bring back summer // english scones

I saw a jumble of thoughts unravel into half-finished sentences in my head then suffocated the mental delete button before they could even materialize into black spots of digital data juxtaposed against the bright white of the wordpress editor. “Going back to basics…”, “I’ve not updated this blog in 5 months but hey how’s it going …” etc etc. What exactly do I want to convey that’s also in line with the context of this post which is that a) I made scones 8 times and I confess that I’ve had never been so motivated to perfect a particular recipe, b) summer was crazy and fall has been busy and winter is set to be crazy busy, I wondered, balancing my laptop on top of a pile of furry blankets under which I was contentedly rendered immobile because it would take all of 0.5 seconds spent outside this cave of fabric to realise that single digit weather is coming and here to stay for the next hundred days. Throughout this entire brainstorming process there was, not so much one particular thought as an assemblage of phrases confirming a single notion – where did summer go, I miss summer, bring back summer.

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Summer came and left like a whirlwind – fleeting, ephemeral, evanescent. Doesn’t it always? If only winter had that same transience.

Alas, what good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.

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So scones and summer. Summer and scones. How do they relate to each other outside an alliterative sense? They don’t, but do they have to? It just so happens that scones were this summer’s sunday afternoon gatherings’ staple-turned-obsession. They’re super quick to make – albeit not always foolproof, as I have learned – and strike the perfect balance between homey and fancy when served with an array of jams and a generous bowlful of mascarpone cream, which! I insist is more delicious than traditional clotted cream. Cross my heart.

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 I must have attempted three scone recipes before narrowing my preference down to two then one, which is this one, which I also made over and over again because the results weren’t consistent until I realised why. So here’s a few things I’ve learned: 

Eggs seem to make for fluffier scones (at least based on this recipe). However, the scones from the aforementioned recipe are not as rich in flavour compared to the one below. That said, if scones are but mere vehicles for jam and cream to you then I 100% recommend the one I just linked.

Substitute some of the milk for yogurt for added flavour.

Consistency of the dough is everything – if the dough is too soft, the scones might expand sideways instead of upwards due to the lack of structure. Conversely, if the dough is too stiff the scones might barely expand. 

I have found that the recipe below makes scones that are buttery and flavourful enough to eat on their own. They also hold up well against the most flavoursome of jams. I wish they could be fluffier, but I would probably have to cut out some of the butter and compromise on how delicious they are. They’re still plenty fluffy though, I’m realising now that I forgot to take a picture of the cross section so I’ll slot one in in a future post when I bake these again!

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English Scones

makes about 6 two-inch scones

For the scones:

150 grams plain flour (+ 15 grams matcha powder, if using)

45 grams unsalted butter, cold and cubed

30 grams sugar

10.5 grams baking powder

45 grams plain yogurt

30 ml milk (plus more if necessary) 

1 beaten egg, to glaze 

Make the scones: Place the flour (and matcha powder, if using) and butter into a food processor and process until the mixture takes on a sandy texture. Transfer the flour mixture into a large bowl and stir in the sugar and baking powder, then the yogurt and milk. Mix until the mixture starts to come together, transfer to a lightly floured work surface and knead until a dough forms. It doesn’t have to be completely smooth. I noticed that for fluffier scones, the dough should be slightly sticky so it’ll be a good idea to add a splash of milk if your dough seems a little dry and stiff. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 200C and line a baking tray with parchment or a silicone baking mat.

Roll out the chilled dough until it’s about 25 cm in length; take the top third and fold it downwards toward the middle, take the bottom third and fold it up towards the middle. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and repeat the aforementioned process. Finally, roll the dough out to a rectangle that’s about 2 cm thick. Dip a 2 inch round cutter in flour and stamp out rounds of dough using clean and swift strokes, do not twist the cutter when retrieving the cutouts.

Transfer the circles of dough to the prepared baking tray and apply a thin layer of egg wash on the tops of the dough. Bake for 15 minutes. 

Note: recipe retrieved with minor modifications from here.

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