There are numerous advantages that come with being from the Westcountry; not least the proprietary air one is justified in feeling whenever Bill Bailey performs (Westcountry born and bred), the Yeo Valley adverts (advertising and produce at its best-http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=oTrG7mpb61U or the equally brilliant rap:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zokQDSttfOk&feature=player_detailpage ), Cider, Clotted Cream, Pasties and the infamous Devon Cream Tea. True the stereotype that comes along with being from Devon requires a certain amount of tolerance; most folk are fairly surprised to learn that I am in fact under 70, that I do not surf, that I have never risen at dawn to milk cows in the mist, and that I do not speak like Samwise Gamgee. I do however, merrily endorse the stereotype in many ways; I love clotted cream and all things dairy based, I drink nothing but cider all summer long, and I make the best scones in the world.
I know that sounds immodest, but I do not pertain to have many distinguishing qualities; I have goofy teeth, excessively chubby cheeks, mousy hair, and I could do with losing a stone or two- but I really do make wonderful scones. It has taken me years to perfect the technique, and I think it’s time I shared it with you. They are the one thing I know I can rustle up in 5 minutes and they’ll be delicious every time, not because I am a genius, but because the recipe is brilliant. Two essentials though; they must be eaten warm from the oven if you want to enjoy them at their best, and they must be eaten with raspberry jam (strawberry is too saccharine for me) and clotted cream.
Another word on scones- I know some like raisins or sultanas or whatever other embellishments; I even have a recipe for Black Treacle scones which are lovely, but these fall under an entirely different category. A sultana speckled scone is a “Fat Rascal”, and is supposed to be eaten with just butter or maybe butter and jam. If you really like your scones with fruit in then just add a handful of raisins or sultanas to this recipe, but I think they are best kept unadulterated; there are many other occasions for sultanas – fruit cake, welsh cakes and tea cakes to name but a few. Recipes for these will no doubt follow in time….
Makes 6 medium-small scones, double the recipe of you like them big and generous
250g self-raising flour
45g unsalted butter
50g caster sugar
1 egg and ¼ pint milk, mixed
Preheat the oven to 180 and line a flat baking tray with paper. Put the flour in a bowl with the salt, then rub in the butter with your fingertips until it looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar. Pour in the liquid stirring gently with a wooden spoon. It should come together as a soft-ish dough- not dry and not sticky. Add a splash more milk if necessary. Bring it together lightly with your hands, and turn it onto a lightly floured board/kitchen surface. Pat it together very gently- the trick to feather light scones is very gentle treatment- DO NOT treat it roughly or your scones will be tough. Pat it down until it’s about an inch and a half thick, then cut out the scones with your cutter of choice. Using a cutter you should always flour it before you cut, and make sure you press straight down, NO twisting or the scones rise unevenly. Then brush the tops of the scones with milk and put them on the tray. Put in the oven and check them after 15 minutes. They should be golden and cooked through, but may need another 5 mins depending on your oven. Eat warm with raspberry jam, clotted cream and a pot of tea. Nothing says love like a Cream Tea.