A few weeks ago, my dad telephoned from America to ask if I had a favourite scone recipe I could share.
You see, where he lives, a scone is a plate-size, golden-fried roll served with honey-butter, syrup, or powdered sugar.
In his neck of the woods, a scone is like a beignet..a sopapilla…a doughnut even. In Ireland they’re nothing of the sort. An Irish scone is a light, moist, baked pastry that falls somewhere between a cake and a well-made muffin.
The differences don’t stop there, however. Irish scones have far less butter and sugar in them. Though, with the salty Irish butter and the sweet raspberry jam we load them up with, this may be a moot point! Also, Irish scones rarely have fancy add-ins: Craisins, chocolate chips, crystallised ginger, for example, just don’t make the cut here. Currants or raisins are about as “crazy” as scones get in Ireland…and even then some people feel those muck up a perfectly plain scone. And finally, Irish scones are never fried or shaped into fussy triangles. What is it about triangle-shaped scones my fellow countrymen/countrywomen like?!
But don’t start thinking there is only one way to make scones in Ireland! There are many, many different ways to make them. For example, in a basic Irish Master Recipe, some bakers will use vegetable oil, others prefer lard, but most use butter. When using butter, there is a debate as to which is better: chilled or room temperature. Milk is nearly always used in making scones, but there are people who swear buttermilk is the only way to go, and there are others still who use cream. And where flour is concerned there are at least three options to choose: self-raising flour (self-rising if you are Stateside); cream flour (All Purpose); and cake flour.
Ok…I have digressed…let me circle back to the beginning…my dad asked me for a scone recipe. Today I am offering him the one below. It is my favourite recipe which makes up the loveliest mixed berry scones. This recipe calls for self-raising flour, milk and chilled butter…in case you’re wondering. It works well if you omit the berries (or substitute them with raisins/currants). And, I suppose, you could change them out for something else…cherries perhaps or lemon rosemary…but why bother? Real Irish scones are simply delicious.
Irish Mixed Berry Scones
Makes about 18-20
For the Scones
900g/2lb/7 1/4 cups self-rising flour
50g/2oz/1/3 cup caster sugar
3 heaped teaspoons baking powder
175g/6oz/12.5 tablespoons butter, chopped & chilled
3 room temperature eggs
450ml/15fl oz/2 cups milk
2 handfuls raspberries, 2 handfuls blueberries or 4 oz raisins or currants
1 egg white, whisked with a fork
2 teaspoons water
granulated sugar for sprinkling
1. Adjust oven rack to the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 230ºC/450ºF.
2. Mix the 1 egg white and 2 teaspoons water together to make an egg wash.
3. Sieve all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
4. Whisk the 3 eggs, add to the milk, and set aside.
5. Rub butter into the flour until it’s well incorporated and the mixture resembles bread crumbs.
6. Add the mixed berries (or raisins/currants) and mix lightly.
7. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and add the milk and eggs. Mix quickly into a soft dough: do not over mix.
8. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead just enough to shape the dough into a circle about 2cm (1 inch) thick.
9. Using a scone cutter (a tall cookie cutter will do), stamp the dough into round scones. Place scones onto an ungreased baking sheet. Brush tops with the egg wash and sprinkle on some sugar.
10. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown on top.
11. Cool on a wire rack.
12. Gather up the remaining dough into another circle and stamp out more round scones until you’ve used up all the dough. Finish as directed above.
Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credits:
* Scones do not keep well for more than a day, but for best results place in an airtight container.
* Read Sarah Kate Gillingham’s article over at thekitchn.com about a trip she took to Ireland where she learned, first-hand, how to make Real Irish Scones.