by Phyllis Irene Radford
In 1971, my husband and I took a belated honeymoon in Scotland — his ancestral home. At one of our many stops in a tourist shop we picked up a book Recipes from Scotland by F. Marian McNeill. There are recipes in this book I haven’t used in forty-four years, like Venison Pasty and Roast Grouse. But there are a dozen scone recipes. I go back to White Oven Scones time and time again. When I was in Scotland I learned that a most prized wedding gift was a kitchen scale. One with a large scoop-shaped weighing platform, detachable for easy cleaning, was the best of all. Here’s why:
Serve warm (not hot) for tea, and spread with butter and/or jam.
This took some translation. By trial and error, lots and lots of errors, I figured out that 1 lb of flour equals 4 cups. 1 oz. of sugar is about 1/8 cup. And 3 oz. of butter is 6 tbs. A pretty quick oven is 375-450 degrees depending on your oven. 425 works for me. But the milk to mix? A very soft dough? I actually went back to my grandmother’s handwritten recipe for biscuits—American style as a biscuit in Britain is what we call a cookie—very soft dough translates as too sticky to handle. Milk is what makes a scone tender and flakey. Milk to mix means keep the carton handy to add 1 tbls at a time until it is a sticky mess. I cover my baking parchment (or cutting board or one of those Tupperware plastic rolls) liberally with flour and dump 1/3 of the dough onto it, then flipped it so that just the outsides are coated with enough flour to manipulate. Then pat into a circle and cut into quarters, slip them onto the lightly greased baking sheet. Repeat with the other two blobs of dough in the bowl.
Using a wooden spoon and keeping your hands out of the dough also helps the tenderness. Oh, and don’t substitute baking powder for the soda and cream of tartar. Most commercial brands contain aluminum sulfate to prevent caking. A
properly made scone will retain the metallic aftertaste.