We adapted this melt-in-your-mouth scone or biscuit recipe from the The Zuni Cafe Cookbook: A Compendium of Recipes and Cooking Lessons from San Francisco’s Beloved Restaurant by the late Judy Rogers. Despite owning thousands of cookbooks, it remains one of our favourites.
390g plain flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
140g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
235g butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350F/180C/Gas 4. Dust a baking sheet with flour and put it in the oven while it is preheating.
2. Put the flour, baking powder, caster sugar and salt into a large bowl or into the bowl of a food processor. Whisk or whizz.
3. Method by hand: Cut the butter into small cubes. Rub the butter into the flour and sugar mixture with your fingertips, lifting and dropping the flour as you rub the butter in to keep the mixture light. Mix the milk with the egg and vanilla extract. Add just enough liquid to create a soft dough. Place the dough on a large piece of cling film.
Method by Food Processor: If you are using a food processor pulse the flour/sugar mixture with the butter. (Don’t over-process, you need small lumps of butter to make the scones flaky.) Mix the milk with the egg and vanilla extract. Add to the flour and butter mixture while pulsing holding back some of the liquid in case the mixture gets too wet (add it only if you need it). When the mixture clumps pour it onto a large sheet of cling film.
4. Knead the dough lightly on the cling film sheet just to bring it together but stop once it comes together or your scones will be tough.
5. Gently press the scone dough into a lozenge about 3-4 inches wide and one and a half to 2 inches high. Cut into triangles or squares and place the scones on the hot baking tray nudging them together. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden (see our photograph above). Eat warm with butter.
– Orange and cherry scones: Add the zest of one orange and 40 halved glacé cherries after you have combined the butter.
– Walnut and Sultana scones: Add about 10 crushed walnuts or 100g golden sultanas after you have combined the butter. Replace the vanilla extract with a teaspoon of orange flower water.
– For Cinnamon and Fruit Scones: Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon (or mixed spice) and 100g sultanas.
A note on the recipe:
These are not like traditional Irish scones, they are crumbly and, if you don’t add fruit or nuts, they tend to flatten out on the baking tray. Try not to use too much liquid which will make the dough too wet or sticky. But don’t worry if they are flatter – it means that more of the top becomes golden and crunchy and you’ll need to eat more lovely butter on each bit. They will be a success either way.
Photograph © foodpixies.com