Last weekend I was cooking for a special tea party: just a few friends carefully spaced out in the garden to keep everyone safe.
The damson chutney I wrote about a few weeks ago was perfect with sausage rolls hot from the oven and blinis topped with simple smoked salmon mousse had different texture, taste and temperature. But the tea-time stars were the scones – only my second attempt in decades. I’d been pondering about the logic of soda bread that uses a rather acid liquid to activate the bicarbonate of soda. Self-raising flour already has the same raising agent and makes a very respectable soda bread with just the liquid added. Why shouldn’t the same principles work with scones?
I use the liquid collected after straining the home-made yoghurt but buttermilk, plain yoghurt or milk with a little vinegar and lemon juice should do just as well. I added some extra baking powder just to make sure.
500g self-raising flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
Half teaspoon salt
80g caster sugar
Up to 250g yoghurt strainings.
5 handfuls sultanas
Zest of one orange
Place all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and rub in the butter.
Crack in the eggs and add half the liquid.
Add the sultanas and orange zest.
Mix the dough with your hands, adding more of the liquid to create a soft dough that is not wet and sticky.
Place the dough on a floured surface and gently press out to the thickness of two fingers.
Cut out scones using a well-floured cutter, reshaping the scraps to cut again.
Place the scones on an oven tray lined with baking parchment and give them 5 minutes or so for the baking powder to start working.
Cook for 15 minutes at Gas 7.
These were split in half and served with last year’s strawberry and Cointreau or cherry jams, topped with clotted cream (Cornish style). And then a super fruit cake that had been injected with lashings of brandy. Yum.