Scones bring to mind something akin to a slow-paced and leisurely ambling sunny afternoon with time for a visit to the local tea shop or maybe a hour or two on the porch with a friend who happens to like to bake. Perhaps there’s a can’t-put-it-down novel to read while you nibble and sip or a string quartet playing in the next room… (Sigh, sigh.)
Scones aren’t, alas, as popular hereas they are in the UK and Ireland or even in South Africa (and neither are slow-paced afternoons), but they are around and are the very best if they’re homemade, as is so often, but not always, the case. If you spot some in the grocery store, steer clear unless you just watched them come out of the hot oven and maybe even then. Lucky enough to have a good bakery nearby? Buy them when they’re fresh, made that day, and happily crumbly and crying aloud for sweet butter and jam.
You could definitely make them yourself. Read on!
Why is it scones seem so very familiar, yet are not quite what we’re used to?
American biscuits originated in the British Isles as scones, first mentioned in print in the 16th century. Traditional scones were never sweetened, said Elisabeth Luard, a director of the annual Oxford Symposium of Food and Cookery and the author of “The Old World Kitchen.” The proto-scone is believed to come from Scottish kitchens, where rounds of oat and barley dough were cooked on large griddles, then cut into wedges. They were a simple combination of fat, flour and liquid, which became softer and lighter as wheat, butter and leaveners like baking soda and baking powder became widely available.
In other words, if you can make biscuits, you can make scones. Or, conversely, if you can make scones, the addition of sugar and perhaps egg will give you biscuits! Can’t make either? This is your day; I’ll show you how along with a teensy bit of help from some stellar websites and videos. See section below recipe: NEED A LITTLE HELP?
below: rolled and cut scone dough before baking
By the way, scones are more of a quick bread than a sweet American muffin-like treat; the beauty is all in the light crispy-crumbly triangle piled high with clotted cream or butter and jam. They’re “sweet” treats more in the sense of the word than in the reality.
Pronunciation tidbit: In Scotland, scone is pronounced scawn, rhyming with dawn.
above: my Irish Fruit Scones Adapted for the American Kitchen — More Time at the Table’s version
Darina Allen’s Buttery Scrumptious Scones — the Irish version
I’m thinking (just thinking, mind you) about getting up early enough to watch Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding this Saturday morning:
So: 4AM ET–for the pregame shows on NBC or CBS– equals 2AM MST (I live in Colorado) and I’m wondering if I’ll really do that or if I’ll waffle and see the reruns as my granddaughter Piper (below) has a dance recital that day and it’ll be a bit of a long haul to get up at 2 and stay up for how many hours? Hmmm…..
Here’s what HARPER’S BAZAAR says, which has it in a nutshell:
The May 19 ceremony, set for St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, will commence at noon local time, and which means it’ll start at 7 a.m. ET for American watchers.
Well, that’d be 5 here for the real deal then…if I skip the red carpet. Do I care what the guests wear? Maybe.
above: yarn bombing in St. Paul, Minnesota at Fairview and St. Clair
The whole shebang is slated to last only about an hour, so if you’re late to the gate, you’ll have missed tons, right? But no worries, you can still see it afterward at the movies. I’m thinking a maybe, just maybe YES! to a girls’s morning out followed by a fish and chips lunch with a pint or two.
If you want to see the fascinators on the big screen, check showtimes at your local cinema. Nearly 200 U.S. theaters will show the royal wedding commercial-free on May 19 at 10 a.m. through a partnership between Fathom Events and BritBox, the subscription service from BBC Studios and ITV.
courtesy GOOD HOUSEKEEPING
What’s a fascinator? A fascinator is a woman’s light, decorative headpiece consisting of feathers, flowers, beads, etc., attached to a comb or hair clip.
If YOU DO want to get up at oh!dark-early, be sure and have your scone breakfast ready ahead of time. Set up your tray of tea cups, fill the kettle on the stove, and bake a tray of scones to see you through the entire morning. (Wrap them well; they’re only good for a day.) It’s no fun to eat scones alone, so make sure you get someone else up to join in the merriment. I know my husband Dave will happily sleep through the entire thing, so here’s my company should I really get up in the middle of a Rocky Mountain night:
Unlike the wedding guests, who have at least some dress code to follow, we can all stay in our favorite shabby-chic jammies cozied up on the couch with a lover, friend, relative, kitty, or pup, along with hot tea and scones served with plenty of soft butter and jam. Hat optional. Crumbs, along with licking buttery fingers, definitely allowed. Try this:
CHERRY-ALMOND BREAKFAST SCONES FOR A ROYAL WEDDING MORNING
makes 12 scones–do share
Serve with room temperature butter and cherry jam (I like Bonne Maman.) If you like a sweeter scone, add a glaze or drizzle with icing after the scones cool.
- 2 cups all purpose, unbleached flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided ( 1 1/2 tablespoons in the dough and 1/2 tablespoon sprinkled on top just before baking)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons cold salted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 large eggs (one for dough and one to glaze top of scones before baking)
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- scant 1/2 cup dried cherries ( 2 1/2 ounces), chopped
- 1/4 cup sliced, toasted almonds
PREHEAT THE OVEN to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and set rack at center.
CUT THE BUTTER INTO THE DRY INGREDIENTS: In a food processor or large bowl, mix the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, 1 1/2 tablespoons of the sugar, and salt) and cut in the cold butter either by pulsing– if using the machine– or with a pastry cutter or two knives until the mixture is the size of small peas.
ADD THE WET INGREDIENTS: Whisk together the milk, one of the eggs, and almond extract in a large measuring cup or small bowl and pour into the flour mixture all at once. Pulse or stir with a wooden spoon until dough just comes together.
KNEAD BRIEFLY, FORM INTO A BALL, THEN A DISC/CUT INTO 12 TRIANGLES: Tip dough out onto a floured board or counter and mix the cherries in with your hands. Form a ball and knead 10 times. Press dough ball out into a circle until about 1/2-inch thick. Whisk together the second egg along with a teaspoon of water and brush the top of the dough lightly with the egg mixture. (You’ll only use a bit of it; make a scrambled egg with the rest!) Add toasted almonds evenly on top and press them into the dough a bit. Sprinkle with reserved 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar. Cut dough into quarters and then each quarter into thirds for 12 scones. Place scones on an ungreased baking sheet with at least an inch between them.
BAKE 10 minutes, watching carefully, until light golden. Let cool briefly on rack before serving warm or at room temperature.
BAKER’S NOTE: I have not tried this, but want to! American baking guru Dorie Greenspan notes it’s fine to freeze scones on a sheet before baking and then to just add 2 minutes to the baking time so that you can make them ahead and serve them fresh come morning or when ever. (BAKING FROM MY HOME TO YOURS, by Dorie Greenspan) Let me know if you try this; I’d love to hear.
My scones are loosely based on a recipe by my one of my best baking mentors, Marion Cunningham, but are happily influenced by Scottish baking doyenne, Sue Lawrence and her recipe “Fruit Scones” from SCOTTISH BAKING where she gives “tips for producing the perfect scone.”
NEED A LITTLE HELP?
TUTORIAL: Video– HOW TO CUT BUTTER INTO FLOUR USING A FOOD PROCESS OR PASTRY CUTTER (Martha Stewart)
TUTORIAL: Video– HOW TO CUT BUTTER INTO FLOUR USING TWO SHARP KNIVES
TUTORIAL: Video — HOW TO MAKE SCONES BY HAND (BBC)
Interested in learning more about English Food? Try Jane Grigson, the Julia Child of England:
below: youngest daughter, Emily Suzanne, with me on Mother’s Day at church