Devon (British-style) scones

Having a jar of homemade strawberry jam on hand was the perfect reason to bake up a batch of scones.  It gave me an excuse to try my hand at British-style scones and I made a British-themed breakfast out of it; I love a good theme to a meal!
For a while now, I've been intrigued with the idea of baking up a different kind of scone.  Now, I speak with no authority whatsoever on this - having never had the pleasure of sitting down to a proper tea in the U.K. - but it is my understanding that British style scones are very different from American ones.

Cook's Illustrated has an excellent article that outlines the difference between the two. To sum up, British-style scones use less butter, are more cake-like, on the more light & fluffy side, and are less sweet than American-styles scones. American scones are more buttery, flaky, and biscuit-like.  While American-style scones often incorporate all kinds of add-ins (from fruit to chocolate chips), British scones are generally plain or simply include currants or raisins.
It's not to say that one type of scone is better than the other; they're just different. And for me, different is good; there's a time and place for everything.  British scones aren't necessarily "better" or more virtuous simply because they're lighter. There's actually a reason for the restrained use of butter...British-style scones are meant to be split open and topped with an ample slathering of butter, jam, cream (clotted or otherwise), and/or other equally tantalizing things like honey or golden syrup.  I can remember watching Nigella Lawson eating a scone in such a way on one of her television programs, and being totally mesmerized.
British-style scones are more cake-like, lighter, and crumbly in texture than American ones
When it comes to American-style scones, on the other hand, we rarely need anything to go with it because they are so buttery and flavorful all on their own.  So it's essentially about different philosophies.  Why not try both and enjoy them in their own way?

Today, it's British-style scones.  I used Mary Berry's Devon (or Devonshire) scone recipe.  Are you familiar with Mary Berry?  I came to know of her after I started watching The Great British Bake Off (where amateur bakers take on baking challenges, very often amazing me with their abilities).  
Now is the time to admit, again, that I am really not good at handling dough, as in scone or biscuit making.  I'm pretty sure the dough can sense my fear.  Take a look at the scones above...only one baked up with a fluffy height and, ironically, it came from some re-rolled dough!  It's all a bit of a mystery to me and I just can't seem to get a good handle on it.
Luckily, despite the general lack of height, the scones turned out light and fluffy - definitely more cake-like than we're used to when we think of scones.  They were a great canvas for the homemade strawberry jam, and other things, we decided to spread on.
The "ceremony" of sitting down, splitting our scones, and deciding what we wanted to spread them with was a nice way to slow things down.  I would definitely say our British-themed tea breakfast was a fun hit!


A couple of notes on this recipe...first, it calls for self-rising flour, which I essentially DIY'ed by whisking in 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt for each 1 cup of all-purpose flour.  You will need 1 3/4 cups of this flour for the recipe.
And you know how we're typically instructed to work the butter into the dry ingredients until a "coarse meal" forms, and you see some pea-sized bits remaining?  In the case of British-style scones, you work the (smaller amount of) butter well into the dry ingredients to the texture of breadcrumbs.  In other words, you want a finer consistency and the butter to be well incorporated into the flour.  The "breadcrumb" description is one I saw often.
And the resulting dough...it will be fairly wet and sticky.  I'm used to a dry, often difficult-to-bind-together dough when it comes to American-style scones.  According to Mary Berry, the wet and sticky dough is one of the secrets to a good Devonshire scone, together with not handling the dough too much.  Warnings like that scare me a little, and I almost feel like I under-handled the dough, if that's even possible.
I pressed the dough out to about a 3/4 inch thickness (instead of the instructed 1/2 inch), then cut the scones out using about a 2 1/2 inch round biscuit cutter (I don't have a 2-inch one which seems to pop up a lot).  Try to cut the rounds by pressing the cutter straight down into the dough, without twisting, so they maintain their shape and rise evenly while baking.  Be sure to thoroughly flour the surface you're working on.  Since the dough is rather wet and sticky, they are a bit tricky to remove, as I experienced firsthand.
I have to admit I only got 6 biscuits out of my batch, instead of the 12 I might have expected.  However, I did make the dough a little thicker and cut my scones a bit larger than the original recipe.  I could probably have squeezed another one out of my dough scraps but honestly, I was trying to quit while I was ahead!
I was relieved when the scones proved to be soft, fluffy, and cake-like in the middle, as they are intended to be.  They're also a bit crumbly, too, which you'll notice as you spread your topping onto a split scone.  The mildly sweet flavor is a great base for your jams and other toppings of choice.  
I always love trying something a little different and this was no exception!

Recipe:

Devon Scones 
Adapted from Baking with Mary Berry

- Makes approximately 8-10 two-inch round scones (yield depending on thickness and size of scones) - 

4 tablespoons chilled butter, cubed
1 3/4 cups self-rising flour*
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
About 2/3 cup whole milk, plus more for glazing

For serving: jam and butter, and/or other toppings (honey, cream, Nutella...) you enjoy 

* To make a substitute for self-rising flour: For each 1 cup of all-purpose flour, whisk in 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon baking mat.

Sift flour into a medium-size bowl.  Rub butter into the flour with your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Stir in the sugar.

Break egg into a 1-cup liquid measuring cup.  Add enough milk to reach the 2/3 cup mark.  Beat lightly with a fork to combine.  Add the milk mixture to the bowl and mix with a fork to form a soft dough.  The dough will be on the wet and sticky side.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface that's been dusted with an even coating of flour.  Lightly knead the dough until smooth.  Roll/pat dough until about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick (I prefer the higher, 3/4 inch, thickness), cut into rounds using a 2-inch round pastry cutter.  Press the cutter straight down into the dough, without twisting, to help ensure a more even rise.  Transfer to baking sheet.  Re-roll scrapes once and cut until dough is used up.  Brush tops (not the sides) of the scones with milk.

Bake for about 10 minutes, until risen and golden.  Cool on a wire rack and serve fresh, if possible, with butter and jam.  (Baked scones can be frozen once fully cooled. Allow to thaw for a couple of hours at room temperature and refresh them in a moderate - about 300 degree - oven for about 10 minutes.)




34 comments:

  1. Now I am going to supermarket and get some strawberries because I need to make some jam first! Those scones look fabulous, Monica.

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    1. haha - Tricia certainly got me to get my hands on more strawberries and stir up this jam. So very easy.

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  2. When done well, scones are my favorite morning treat! And British style are the best. These look delicious!

    Sues

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    1. I never knew scones were such a wonderful thing...glad my eyes have been opened in the last few years.

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  3. I've always wondered about the difference between American and British scones. While in Ireland we found the scones to be much like the ones here in your recipe. No fruit, light and cut into rounds. And yes we slathered them with that wonderful Irish butter made from happy cows. These are wonderful and thanks so much for the explanation! Have a great week.

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    1. I started having this vague notion of a difference and now I get it and it really is a matter of how you want to enjoy them. It's all good. Thank you for the jam recipe and the inspiration to make it happen. You're the best! xo

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  4. I've never actually had British style scones but now I want to make some of both and do a taste test side by side! haha any excuse to make scones right?? And some jam!

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    1. Yes, I am always for a taste-test! : )

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  5. Hi Monica, now I'm going to have to make these British scones, they look delicious and like a cross between a english muffin and a biscuit. And I love what you wrote about the ceremony of sitting down and deciding what to top them with, so nice.

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    1. That's so nice of you, Cheri! : ) I do think the 'ceremony' of sitting down and looking around, picking what we should spread out scones with and having a few laughs about it made it all the more fun and delicious. : ) Keep having a great summer!

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  6. I love scones but have never made British scones. They look so good and i love the ritual of splitting and dressing up the scones with ones choice of jam or spread.

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    1. Yes, it is just like a ritual...the best kind that surrounds food and is all in fun and sharing. : )

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  7. Such a fun treat! I would love to wake up to these yummy scones for breakfast! They look so fluffy and delicious! Especially perfect served with your homemade jam!

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    1. We were drinking with our pinkies up (well, I was anyway...) and talking in our British accents. Great fun! ; )

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  8. Oh I love this so much!!I have never made British style scones before, and after seeing how easy and tasty these are — I so want to try them now! And that jam on top is making me drool! AWESOME share, Monica.

    Anu
    http://www.mygingergarlickitchen.com/

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    1. Thanks so much...I highly recommend a British-theme breakfast (or tea) with scones and lots of different spreads and toppings to choose from. : )

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  9. I'm crazy for scones! Love your homemade version. And I want to put that Jam on everything!!!

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    1. These are so right for piling on the jam or whatever you enjoy. : )

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  10. These look perfect to me! Such a great summer recipe.

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    1. Any time is a great time for a scone!

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  11. I love scones. These look so perfect and delicious!

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    1. Thanks - I find them tricky to make but very easy to eat. : )

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  12. Scones are my all-time favourite thing to bake. I make them at least once a week, how very British of me! These look divine.

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    1. Very British and very lovely of you. I'm sure you could give me many lessons on the art of scone making, and I could use it!!

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  13. Monica, your scones look awesome, and you just reminded me that I have not had these for a while...thanks for the recipe and yes, perfect with homemade jam.
    Hope you are having a great week :)

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    1. Great and busy week, thanks Juliana!

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  14. Scones and jam (and cream) is one of the best breakfasts ever! These are the kind of scones we get here in Australia as well. Your home made jam looks so luscious and inviting on the scones...bad idea to open this post before breakfast:-)

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    1. Such a good pastime to sit down with some scones and a cup of tea! : )

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  15. I have no idea that British scones and American scones are different. I have had plenty American ones. Some of these fluffy and cake-like British ones for breakfast will be awesome :)

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    1. It's really interesting, isn't it...I like both! : )

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  16. Your scones look pretty amazing to me! I don't know why I don't bake them more often - I really do love them (both British and American).

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    1. I struggle with scones - can't quite get the hang of it...but it works out well enough for us.

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  17. Obsessed with British food right now (i don't even know why), so the timing couldn't be better. Your scones are absolutely gorgeous! Really want to try these (and i love how easy they are.)

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    1. Far from gorgeous but quite tasty and really good vehicles for all that jam and butter, etc. Hope you are having a great summer!

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