There’s just no describing how devilishly good these scones are. They’re buttery, flaky, crumbly and just superbly scrumptious when generously slathered with jam (raspberry is seriously the best flavour for scones, in my humble opinion) and dolloped with clotted cream.
I’ve used this recipe a few times over, and honestly, it’s absolutely the best by far, which really shouldn’t surprise me as it’s yet another no-fail, winning recipe by Bea Vo of the famed English tea house, Bea’s of Bloomsbury (London). What does surprise me, however, is just how incredibly easy this is!
I’ve learnt along the way that it doesn’t really matter what ingredients a particular scone recipe calls for, but the method or technique is crucial. Get the method right, and you’ll get the most wondrous scones! The key to that perfect buttery, flaky and crumbly scone (the way scones really ought to be!) is to control the interaction between butter, flour and temperature. All that really means for us home bakers, is to make sure that we work with cold ingredients when putting this dough together, and keeping it cool throughout the steps until it’s ready to be cut into individual scones for baking.
Here’s the thing about the interplay between butter, flour and temperature, which I think was explained so clearly by Bea Vo in her book. This is the part where we get to learn a teeny weeny bit of the science behind baking, without feeling like we’re in a science class! Butter is made primarily of fat and water (of course, that’s why it’s so yummy!). What we want is for butter to stay in a nice, cold form so that the fat doesn’t melt and release water prematurely before it hits the oven. If the butter melts, it’s water molecules will start to interact with flour molecules to make gluten, which will toughen the texture of the scone.
Gluten is a mixture of proteins that is responsible for the elasticity of dough. When making bread, you’ll want this to happen, but not when it comes to scones. So it’s absolutely critical that you do not knead the dough! Just cut the cold wet ingredients into the cold butter-flour mixture, with a pastry blade or fold in with a wooden spoon – no stirring. Also, you’ll want the butter to keep as cold as possible before it goes into a hot preheated oven – this way, instead of the butter melting into the flour, it instantly makes steam, which results in a light, puffy, flaky scone. Remember, a hot, hot oven is key, as we want that water-to-steam conversion right away!