Scone o’Clock

These weren’t the first scone cravings I’d ever had, dear me, no.

In fact, as friends and family will confirm, when I returned from cookery school in Ireland last year, Scone o’Clock, was a daily event for me (virtually a pastime, on some days).

I’m able to report, however, that the cravings are becoming far less frequent now and I can virtually make it through an entire fortnight without twitching when I see the jam jar.

My latest lapse can be blamed entirely on my favourite local eaterie, The Green Café, in Ludlow. It’s closed, you see, until the beginning of February, a fact that I had neglected to remember when I attempted (what must have looked like, to all intents and purposes) a break-in, for afternoon tea last Friday.

As a result of their seasonal closure, I was owed (NB: this is how greed works) a lemon buttermilk scone and some darn fine jam. I had the jam (blackcurrant), I just needed to fabricate the rest of the goods.

So fabricate I did.

Now, as you can see, these aren’t your double-in-height-and-split-in-half jobbies. Nope. These are all about breaking into pieces for the fluffy texture inside, which you will then dollop with said excellent jam, and wolf down before starting on another. (Oh yes, you will.)

And before I give you the means to hold your very own, lemon scented, Scone o’Clock, a note of worth: if you can bear to make these just a little smaller (and the aforementioned greed often means that I simply cannot) to make 8 instead of 6, then they will require less time in the oven, thus ensuring that the crunchy topping remains more lemony.

So, here you are:

Lemon Buttermilk Scones – Makes 6 to 8

Plain flour – 225g

Bicarbonate of soda – 1 scant tsp

Cream of tartar – 1 scant tsp

Salt – 1/4 tsp

Butter – 45g

Golden caster sugar – 1tbsp

Buttermilk – 175ml

Lemons – zest of 1

Topping:

Eggs – 1, for egg-wash

Golden granulated sugar – 1 tbsp

Lemons – zest of 1/2

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius (gas mark 6).

First, make the topping. (I say ‘make’…) Mix the lemon zest with the granulated sugar and set aside. Beat the egg ready for the egg wash. (You see?)

Sieve the dry ingredients into a bowl and add the butter, cut into cubes. Using the tips of your fingers, rub together until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the lemon zest.

Pour the buttermilk into the dry ingredients and mix briefly with a fork until they all come together. Tip out gently onto a lightly floured surface and pat gently into a round about 4cm thick. (This dough benefits from very little handling, so don’t, don’t knead it.) Cut into 8 triangles (or 6, if you must) and place, well spaced, on a floured baking tray. Paint each scone with egg wash and sprinkle the sugary zest evenly over the tops.

Place into the preheated oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes (but start checking after 12), until lightly golden. Allow to cool for a matter of minutes, before breaking into pieces, adorning with your chosen accompaniment (I’ve given you my recommendation, but The Green Café serves butter and very good damson jam) and wolfing.

And then wolfing a second.

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