The Scottish Scone: the ultimate quick bread
My secret ingredients are free and can be added at any me –confidence and care. Be confident that you will make the best scones and they will be sensational. Care about them, using good quality ingredients and they will reward you with their deliciousness. If you worry, something will go wrong – perhaps the worry is transmitted through the fingers. I remember my heavy, lumpy offerings when a scone novice. Just keep practising.
I think many people forget this is a simple farmhouse food, to be rustled up at the last minute if uninvited guests suddenly turn up for tea. It is a simple quick bread that can be served with good butter and jam or go for the ultimate local delicacy of the West Country, a Cream Tea.
There are many, many different recipes for scones. Some recipes use eggs, some don’t. Everybody seems to have a closely guarded secret to make sure their scones are the best. My secret ingredients are free and can be added at any me – confidence and care. I personally don’t use egg as I view scones as a quick bread – the simpler the btter.
Be confident that you will make the best scones and they will be sensational. Care about them, using good quality ingredients, and they will reward you with their deliciousness. If you worry, something will go wrong – perhaps the worry is transmitted through the fingers. I remember my heavy, lumpy offerings when a scone novice. Just keep practising. This recipe for plain scones is pretty fool-proof.
A scone is a form of bread, the core complex carbohydrate of the British diet. Today this humble quick-baked staple food has reached an almost mythical status of importance at the English tea table.
Biscuits, Bread, Buns and Cakes
Evidence of different forms of breads have been present on the domestic English tea table since the early 18th Century. Bread was the staple food in the ecosystem of the of the English home, holding a relationship with the home brewing of ale as the everyday drink and the consequential production of yeast as the main raising agent for breads, buns and cakes. We talk of toasted tea cakes which are spongy bread buns with spices and dried fruits, muffins that are yeasty flat buttermilk breads, and tea breads, more of a loaf cake, this time flavoured with dried fruits, spices and tea. All are served with butter.
The scone is closely allied to the Scottish Bannock and the term, scone is used to cover a wide range of fairly plain small cakes (the term cake being a reference to a small round entity of foodstuffs pressed together – think oatcakes and fishcakes). The frontiers between the terms cake, biscuit, bread and bun are indistinct.
The 1861 edition of Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management makes no mention of the scone. There are numerous recipes for similar quick breads (breads that do not use yeast as the leavening agent) that are listed under the names of Light Buns (with dried fruits and spices), Soda Bread (no butter), and Nice Breakfast Cakes, (no butter but enriched with eggs).
Mrs Beeton’s recipe for Soda Biscuits is probably the nearest that I can find for what I call a traditional scone in terms of ingredients although it has a hefty amount of sugar.
The Common Theme that runs through scones and quick-bread recipes
All the recipes for these quick breads carry the instruction to work quickly and lightly when using bicarbonate of soda or baking powder and to get the items into the hot oven as quickly as possible otherwise they become ‘heavy’. Unlike breads made with yeast where you want to knead the dough to release the gluten in the flour and let it slowly rise and knock back, the use of chemical raising agents need a different and very light touch.
The advantage of making scones, soda biscuits, soda breads agents is the speed at which they can be produced. I can get them from the initial thought in my head to table as a finished bread within 20 minutes. There is no need for advance preparation(I always have flour, butter, baking powder and milk). They are not designed for longevity – ideally you want to eat them on the day of baking and you will find that good old-fashioned bakeries will not sell them on the following day after making.
I have recipes for Soda Scones that can be made on a hot griddle plate or in the oven that are both forms of quick breads, and there is no reason why you cannot make your scones over a fire either in a heavy frying pan or even in a cast iron pot – they just need a high even heat.
Alongside this we have drop scones or Scotch Pancakes that are like thick mini pancakes cooked in a pan or on a hot griddle plate.
The scone is very much a product of the home and definitely a food to eat at a dining table. They can be served with a thick layer of cream or good farmhouse butter if you can get it. No other bread type food is required as one or two of these are going to completely fill you up.
DOUBLE CHECK THE PICTURS AND RECIPES FROM THE OLD SCONE ARTICLE