My blogging seems punctuated with these bursts of energy where, after reading posts of others such as a colleague who actively blogs, I feel like I should post. After all, I do not lack for photos and content in my posts, considering the amount of backlog I have. These scones have been a regular on my ‘Australian’ repertoire for some time. Yes, I do have an Australian repertoire and a Singapore one. When I’m in Australia, I feel like I’m so much more adventurous, trying out new ingredients and cooking new things because I can’t resort to eating what my mom cooks. In Australia, I also use a lot more ricotta and other dairy products (excluding cream cheese which for some reason I find not as nice, and the variety to be lesser than what I can get locally) because the dairy products there smell and taste SO GOOD.
The first things I get for myself when I’m at Coles or Woolies would be blocks of butter, including a block of salted cultured butter for eating purposes, together with copious amounts of cream, cheese and sour cream. So, as you can tell, most of the recipes and things I make in Australia centre around trying to get rid and finish up using these dairy products. These cream scones, together with another recipe for scones made using sour cream, are my two favourite scone recipes. My scones look more like scraggly biscuits, but that’s fine with me, because I’m loathe to shape and cut my scones nicely, and little ‘rocks’ like these suit me fine.
Speaking of Australia and scones, I like the way Australians pronounce scones – it sounds like “skawns”, which is what the Brits pronounce it as. Somehow in Singapore, I tend to hear “sk-owns” more often instead, which is the more American version. The difference in pronunciation is alluded to in this poem, which I found on wiki:
I asked the maid in dulcet tone
To order me a buttered scone
The silly girl has been and gone
And ordered me a buttered scone.
Interesting, ain’t it?
You might have also heard of scones referred to as biscuits. This is especially if you follow American blogs (like I do), and they write about making biscuits, which is essentially scones! If you’re a Brit however (or a local), biscuits probably just means cookies or things that you dip into coffee ;p
I don’t think there is any great difference between biscuits and scones, although some say that one is lighter in texture than the other. Some might say biscuits are circular in size, whereas scones are always triangular wedges. Apparently in Scotland, the motherland of scones, scones are traditionally cut into wedges and made with oats. Audax, in her “Back to Basics Scones/ Biscuits” Daring Bakers challenge way back in January 2012, provides a really helpful introduction, if you’re interested.
Rock cakes or buns on the other hand, are a different creature. Rock cakes are Harry Potter’s favourite tea time treats! Rock cakes are small hard fruit cakes with a rough surface resembling a rock, and they were apparently promoted by the British government during WW2 as they used fewer eggs and sugar than normal cakes – which helped in food rationing.
Anyway, there are like a million scone recipes out there, but as with almost all recipes, there is a basic ratio. This is why I love Ruhlman and his book Ratio. I’ve raved about it previously, and I’m raving about it again now. He reduces all the recipes into simple basic ratios – so for instance, “biscuits” which are scones, have a basic ratio of 3 parts flour to 2 parts liquid and 1 part butter. He also states that 1 teaspoon baking powder should be added into every 5oz of flour, and not to overwork the dough by cutting the fat into the flour. Of course, if you’re just beginning to bake, I would not recommend that you use Ruhlman’s book, because as a beginner, you would need a lot of guidance and every success counts! Once you get past a few months of experience, this book will come in handy, especially if you are a “wing it” kind of person like me. As long as you stick close to the ratio, the world is your oyster. In fact, I might go as far as to amend Ruhlman’s ratio to say that the 1 part butter need not be butter, because as long as a form of fat is used, you should be fine. So in this case, you can see that I’m using cream as both the liquid AND the fat.
There is another simplified version, which is apparently an Aussie favourite, which I have yet to try. It’s very simple – 3 cups of self raising flour to 1 cup of pure cream and 1 cup of lemonade. This of course, may seem like it varies from the basic ratio, but the parts in Ruhlman’s ratio above should be interpreted in weights, so that’s 450g of flour to 250g of cream and 250g of lemonade, which is very close to Ruhlman’s ratio! This comes from Celia and the use of lemonade (or any other gassy drink) helps with the fluffiness of the scones due to the bubbles.
I typically make these scones plain, but add in things like chocolate chips and frozen fruit like blueberries and lemon zest as I’m ‘shaping’ the scones. Definitely not something to eat when you’re dieting, but if you have lots of cream in the fridge, do try this recipe out. The scones, when baked, can last for ages in the freezer! If you wish, you can also freeze the unbaked scones (already shaped) and pop them into the oven when you want freshly baked scones! I typically bake an entire recipe for 2 people, and the rest, after cooling, goes straight into ziplock bags in the freezer. When you have a fancy for warm scones with cream and jam in the morning, just pop one of these babies onto a plate into the microwave, and put it on thaw for like 5-10 minutes, depending on how powerful your microwave is, and you will be greeted with this warm buttery aroma :]
- 240g all purpose flour
- 3 tbsp caster sugar (I used 20g fine granulated sugar)
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 70g unsalted butter, cubed
- 240g heavy cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Optional: ½ cup of berries like cranberries or raisins (with 1tsp lemon zest) or chocolate chips
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 150°C.
- Sift flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in large bowl.
- Then, use your fingertips to quickly cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Stir in any add-ins at this point before stirring in the heavy cream and vanilla extract. Stir until a dough is formed. Turn the dough out onto a floured countertop and briefly knead it until you can a rough sticky ball. Flatten the dough into a circle of about 6cm thick and either use a round cutter to cut circle shapes in the dough, or use a bench scraper to cut the circle into triangular wedges. Re-use any scraps by pressing them together.
- Place rounds or wedges on an ungreased baking sheet and bake until the scone tops are light brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Taste: Very buttery, especially if you add a tiny teaspoon of vanilla into the mixture. The scones aren’t very sweet or flavourful on their own, so a dollop of cream and jam on the side would definitely be required ;p
Texture: These scones are firm on the outside, and yet crumbles into these buttery pieces in your mouth. They definitely do not have a cake-like texture which some ‘scones’ have.
Storage: The beautiful thing about scones is that they can be stored in the freezer before you bake them, or even after you bake them. They also last a long long time in the freezer (I’ve eaten months-old scones and they still taste fantastic!) Just heat them up and they’re as good as new!
Would I make this again?: Definitely!