Sophie’s Scones

Sophie lives on the island of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. Her Gaelic lilt is so gentle that it is almost lost in the sound of the gale, but she suggests that the less the dough is handled the lighter the scones will be. Buttermilk or yoghurt lightens them still further and the dough should be patted out thickly as thin scones can become hard.

In Scotland these were served spread with whipped cream and then jam. In Devon I would use clotted cream — and it makes all the difference if the jam is home-made.

Ingredients

  • 225 g/8 oz plain flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 level teaspoon salt
  • 25 g/1 oz caster sugar
  • 50 g/2 oz butter
  • 1 small egg
  • 125 ml/4 fl oz buttermilk or yoghurt

Method

Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F/gas mark 8. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and caster sugar twice through a fine sieve into a bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and rub it in with your fingertips until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.

Whisk the egg into the buttermilk or yoghurt with a fork. Make a well in the flour mixture, add the liquid and stir with a fork to form a soft dough. Butter a large baking sheet very lightly indeed and place it on a shelf towards the top of the oven. With well-floured hands, gather the dough together and knead very lightly just until smooth. On a floured surface, press the dough out lightly with the palm of your hand, not less than 1.25 cm/½ in thick.

Using a 5 cm/2 in cutter, cut out the scones firmly. Gather up the scraps, knead them together lightly and cut out more scones. Using a spatula, transfer the scones gently to the heated baking sheet and sprinkle with a little flour. Then put them in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until risen and pale golden brown.

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