Scones

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Preparation info

  • Makes

    16

    Scones
    • Difficulty

      Easy

Appears in

The Official Downton Abbey Cookbook

The Official Downton Abbey Cookbook

By Annie Gray

Published 2019

  • About

A staple of the twentieth-century tea table, scones have become a British classic, and, as befits such a simple recipe, they are the subject of fierce debate. They are generally eaten with cream and jam, a habit popularized by the rise of Cornish and Devonshire cream teas, heavily marketed to the modern leisure motorist in the 1920s and 1930s. In this case, the argument centers on whether the eater puts jam on first or cream on first (there is also debate over what type of cream, but it should always be clotted cream, and the more lumps the better). It’s not a question Downton illuminates, however, since even though scones appear frequently both in the kitchen and upstairs, we never quite see the moment of consumption. There’s also a question over how the word scone is pronounced—either as “skon” or “scohwn”—and this is settled in Downton: when Mrs. Patmore serves them up to Lord and Lady Grantham at her B and B in season 6, both she and Robert pronounce it “skon.”

Ingredients

  • cups (450 g) flour, plus more for the work surface
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons superfine sugar
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons cold solid vegetable shortening or lard, cut into cubes
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup (240 ml) milk, plus more for brushing
  • ½ cup (90 g) dried currants (optional)

Method

Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Have ready an ungreased large sheet pan.

Put the flour, sugar, and baking powder into a large bowl and stir together. Scatter the shortening and butter cubes over the top and, using a pastry blender or your fingers, work in the butter and shortening until the mixture is the consistency of bread crumbs. Whisk the egg in a small bowl until blended, then whisk in the milk. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and mix until a slightly crumbly but cohesive dough forms. Add the currants, if using, and gently knead into the dough.

Divide the dough into 16 equal portions weighing about 2 oz/60 g each and shape each portion into a ball. Arrange the balls on the sheet pan, spacing them well apart, and press down lightly on each ball to flatten the top. Make two cuts almost all the way through at right angles to each other, so that you form four wedges, which can easily be torn apart when served. (Alternatively, on a floured work surface, roll out the dough to about 1½ inches (4 cm) thick and use a 2-inch (5-cm) round biscuit cutter to cut into rounds.) Brush the tops with milk.

Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. After 10 minutes, it is worth turning them over to brown the bottoms, if you like. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool before serving.

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