A couple of weeks ago, while I was singing and dancing about lemon curd, I may have glibly referenced the terribleness of scones in the United States. I stand by that. In my experience, scones are dense, dry and tasteless. I suspect that people only eat them because they think it makes them seem sophisticated and worldly, and maybe also because muffins are kind of embarrassing to eat in public.
I recently tried an Australian scone recipe, expecting very little. Even awful scones, I figured, would be one more thing I could cover in glorious lemon curd. And then the unforeseeable happened, just like Mayhem said it would.
They were amazing.
They were fluffy inside, a little crisp outside, and satisfying all over. When they first came out of the oven, they were also warm. And when they stopped being warm they didn’t stop being fluffy, crisp and satisfying.
Imagine the ideal buttermilk biscuit. The inner texture of these scones is similar, but with neither the turns-to-glue-in-your-mouth property that characterizes drop biscuits (a quality I happen to love, but didn’t miss) nor the tough breadiness of the rolled-out-and-cut-into-circles biscuits. These scones were, I might venture to say, more perfect than a perfect buttermilk biscuit.
They were easy. And I made them with things I already had in the house. And they didn’t take a lot of time or cleanup. In fact, by the third time I made them, I figured out how to do it with just one mixing bowl, a couple of measuring cups and spoons, and a baking sheet.
That third time? That was the day after I found the recipe. After I tried them once, I made another batch the next morning for breakfast. Then in the evening, I made them again because I had company. And then I was out of cream and I thought, yeah, I should probably hold off on buying more cream for a little while, because I’ve eaten like two dozen scones this week.
I bought more cream the next day. You only live once.
Scones from the Country Women’s Association of Australia
(Adapted for American kitchens from a recipe by Yvonne Dighton)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 2/3 cup milk
- Preheat oven to 425F. Prepare a baking sheet with greased parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- Sift or stir together dry ingredients. (Sifting may yield fluffier scones, but if you choose instead to stir, be very thorough.)
- With a pastry cutter or butter knives, gradually cut the cream into the dry ingredients, then continue to do this with the milk until the mixture is wet enough to come together as a soft dough. The dough should not be especially sticky. (If it becomes sticky, add more flour, 1 tsp at a time.)
- Dust the top of the dough with flour and lift it out of the bowl with your hands, then dust the bowl itself with flour so that you can return the dough to the bowl and there form it into a big flour-coated ball. Do not, under any circumstances, knead.
- Transfer the dough to the baking sheet and form it into a rectangle about 3/4″ thick. Use a knife to score it all the way through into portions. Brush the tops of the scones with the remaining milk.
- Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before breaking the scones apart by hand.