I love bread.
Growing up, my grandmother ran a Bed & Breakfast and Tea Room and this recipe was one of the tasty staples of her menu that kept locals coming back day after day.
At our house, these are eaten typically for a mid-morning snack (tea time!), but occasionally as breakfast.
They are fantastic with butter melted over the top, or with a healthy dollop of your favourite jam or jelly - displayed in the picture is a Strawberry-Rhubarb Jelly we made this summer.
This is a great bread recipe for beginners and bread aficionados alike, it is easy to whip together, and infinitely flexible. We have even made a version of this recipe using with garlic and herbs and served them up with soup as a type of tea biscuit!
Step 1: Ingredients
1 tbsp sugar (we gave up white sugar a long time ago and use natural cane sugar)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 cup cold butter
1/ cup raisins or currants (or favourite dried fruit)
1 egg - beaten
1/2 to 3/4 cups milk
dash of cinnimon
- A large mixing bowl
- A mixing stick (you know... fork, spatula, long fingers, etc)
- A measuring cup and measuring spoons
- A baking dish/stone and something to bake in (ovens work great)
- (optional) A rolling pin
Step 2: Mix the Dry Goods
At this point my grandmother would say: Sift together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. And she would pull out her ancient tin sifter that looked a lot like a coffee can with a crank.
But who has a sifter anymore?
Instead, measure out the dry ingredients into your mixing bowl (flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and cinnamon.) Then take whatever you settled on for a mixing stick and give it a good stir to combine everything.
Bread tends to turn out better if you cut cold butter into the flour, but it takes a whole lot less effort to melt it in the microwave and pour it in melted. Unless you are a purist, you likely won't notice the difference in the end :)
First measure out your butter. The easiest way to do this is drop chunks of butter into 1 cup of COLD water until the water rises to 1.5 cups. Then pour out the water.
I cut in the butter for these pictures to show the process. If you don't have a fancy tool to do this, two flat sharp knives work really well to get the process going. Just use them like scissors and 'cut' through your flour for a bit.
Once the butter has been cut down to the size of quarters, or smaller, the easiest tools to use to finish the job are your own two hands. Take off any rings and get your hands dirty.
Grab a good handful of the mixture and rub it between your hands, as if you were trying to roll it into a ball. Put lots of pressure on it as you roll. This will squish the remaining butter into the flour. Repeat until your flour looks similar to the final picture above.
Once the butter is mixed in, grab a good handful of your favourite dried fruit (I used raisins in this example) and throw them into the bowl. You can measure, it should be about 1/2 cup, but I never do. I just keep adding fruit until my stomach agrees that it looks good enough to eat. (again, use this recipe as a guide, and experiment)
Mix the fruit into the dry stuffs with a mixing stick.
Step 3: Make It Wet!
Add about 1/2 cup of milk to the measuring cup and mix with the egg, a little more milk is better than a little less.
This is probably all the milk you will need, but, depending on how dry your climate is, your altitude, moon phase, etc. You may need to add another splash to get the right consistancy.
This is actually the hardest, and most critical aspect of good bread making (other than making sure you didn't miss an ingredient of course): Getting the correct dough consistency.
A note on bread dough:
It's the hardest part for beginners, and unfortunately, it's hard to explain. When making bread, DO NOT adhere to the recipe so strictly that you don't pay attention to what you are actually doing. Recipes are supposed to be guides, not bibles, and the best they can do is get you CLOSE to a perfect product - just keep that in mind. You will make better bread by knowing how the dough should feel than by following recipes closely. And the only way to bridge that gap is practice.
Here's a guideline to try and help. Your bread dough should:
- Be handled as little as possible once mixed
- Be 'wetter' than you think is good
- Be soft and pliable
- Stick to your hands
Back to the recipe!
Add your egg and milk to the dough, grab your mixing stick and have at 'er. Scrape the sides and mix until it starts to lump together. (see the picture above)
Step 4: Preparing to Cook
Now you have a choice to make. Do you want to make 'regular' sized scones, or 'large' scones.
They are both good and I highly recommend doing this recipe twice and trying each.
Split the dough into 2 equal lumps and roll into a ball. Use your hands for this.
Roll the dough into 1 large ball of dough. Use your hands.
Rolling Out the Dough
Whether you are creating regular, or large scones, take 1 ball of dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.
Give the dough a little spin through the flour to take the worst of the tackiness off, and, using the palm and heel of your hand, flatten the dough ball out a little bit.
If you have a roller, dust it with flour and roll the dough out to about 1/2" thickness. If you do not have a roller, continue using the feel of your palm and carfully flatten the dough out, pushing the dough to the outside edges.
The edges will crack, or crumble a little as you do this but don't worry. Once you have reached your desired thickness, you can use your hands to gently fix up the worst of the edges by pressing the dough back together. Don't worry about unevenness at the edges though.
Cutting Your Dough.
Now, cut your rolled dough into 8 equal(ish) pieces. Just use one of the knives you used to cut the butter in earlier, or something sharp.
You can get 8 equal pieces by cutting EVERY PIECE IN HALF, 3 TIMES (think about it!)
Once cut, transfer to your cooking sheet.
Normally I cook bread on a stone (pizza stone) but right now I have no oven (don't ask) so, I'm baking in a large toaster oven - which is probably better on electricity anyway and incidentally, makes really good bread.
So I am using a small perforated tin covered with tin foil.
When using a stone, just sprinkle a little flour on the surface to prevent sticking. Any traditional metal pan or cookie sheet (or on tin foil as I'm doing) rub a little butter onto the surface, then sprinkle flour over that. You can see in the second picture above that this creates a layer of flour on the pan.
Once the scones are on the baking tray, sprinkle more sugar across the top to taste (you can see this on the pictures in the next step)
Optionally, you can brush a beaten egg, or even milk across the top before sprinkling the sugar - each will give it's own 'finish' to the scones.
Step 5: Bake
Cook your bread for 10-14 minutes. When making the 'regular' sized scones, the first batch will take a few minutes later than the second, so be careful (because the pan will be hot for the second batch!)
You shouldn't have to butter and flour your pan again between batches, but check your particular pan just in case.
Once cooked, remove from the hot pan immediately. Just transfer to a plate or container.
Always eat one right away. How else will you know what a fantastic job you did? Besides, they are fantastic warm out of the oven
Serving hot out of the oven is the best choice by far, but if it's probably not good for you to eat an entire batch every day, so, simply reheat by either:
- Drop one in the toaster on low - just long enough to heat up. Remove from toaster and add your toppings.
- Spread butter on top of the Scone and stick it in the microwave for about 15 seconds. Take out and let cool for 30 seconds before adding topping.
Some people find these a little dry to eat on their own. But they are fantastic with either butter, or your favourite jam or jelly (or both!)