Put on a baking sheet (I use parchment paper on the sheet).
Roll out the remnants until you have used up the rest of the dough (twice is best, you will have about 16 total).
Brush with the egg mixture and sprinkle liberally with the sparkling sugar.
Preheat the oven to 500 Fahrenheit, but turn it down to 425 Fahrenheit before you put them in to bake. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden on top and bottom. With my oven, I turn the sheets around after 6 minutes for more even browning.