Tiptoe......................peeking through the gate


 Southern  Hospitality

A Lovely Scone






                                                              Scones and Tea


                                                  (with apologies to my late father, who surely taught me
                                                  that you cannot love a thing that cannot love you back)


                                                               Scones, how do I love thee?

                                                                  Let me count the ways

                                                  I love thee split open with a silver butter knife,

warm and flaky, spread with silky lemon curd

  or blackberry jam

          or strawberry preserves and clotted cream

          or with nothing but a skim of butter and rock sugar atop.

         I also love thee cut into rectangles

          and rolled hot from the oven in melted butter and cinnamon sugar

          or cut into alphabet letters and served to children.


So, enough of the bad poetry. Let's get to the recipe!


A Lovely Scone

Set the oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, mix 2 cups of white flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cut in with a pastry blender or two knives 1 stick of cold unsalted butter until the butter lumps are the size of small peas. (A food processor works fine here, too. Just pulse a few times.) Add 3/4-7/8 c. cold milk. 

Here's the important part: Cut gently through the flour with your spoon and fold the mixture over. Do not stir! Stirring develops the gluten and creates tunnels. (You can also use a fork to just push the wet and the dry together, but, again, do not stir!) Cut and fold a number of times until most of the flour is absorbed.

Pop the bowl into the refrigerator and let the mixture sit for ten minutes while the flour absorbs the liquid. If the dough still looks too sticky, add a bit more flour and cut and fold or push, depending on whether you are using a spoon or fork.

Now turn the dough onto a well-floured surface, sprinkle more flour on top and pat it into a square about 1-1/2" thick. (So advised my mother-in-law, and I found she was right. A thick square will yield tall scones nice for splitting.) Dip your cutter into a cup of flour before cutting each scone to keep the dough from sticking to the cutter. Or, cut into four squares (dip the knife in flour before and after cutting) and then slice each square on the diagonal to create 8 triangular scones.

Place the scones on a lightly greased baking sheet and brush with melted butter. Sprinkle rock sugar on top if you like, and bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes, until "rosy" (again, my mother-in-law's directive, which means "golden brown").  If you are using a dark baking sheet, cut the temperature to 375 degrees. If the scones are not rosy after 15 minutes, turn on the broiler and broil for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Watch carefully to avoid burning.

Remove the hot scones to a cooling rack and let sit for 3-5 minutes before serving. Then, split and enjoy with a cup of tea, around 4 p.m. Or any time you like.


For sweet scones, increase the sugar to 1/2 cup and add 4 T lemon zest and 3 T poppyseeds; or add 2/3 cup craisins and 1/3 cup chopped pecans; or add 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips; or 1 cup Maine wild blueberries and sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top.

For savory scones, add 1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese and 1/2  cup diced ham and 3 sliced scallions (white part only).