Every baker worth their salt should have a good scone recipe and, by Jove!, I think I've found it.
For me, the perfect scone should be round and knobbly, light and fluffy, and never ever consumed unaccompanied. As lovely as they are studded with currants and zest or turned savoury by smatterings of herbs and cheese the true, classic scone requires lashings of jam, a good dollop of cream, and a nice big pot of strong, black tea.
This beautiful recipe from the Agrarian Kitchen fits the bill perfectly, and that it begins by first preparing your own buttermilk (and butter) is pure genius. Lighter than the cultured version (hello, next project) the buttermilk gives the scones a creamy texture without being too dense, making them perfectly fluffy and easy to tear apart.
Fortuitously I had a frozen stash of last summer's blackberries to hand, so there's also a quick jam to whip up if you're feeling especially productive, but any berry-based condiment will suffice.
Taking baking from scratch to a whole new level, friends, the champion scone recipe has arrived...
BLACKBERRY APPLE JAM
- 900 g wild blackberries
- 3 medium apples, peeled, cored and finely diced
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 600 g caster sugar
Warm the blackberries in a large, deep pan until they begin to release their juices. Add the apple and lemon juice, bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes, until the fruit is soft and the berries are starting to break down. Slowly start adding the sugar, allowing the jam to return to the boil between each addition. Simmer, skimming any foam that develops from time to time, until the jam reaches setting point. Pour into sterilised jars and allow to set.
BUTTERMILK SCONES (Adapted from The Agrarian Kitchen by Rodney Dunn)
- 400 ml cream
- 300 g plain flour
- 2.5 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 50 g unsalted butter
- milk, for brushing
Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Whisk the cream in an electric mixer until it separates into large yellow clumps of butter a the whey-like buttermilk. Pour through a sieve set over a bowl to reserve the buttermilk then rinse the butter under cold water, massaging to remove any traces of buttermilk*.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, then rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Pour 250 ml of the reserved buttermilk into a well made in the centre of the flour, then mix with a knife to form a soft dough.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly-floured surface, knead lightly to bring it together and then press out with your hands to a thickness of 4 cm. Press out the scones using a round cutter 5-6 cm in diameter and place them touching each other on the prepared baking tray. Brush the tops of the scones with milk and then bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.
Serve warm with jam, some freshly-made butter* and/or cream.
** Traces of buttermilk will cause the butter to turn rancid more quickly.
** Rodney uses his to prepare honey butter, which is positively glorious (and a most excellent accompaniment to crumpets). His recipe can be found in The Agrarian Kitchen cookbook, linked above.