Coffee-time scones

Let’s start with a short blast of theory. Baking boffins, regardless of origin, insist that dry ingredients, like flour, be sifted before mixing.

This is to remove clumps of the dry ingredients from the mix, ensuring that the resultant baked product has a uniform texture and consistency. Well, I can’t argue with that. On the other hand, sifting is a dusty, messy business in the hands of the new cook. Spring-loaded devices exist, which give the right forearm a serious workout. A simpler method is to use a standard kitchen sieve. What you do is pour in the dry ingredients (the caster sugar, baking powder, pinch of salt and flour) and lightly tap the rim. The sifted contents will fall neatly into the mixing bowl, leaving the unwanted bits behind.

Butter fingers
Now for the messy bit. Cut the 50g of refrigerated butter into small cubes. Drop these into the mixing bowl that already contains the freshly sifted dry ingredients. With your well-washed bare hands, work the butter cubes into the flour mixture by rubbing them between your fingers and thumb. Messy, but satisfying and productive.Crack one of the eggs into a separate mixing bowl, add the 100ml of cold milk and lightly beat them together. Pour all this wet stuff into the main mixing bowl with the sifted dry ingredients and the butter. Rev up the mixer for a brief blast – too much and you get a hard scone, and nobody wants that. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to a 30mm thickness. Cut out eight rounds with a cookie cutter and place these on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Beat the second egg with a tablespoon of milk and paint a little of this glaze over each raw scone. Leave room round each one for expansion while baking. Give these guys 20 minutes in the centre of the oven, then remove and allow to cool on a rack.

Best served with coffee
Cut them in half, add a tart marmalade and a spoon of whipped cream and enjoy, with a small cup of freshly brewed black, unsweetened Ethiopian coffee. The secret to outstanding coffee is first, freshly roasted beans, second, grinding just before brewing, and finally, the method of your choice – plunger, two division Italian stovetop appliance or 20-grand espresso coffee machine. Why only eight scones I hear you ask? Short shelf life, man. And a hearty respect for your waistline. – David Basckin     |fw

A scone is one of the best things that can happen to flour, eggs and butter. This coffee-time staple is filled with mystery, especially in the hands of home bakers reluctant to share their secrets. So here’s a classic recipe, made by millions of successful home bakers whose number you are about to join.

To make eight scones, you will need:
2 eggs (one for the glaze)
250g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
15g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
50g butter
100ml milk