I can’t believe that it’s taken me 39 years (nearly 40 – but let’s not go into details, eek) to eat (never mind bake) my first scone! It was well worth the wait, however, as they were delicious 🙂 Last weekend I decided to bake Mary Berry’s Devonshire Scones; you can find the recipe on page 123 of her book 100 Cakes and Bakes. Will (my hubby) loves scones, so I thought I would give them a go.
Making the Scones
Step 1: Gather the ingredients
First of all, I gathered together all of the ingredients to make the scones:
- 450 g self-raising flour
- 2 rounded tsp baking powder
- 75 g butter (room temperature)
- 50 g caster sugar
- 2 large eggs
- Approximately 225 ml milk
Equipment-wise, you need two baking sheets. Mary Berry says that this recipe makes 8 – 10 large (9 cm) scones or 20 smaller ones. I was able to make 17 from my batch and they were about 5 to 5.5 cm in width, so I guess mine turned out to be on the smaller side. I used the cutter size recommended in the recipe, so they couldn’t really have turned out to be any other size anyway!
Step 2: Make the dough
Put the flour and baking powder into a bowl and add the butter.
Then, get your glamorous assistant to rub the flour, baking powder and butter together to make fine breadcrumbs 🙂 I have an old repetitive strain injury that flares up every now and then, so today I asked Will to help me out with this task:
Next, stir in the sugar (I could do this bit 🙂 )
Now, beat the eggs together and add milk to make the mixture up to a good 300 ml.
I then set aside approximately two tablespoons of the mixture in a bowl ready for glazing the scones later on.
Next, gradually add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients to make a soft dough. The recipe said to stir the egg mixture in, so I started off doing this with a wooden spoon:
Stirring like this was okay up to a point, but it didn’t seem to be working that well in terms of forming a nice ball.
So, due to my injury, I got my glamorous assistant Will to take over and use his fingers to form the dough 🙂
According to Mary Berry, it is better for the dough to be ‘on the wet side, sticking to your fingers’, as apparently this helps the scones to rise better. We paid close attention to the texture of our dough, and as you can see below, it ended up quite satisfyingly sticky. As we thought our dough was sticky enough, we didn’t need to use all of the egg and milk mixture (I think we left about 75 ml).
Step 3: Cut out scones
Next, I floured the surface in preparation for flattening the dough. The recipe says to ‘lightly flour’ the surface – I wonder what that means exactly? I tend to be quite generous in my sprinkling, but I have no idea what’s right! You can either flatten the dough with your hand or a rolling pin; I chose the latter.
The dough should be a thickness of 1 – 2 cm. I used a ruler to help me measure this and my dough ended up being about 1 3/4 cm. I found it quite hard to roll the dough out to a consistent thickness, but I guess that comes with practice.
Using a 5cm fluted cutter (as recommended in the recipe), I started to cut out the scones. To do this, you need to push the cutter straight down into the dough (do not twist it) and then lift it straight out. Apparently this helps to make sure the scones rise evenly and keep their shape.
Initially it was quite a satisfying task cutting the scones out, as the elastic dough was nice to handle. I found that some scones lifted straight out in the cutter, whereas some didn’t; but this wasn’t a problem at all.
After punching out the scones, you then need to gently push the rest of the dough together, knead it very lightly and repeat the process by re-rolling and punching out more scones. I have to say, the more rolling you do, the harder it is for the dough to stay together. It becomes increasingly cracked and starts to fall apart.
I managed to roll out my dough five times. The first roll I got ten scones, the second roll four scones and the third, fourth and fifth rolls I got one scone each time. With each roll, the texture of the scones deteriorated becoming more and more cracked. You can see below how bad my final scone looked, but I decided to bake it anyway to see what would happen 🙂
Step 4: Turn on the oven
I turned on the fan oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Step 5: Prepare the baking sheets
Next, I lightly greased two baking sheets with butter.
Step 6: Arrange scones on baking sheets and glaze
In total, I had prepared 17 scones, so I decided to place the best ones (the first eight I cut out) on one tray, and the rest on the other tray. You can see the mutant scone in the middle of the tray on the right!
Next, I glazed the tops of the scones with the beaten egg mixture that I had put aside earlier:
Step 7: Bake scones
The recipe said to bake the scones for 10 – 15 minutes ‘until well risen and golden’. Since the recipe didn’t say to bake the two sheets separately, I decided to take a risk and put both trays in the oven at the same time. I put the cracked and uglier batch at the top (as I figured they would be most likely to burn haha) and the nicer-looking batch at the bottom. Putting both trays in at the same time was not a good idea. As I peered into the oven through the glass, I could see that the batch on the top tray were baking a lot faster than the bottom batch. If I’d have trusted my instincts, I would have taken the top tray out sooner, but as it was, I took them out after 10 minutes and they were, let’s say, a little burnt on top:
I took the bottom batch out after 13 minutes and I was quite pleased with them:
I left both batches to cool on a wire tray, and then covered them with a clean tea towel to keep them moist.
I don’t know why I’m featuring this monstrosity, but here’s a picture of a mutant scone! I don’t know if this was the same scone as the really cracked one I pointed out earlier in my blog post, but in any case, it was definitely a little odd looking! The rest had risen fairly equally, I’m happy to say 🙂
Preparing the Toppings
So, with the scones baked, I then turned to the toppings. I used:
- Raspberry jam
- Pouring double cream (whipped)
Step 1: Whip the cream
I used our electric hand mixer to whip the cream:
Step 2: Top the scones
With the toppings ready, now all there was to be done was to cut the scones in half and top them with the jam and cream! As usual, Will was hovering waiting to devour them, so at this point (for the sake of our waists), I put some aside to be frozen. Here’s one of the scones cut open:
Next, I topped one half of the scone with raspberry jam, and one with cream:
As I love to take pictures, here are some more shots of the scones:
These scones were really delicious. Not ever having had a scone before, I think I am converted! Whilst my pictures show the scones topped with either jam or cream, we actually ate them with both jam and cream together. The batch that had been in the top portion of the oven were slightly burnt on top, but to be honest, they still tasted yummy.
Next time I would like to make the dough myself, without needing to use my glamorous assistant Will! I missed not being able to feel the elastic texture of the dough as it was forming, as it was unlike any dough either Will or I had made before. Hopefully next time my repetitive strain injury will have calmed down. I would also definitely bake the two batches one after the other to avoid getting scones with burnt tops. They all rose slightly differently too – again, I guess this could be due to their position in the oven.
As ever, I always have some questions, such as, is it okay to mix a dough together solely by stirring it with a spoon or is it better to just use your hands from the outset? What does a ‘lightly floured surface’ look like, exactly? Should you always avoid baking with two trays in the oven at the same time? And if so, is it best to always put the tray on the middle shelf? Can you open an oven mid-way through, or does this affect the rising process?
Well, now I have to decide what to bake next weekend. Watch this space! I’ve been watching Series 8 of The Great British Bake Off, and they have been baking some really intriguing things. Pastéis de nata, cannoli and sfogliatelle to name a few. What are you baking next?