Flour, butter, eggs, raising agent, sugar and milk are all that’s required to make a batch of scones. I favour locally milled flour, Irish butter, free-range organic eggs and buttermilk when I’m making scones.

Once you have mastered the classic scone there are lots of delicious variations to try. Fruit scones with sultanas or currants. Cherry scones using glace cherries, pear & cinnamon using fresh pears in autumn, apple and ginger using Bramley apples and rhubarb and ginger when the rhubarb appears in Spring are some of my favourites.

So what makes a good scone.

Good ingredients for starters as in all baking and cooking. Then a few key things.

Don’t overwork your dough. When you add the liquid ingredients to the dry just use one hand and work firmly and quickly to bring the mix together. You are not kneading this at any point just literally bringing the mix together. This will ensure a light, fluffy scone.

Keep the dough mix quite soft. By that, I mean adding enough milk so that the mixture is really soft and sticky. I find this produces the lightest crumb and that all-important melt-in-the-mouth texture.

How to get a good rise on your scones

To get a good rise on your scones do not roll or press the mixture too flat. I don’t use a rolling pin at all, I just flatten it a bit with my fingers and keep it at least 2.5cm high. If using a scone cutter keeping the dough to the depth of the cutter is a good guide. Just press the scone cutter straight down and don’t twist it , alternatively use a knife to cut the dough into triangular shapes.

Have your oven really hot to start and do not open the oven until you can see the scones starting to brown on top. Only open the oven if you need to turn the tray around as often the back of the oven is hotter. This also ensures a good rise.

This is my classic Buttermilk Scone recipe

Buttermilk Scones

makes 8 – 12 small scones

335g Self Raising Soda flour (or Self Raising flour)
110g butter (at room temperature)
60g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
pinch salt
5 – 8 fl oz buttermilk

Need a scone cutter and a lined baking tray

Preheat oven to 220C / 200C Fan

Sift the flour into a wide bowl, rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Stir in the sugar and salt.

Break the eggs into a small bowl and add about half of the buttermilk.  Whisk together with a fork.

Make a well in the flour, add the milk and egg mixture and mix together with your hand until the mixture comes together, adding more milk if necessary.

It should be very soft and a bit sticky.

Turn out onto a well floured surface and knead lightly just to bring the dough together.

Press down a little and cut into rounds using the cutter and placing on the baking sheet as you go.

Brush the tops with buttermilk and sprinkle with a little flour.

Bake in the hot oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden.

Cool on a wire rack.

Note – for fruit scones, add a small handful of currants to the flour mixture before adding the milk.