Real Welsh Scones

One of my dearest friends, Kyra Effren, lives in Dallas but spends part of every year with her mother in Cape Town, South Africa. While Kyra is there, she bakes scones for her mother, who was born in Wales and knows good scones, almost every day. These are easy to mix in the food processor—up to a point. I like to pour the powdery mixture into a bowl before adding the liquid so the dough doesn’t get overworked and tough in the machine.

Ingredients

  • cups all-purpose flour (spoon flour into a dry-measure cup and level off)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 cookie sheet or jelly-roll pan lined with parchment or foil

Method

  1. Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 450°F (230°C).
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is mealy but dry and powdery (figure a).
  3. Invert the bowl of the food processor over a mixing bowl and carefully remove the blade.
  4. Quickly whisk the egg and milk together and use a fork to toss the egg mixture into the flour mixture, continuing to toss until all the flour mixture is evenly moistened (figure b).
  5. Gently knead the dough 3 to 4 times, until it is smooth (figure c). Divide the dough in half and press and pat each half into a disk about 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter (figure d). Place the two disks of dough a couple of inches apart on the prepared pan.
  6. Use a floured bench scraper or knife to mark each disk of dough into 8 wedges, pressing straight down, and cutting no further than halfway into the dough disk (figure e).
  7. Bake the scones until they are very deep golden and firm, 12 to 15 minutes.
  8. Slide each disk of baked scones onto a platter and use a knife to cut them completely along the markings into wedges.

Serving

Serve the scones with butter, whipped cream, and jam for tea. They’re also excellent for breakfast or brunch.

Storage

If you don’t serve the scones immediately after they are baked, you may reheat them at 375°F (190°C) for a couple of minutes to warm them. If you wish to prepare them in advance, wrap and freeze them. Defrost and reheat as above.

Variations

Currant or Raisin Scones: Stir ½cup of dark raisins, golden raisins, or currants into the dry ingredients immediately before adding the liquid.

Round Scones: Use either the plain or raisin dough for these. Pat the dough out about ¾inch (3cm thick on a floured surface and use a -inch (6-cm) diameter plain round cutter to form them. Place the scones about 1inch (cm) apart all around on the prepared pan. Press the scraps together and cut more scones, continuing to press the scraps together until you have used all the dough. Bake these for only 8 to 10 minutes.