Scones, slow and easy

I always wondered why the old and doddery (mums, grans, etc.) always made better scones than I did. Then I started to get older and almost doddery and slower and wiser (the accumulated drip of experience) and started applying those fragments of age to making scones.

Guess what. Now I make scones like the old and etc. Why?

Only one answer to that. I’m doing it more slowly. Start thinking back through those accumulated drips. When you’re at your peak, taking screamers, hitting the golfball 220 metres, cutting square off middle stump, life is hardly slow. You’re flamboyant, cocky, your eyes dart, you’re impatient, seeking, trying on, looking for quick gratification.

Then the ageing begins. You play from in front, looking for frees, you approach the par fours as par fives, and you play back to the bowler when it’s on the stumps. So it is with scones. Do it slowly, do it methodically, do it gently, and you’ll be amazed at the lightness of the heart, the crispness of the crust. They say, as well, that good scone makers are good in bed. I wonder …

You can make double this mix. Scones freeze beautifully, and I always reckon one load of washing up makes up triply for the slightly increased labour. And, with frozen scones in the freezer, you can toss one into the microwave at any time of day and night, and you will have steaming scones in 20 seconds flat. This batch will make about 2 dozen small, wimpy scones, and about 15 tough guys.

½ teaspoon baking powder (for security)

½ teaspoon salt

300g self-raising flour, sifted

plenty of sultanas, or currants, or raisins

150g cold butter, cut into cubes

1 cup (and a bit) milk

sugar, if you wish

1 egg yolk, beaten, and a little milk, mixed together


Mix the baking power and salt into the flour, and add the sultanas etc.


With your fingers, work the butter into the flour. It should be slightly on the crumby side, a bit like the result you would get on the way to a crumble.


Work in the milk gently, bit by bit, mixing it through with a fork. The mixture will gradually form into a dough, but will still be quite sticky. When it has come together well enough to work into a mass, stop adding the milk,and pat it with a bit more flour on your hands.


Flour a bench and remove the dough from the bowl. Cut the dough into two, and work each gently into a long thick sausage, pushing gently into shape rather than kneading. Flatten so the dough is about 5 cm thick. Make sure it is at least this thick. The last thing you want is wimpy scones. Give them size, and guts. Heat the oven to 200°C.


Slice into scones, and place gently on a greased baking tray. Brush the tops with the egg-milk wash and bake for 20 minutes, or until the kitchen takes on the tell-tale aroma of generations. Serve any way you like. Who needs to be told how to eat scones?