It's a tale of two ladies & two truths. Today they demolished my Grandmother’s house. Making way for a modern one to be built. Fortunately the land remains in our family. But it was one of the last standing original shacks in our beachside town. A sad day indeed, only made bearable by paying tribute to my Granny with a batch of her beloved special light scones and a hot cuppa. With Lemon butter and freshly whipped Chantilly cream. Plenty of sifted icing sugar & vanilla added to the cream.
Ingredients - 450 grams self raising flour ❤ 30 grams icing sugar ❤ 2 heaped tablespoons butter at room temperature (80-90grams) ❤ 1 cup of buttermilk (approx. 250ml) OR 1 cup of full cream milk soured with a squeeze of lemon - makes about 20 small or about 15 large scones
Method + Top Tips - Preheat oven to hot 220°C (425°F)
Organisation is everything when baking scones, when baking anything at all. But especially scones. You must work lightly and quickly, so have everything on hand ready to go. Grease a flat scone tray or any flat baking tray without sides. Get your pastry brush and scone cutter handy. Flour your bench or pastry sheet ready for kneading the scone dough. Get your extra milk ready in a cup for brushing tops. Do these steps now and you’ll be a dab hand Aussie country scone cook, serving them up and whoofing them down in 20 minutes. Scones are a simple staple in your baking classics to master and enjoy.
Sift the flour & icing sugar together three times, with a pinch of salt added. Lightly rub in butter with your fingertips. Make a well in centre & pour all the milk in at once & mix quickly with a knife. Mixture will come together & should be a moist dough. Turn out onto a floured board/bench-top and knead very lightly before pressing or rolling out. Make the dough about 3 cm/just over 1inch thick with your floured hand. Brush tops with milk & place in oven immediately. Bake for about 15 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool wrapped in towel on a wire tray.
Buttermilk is excellent for mixing scones. Once upon a time scones were only made when milk was starting to sour and needed using up. But nowadays a squeeze of lemon juice or ½ teaspoon of bicarb soda to each cup of milk really does the trick. A beaten egg yolk into the milk with a pinch of sugar makes them even richer & very light. Use just a scant cup of milk (e.g 230ml) if adding egg yolk to your mixture
Always mix scone dough with a knife & be super quick getting them into the oven. I mostly make generous sized ones (cafe habit), cutting them with an old crystal whisky glass, left on the kitchen shelf just for this purpose. Small ones are lovely too. Store bought scone cutters come in lots of sizes. If you slightly twist, rather than pushing straight down when cutting them you’ll find they rise even higher. Wrap your precious bundle inside the loveliest linen tea towel in your drawer as soon as they come out, resting on a wire tray.
Last word (I promise!) on scones, you can add a little apple & cinnamon (the batch pictured bottom), ginger, sultanas or currants, even pumpkin to this recipe. 100g of grated mature cheddar to dry ingredients is yum too. Substitute the milk for water though if using cheese. Most often I leave them plain Jane & serve with lemon butter or homemade jam - displayed on my Mum's best $25 garage sale silver (what a treasure!) with a cutting from the garden.
Currumbin Beach 1925 Courtesy of Queensland State Library Archive
Why is it we turn to tradition in times of change? Comfort I guess, like the food itself. Am I admitting already in my 1st Posting that I am a comfort eater?! Yup. I believe we all find solace in good food.
My 1st ever Cookbook was The Schauer Australian Cookery Book, published in 1909. Along with Miss Amy Schauer’s Fruit Preserving and Confectionary Book (1908). My Grandma gave it to me 74 years later in 1983. I was fourteen at the time. Now I’ve gone and admitted my 2nd truth haven’t it. Well, Amy Schauer would have been 112. Plenty of her stories and inspiration to come. She really was Australia’s 1st lady of Cuisine. Many Australian women from this era, particularly in Queensland, passed on a cherished copy of her cookery book to their daughters and granddaughters. Online shopping now ensures vintage copies still circulate to the highest bidder. And I hope and wait for a New Edition to be released one day.
It is this iconic book and the passion of these two very special ladies that inspires me to blog my own adventures in food and travel. I hope by sharing with you my favourite recipes and stories you will feel inspired to recreate and rediscover the great sophistication in simplicity.
Right now is a very exciting time in Australian kitchens. Young Australians and foodies all around the world have never been more stimulated by Australia's dynamic multicultural cuisine. Whether homecook, farmer, baker or qualified chef, Australian culinary skills and our magnificent produce command respect. After all the dishes are done, we really are 'the lucky country' in so many ways.