Ask Peter: A good, moist and buttery scone
We’ve dined at your restaurants, adore your fusion cuisine and your column in Bite. Thanks for sharing your fantastic cheese scone recipe. I had been despairing for some time that I was never going to bake a great scone. I’ve tried so many recipes and failed. I love to bake and cook, so I knew it wasn’t me. I even threw out my baking powder and refreshed with a new pack, thinking it had somehow been at fault. But then, simply wow, these were fantastic. Would you please share a plain scone recipe too? My late mum used to bake fantastic scones, but I have always turned out bricks. Susan
Hello Susan and thanks for the feedback. I’m glad I’ve been able to help get good scones into your baking tins! They are the simplest of things to make but also they’re incredibly frustrating when they don’t work out and I think often it’s just a matter of too little baking powder, and a mixture that’s too dry — scones need to be a little damp to succeed. As to making a successful scone that’s cheese-less, all you need to consider is making them with extra butter to offset the lack of cheese. All dairy components add fat and it’s this that keeps the finished scones moist for longer. As you can imagine, a scone without any fat will be dry, and will quickly become stale. It will toast okay, but even so, a scone with fat in it toasts much more nicely. So although one might think to make a plain scone you simply remove the cheese, you’ll end up with an inferior scone. Also, if you did simply remove the cheese, your mixture would have 110g less weight and would make smaller scones, or fewer of them. So you need to add more butter and more flour to get the weight back to close what it was. On top of this you need to add extra baking powder to make up for the extra flour now added, and because of the extra flour, you’ll need to add some more buttermilk so it’s not too dry. Another thing to consider is replacing some of the plain flour with wholemeal or some other flour — which can add character to your scones. Different flours behave differently as they can be more moisture-absorbing than others or have less gluten (the protein which gives body and strength to baked goods) as well as the obvious flavour and colour changes.
Looking at my recent cheese scone recipe ingredients, they were:
- 60g butter, straight from the fridge, diced
- 270g flour, plus extra to dust
- 1 ½ Tbsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper (or ½ tsp smoked paprika)
- 2 tsp caster sugar ⅛ tsp fine salt
- 210g buttermilk, plus extra for glazing (or use 180g plain yoghurt and 30g full fat milk)
- 50g mature cheddar, diced (or try diced feta)
- 30g mature cheddar, coarsely grated
- 30g parmesan, grated
To make a good moist and buttery scone, here’s a recipe that should keep you happy:
140g butter, straight from the fridge, diced
300g flour, plus extra to dust
2 Tbsp baking powder
2 tsp caster sugar
1⁄8 tsp fine salt
230g buttermilk, plus extra for glazing (or use 180g plain yoghurt and 30g full fat milk)
- Heat oven to 210C/190C fan. 2 Blitz the butter, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a food processor for 10 -15 seconds to produce coarse crumbs.
- Pour the buttermilk into a mixing bowl, add the flour mixture and gently mix with a metal knife or spoon until the mixture just comes together — don’t overwork it.
- On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough until it’s 21⁄2 cm thick. Cut out the scones, starting from the outside of the dough. Lay them a few cm apart on a parchment-lined baking tray. Glaze with the extra buttermilk.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden on top.
- Take from the oven, leave to cool for 90 seconds or so then transfer to a cake rack. This prevents them getting a soggy bottom.