The success of a scone doesn’t just rest on taste, but also on the height of the scone. Successful scones should be tall and easily cut in half horizontally, then topped with your desired topping.
Do you need self-raising flour for scones?
The simple answer is, because height is such an important factor in scones, sacrificing self-raising flour for plain flour means you’ll need to up the amount of another raising agent.
Various famous chefs and bakers use different methods to attain tall scones.
Delia Smith relies on self-raising flour, whereas baking stalwart Paul Hollywood insists on replacing the raising element with baking powder.
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Here are two recipes for scones, using plain and self raising flour.
Plain Flour – Paul Hollywood
- 500g/1lb 1oz strong white flour, plus a little extra for rolling out
- 80g/3oz softened butter, plus a little extra to grease the baking tray
- 80g/3oz caster sugar
- 2 free-range eggs
- 5 tsp baking powder
- 250ml/8½fl oz milk
- 1 free-range egg, beaten with a little salt (for glazing)
Preheat the oven to 220C (200C fan assisted)/425F/Gas 7.
Lightly grease a baking tray with butter and line it with baking or silicone paper (not greaseproof).
Put 450g/15½oz of the flour into a large bowl and add the butter. Rub the flour and butter together with your fingers to create a breadcrumb-like mixture.
Add the sugar, eggs and baking powder and use a wooden spoon to turn the mixture gently. Make sure you mix all the way down to the bottom and incorporate all of the ingredients.
Now add half of the milk and keep turning the mixture gently with the spoon to combine. Then add the remaining milk a little at a time and bring everything together to form a very soft, wet dough. (You may not need to add all of the milk.)
Sprinkle most of the remaining flour onto a clean work surface. Tip the soft dough out onto the work surface and sprinkle the rest of the flour on top. The mixture will be wet and sticky.
Use your hands to fold the dough in half, then turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat. By folding and turning the mixture in this way (called ‘chaffing’), you incorporate the last of the flour and add air. Do this a few times until you’ve formed a smooth dough. If the mixture becomes too sticky use some extra flour to coat the mixture or your hands to make it more manageable. Be careful not to overwork your dough.
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Next roll the dough out: sprinkle flour onto the work surface and the top of the dough, then use the rolling pin to roll up from the middle and then down from the middle. Turn the dough by 90 degrees and continue to roll until it’s about 2.5cm/1in thick. ‘Relax’ the dough slightly by lifting the edges and allowing the dough to drop back onto the work surface.
Using a pastry cutter, stamp out rounds from the pastry and place them onto the baking tray. Dip the edge of the pastry cutter in flour to make it easier to cut out the scones without them sticking. Don’t twist the cutter – just press firmly, then lift it up and push the dough out.
Once you’ve cut 4 or 5 rounds you can re-work and re-roll the dough to make it easier to cut out the remaining rounds. Any leftover dough can be worked and rolled again, but the resulting scones won’t be as fluffy.
Place the scones on the baking tray and leave them to rest for a few minutes to let the baking powder work. Then use a pastry brush (or your finger if you don’t have a brush) to glaze them with the beaten egg and salt mixture. Be careful to keep the glaze on the top of the scones. (If it runs down the sides it will stop them rising evenly.)
Bake the scones in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes, or until the scones are risen and golden-brown.
Leave the scones to cool, then split in half and add butter, jam and clotted cream to serve.
Self raising flour – Delia Smith
40g spreadable butter
225g self raising flour
A pinch of salt
110ml of milk
One and a half tablespoons of golden caster sugar
Begin by rubbing the butter into the sieved flour quickly, using your fingertips, then stir in the sugar followed by a pinch of salt.
Now, using a knife, mix in the milk little by little, and when it’s all in, flour your hands and knead the mixture to a soft dough (you may find you need just a drop more milk if it feels at all dry).
Place the dough on a floured pastry board and with a rolling pin (also floured) lightly roll it out to a thickness of about 3cm. This thickness is vital. The reason scones don’t rise enough is because they are rolled too thin.
Then take the pastry cutter and tap it sharply so that it goes straight through the dough – do not twist or the scones will turn out a strange shape!
When you have cut as many as you can, knead the remaining dough together again and repeat. Then place the scones on the baking sheet, dust each one with flour and bake near the top of the oven for 12–15 minutes.
When they’re done they will have risen and turned a golden brown. Then transfer them to a wire rack and eat as soon as they are cool enough, spread with butter, jam and clotted cream.
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