Sunday, 5 February 2012

The Noble Art of making Drop Scones


Drop scones are an absolute favourite of mine. I have such lovely fond memories of making them when I was a child with my mother, with one of those now very rare beasts, a proper cast iron griddle. The kind of thing so solid that should you brain someone over the head with it (if you've managed to pick it up and swing it in the first place) that they will most certainly not survive the encounter. My beloved mother has assured me that she will leave it to me in her will.

And everyone has their own way of making them. Some put raisins in them, others lemon, some have them with jam or syrup, and some scottish folk I have met use them as part of a fried breakfast to mop up all the runny egg and tomato that's running around the plate. Personally, I like them warm or even cold with a smear of butter on, just as I had them as a child.

I am sure everyone who has ever made them knows, there is no art to the recipe of these little delights, the art comes in the cooking. Especially as we no longer have the old fashioned cast iron griddles to hand as we used to. However, with some trial and error, I am back making them once again. And here is my tried and tested batter mix:

4 oz of self raising flour
2 oz sugar
1 egg
just enough milk to make a thick batter. 
blend together

Now here comes the trial and error. Do NOT think you can get away with adding baking powder to plain flour as a substitute for self raising. It does NOT work. What I wound up with when I tried it was inedible. So don't go there. 

Purists like my Grandmother would swear that it is impossible to make good drop scones without an old fashioned griddle. She would grudgingly admit it might just be possible with a heavy based saucepan. Its a myth, once you get the feel for it, you can make them in any pan you like. I have moved to making them in my cheap as chips IKEA non stick we picked up because they were on sale. Admittedly it would be easier if the pan bottom was completely flat, but it works just fine with some practice. 

A note if using nonstick. You will still want oil in the pan - oil, not butter, I use sunflower, but the bare minimum. I find a little on a piece of kitchen towel wiped around the pan periodically does the job nicely. And a good sized spoon for dropping your batter into your hot pan is a must. Which reminds me, I really need to buy some proper tablespoons instead of using the measuring spoon set that came in a Christmas cracker. Functional, but not quite cricket...

One discovery for me also came with trying to use up whatever was in the house. And it occurred to me that one challenge of getting a smooth batter with so little liquid in it, is the size of the sugar granules. And I had a box of icing sugar in the cupboard and I wasn't icing anything for the foreseeable future... makes for great drop scone batter I can tell you.

Other than that its just a case of getting the temperature of the pan right, which is purely a case of practise, and flipping your scones to the second side when there are lots of bubbles at the top. So go, have fun, and what do you like to have your drop scones with?

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