The great humble scone

With all celebrations, there will be a feast. Chinese New Year is a lovely time to stay home, go out to friends homes; relatives homes or get them over for food and some chit chats. Just like the 'At Home' tea evolved to serve tea, cakes and niceties. More often it was simply conversation and a little idle gossip, day long nibbling; and indulge in a slow game of mahjong or a feisty bet of luck with In-Between. Perhaps it's also a time where all diet rules are broken, where most people appear exceptionally friendly extending welcoming visit invites with the coffee table filled with goodies. An occasion more likely doubles to catch up on the "let's-meet-for-coffee-but-never-happened" gathering. Visitors are more willing to take time to enjoy afternoon tea treats and to me, it's such joy where the house comes alive with conversations throughout the day and night.

WIth the extended holiday weekend, I couldn't really quite keep still at home. Toying the idea of doing nothing versus the lures of the kitchen catching up with slow afternoon bakings. Why not serve the British high tea for a change. And I hope to carry on such traditions during weekends.

I've always wanted to bake scones. Because of the fact that I've enjoyed them tremendously. It's such a nostalgic old time favourite tea time treat. Ah, the great British scone, plain really, innocent infact, comparing to the over glamourized American cupcakes or colourful  pops of perfumed Parisian macaroons.

Unlike those dense specimens you'll find in most coffee shops, these honest scones emerge from the oven uncommonly light. They require no sugary icing, just a briefest pause for the requisite toppings. Warm and crumbly to the mouth and utterly delicious once they've been rewarded with a dollop of butter and fruit jam or even  the traditional kaya jam. No, noisy whizz from the mixer too, just gentle rubbing with fingers and a few strokes of pressing together. Yet amidst all its simplicity, this humble scone is highly priced as a tea time cult – it stands or falls on its absolute freshness.

250g self raising flour
100g salted butter
50g icing sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon cream of tar tar
¼ teaspoon vanilla powder (optional)
240 grams buttermilk or cream

1 egg
2 tablespoon buttermilk or cream

Preheat the oven to 190˚C. Grease baking tray. Sieve all the dry ingredients together and rub the butter into the dry mixture, working as quickly and lighty as possible with fingertips. Add enough milk or cream to give a soft, bread-like dough. On a floured board, roll out to a thickness of 1.5cm and cut into rounds with 6cm cutter. Place on the prepared trays and glaze it with egg mixture. Bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly golden and well risen. Remove from the oven and lift on to a wire rack to cool.

Working with this sort of dough requires a bit of loving care. It's all in the name of developing as little gluten as possible, allowing your scones to reach their maximum height and tenderness. Take a look at my tips for light and fluffy scones, below, before launching into the recipe.

• Don't Mess With Scones with the cut: Apply even and firm pressure to your cookie or biscuit cutter when you're cutting out the scones, then use an offset spatula or similar tool to transfer them from the cutting board to your parchment-lined pan. Do not twist the cutter to release and be careful not to touch their sides. (twisting seals the edges and will hinder the rise.)

Till next post, ss. 

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