Maybe you gave in to the Pandemic Pastime for baking. Maybe you have not had time because you are an essential worker. So here’s and easy bake you might try.
Scones are, to me, just sweet biscuits (the American kind, not the British cookie). In fact, the ingredients and method are identical. Scones can be versatile, posing as sweet or savory. They can be light or brick-like. They can be easy or hard.
Scones have enjoyed increasing popularity in the U. S. because of their not-too-sweet character. This Scottish quick bread is particularly popular in the English-speaking world’s afternoon snack, cream tea.
The Oxford English Dictionary puts the first appearance of scone in the early 1500s, believing that the word derives from the Dutch term for “pure bread.” The earliest versions were round and flat, usually the size of a medium size plate. It was made with unleavened oats and baked on a griddle (or girdle, in Scots), then cut into triangle-like quadrants for serving. Today, many would call the large round cake a bannock, and call the quadrants scones.
In the recipe below, vegetable shortening is used instead of butter because it’s easier to work with and a little less fattening. But like really good biscuits, using cold butter gives a lighter, flakier texture. Still, these turn out well and they are a lot easier. Cutting cold butter into the dry ingredients can be time consuming and exhausting.
This makes about 10-12 scones.
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 7 tablespoons shortening or butter
- 3/4 cup cream or half & half
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon water
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Combine flour, baking powder sugar and salt in a large bowl. Work shortening or butter into flour mixture until the fat makes small lumps.
- In a medium bowl, beat one of the eggs and combine with cream. Stir wet ingredients into the dry and mix well. Mix in raisins and cinnamon. A very wet dough will form, almost batter-like.
- Coat your hands in flour. On a floured surface, roll out dough to about 1/2-inch thickness and cut into circles or triangles. Lay out scones on cookie sheet covered with parchment paper, leaving at least 1/2 inch between each scone.
- In a small bowl, beat remaining egg thoroughly and mix in water. Use a pastry brush to coat tops of scones with the egg wash. Bake for 20 minutes.
Once you have this basic recipe down, you can easily modify it for other kinds of fruit or spices. If using fresh or frozen fruit instead of dried, reduce the cream by 1/4 cup. These are good as a snack or for breakfast instead of a muffin. They can be reheated by wrapping in a paper towel and microwaving on high for 15 seconds. They go great with some butter and preserves.
Real men can and do bake. One batch, stored in a sealed plastic bag, should last about a week.