I found the perfect buttermilk scones recipe in my new Ultimate Snowflake Collection recipe book, written by Heilie Pienaar. I found the details to order the book here.
My aunts and cousins were coming for morning tea and I had to make these scones, praying they would turn out right. I doubled the ingredients mentioned below, and they were hot and ready to serve within 45 minutes of starting.
These buttermilk scones are everything a scone should be; buttery yet light and fluffy with a tender crumb and perfect with fresh whipped or clotted cream and jam or sharp cheddar cheese. I could hear my mother’s voice saying ‘you know they are good when you see the split’.
As a teenager I was useless at making scones and they were never quite as light or fluffy in texture as my mother or her friend, Aunty Merle’s. Or as buttery as Mummy Rachel’s.
My mother said my hands were too warm, but I suspect I was just too heavy handed. I remember watching her make scones, always a quick fix when unexpected guests showed up, and we had nothing special to serve them with tea. She had the lightest touch with delicate handling of the dough and her advice with making scones was always ‘be gentle with the dough and use your hands to flatten it’.
I tried making Aunty Merle’s scones many years ago, using the recipe she gave me, but it never tasted quite like hers. Similarly with Mummy Rachel’s recipe, mine turned out strangely misshapen and too crumbly.
Since moving to Dubai, scones have been far and few between on an afternoon tea menu, and on the odd occasion that I have tried one in the past few years they have been no more than miserable lumps of lead. The exceptions being the scones with lemon curd at Aspen Café, at Kempinski Mall of the Emirates, and once at the Myatt Café in the Waterfront, Cape Town. This is not a paid endorsement, just so you know.
Perfect buttermilk scones
- 280 grams cake flour (sifted)
- 15 ml baking powder
- 2.5 ml salt
- 125 grams cold butter (cut into 1 cm squares)
- 30 ml castor sugar
- 1 extra large egg
- 100 ml buttermilk
- 15 ml cream
- 1 egg (beaten for glazing)
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius or 180 degrees with a fan assisted oven / 400 F / Gas mark 6.
- Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and add the salt.
- Use your fingertips or a pastry knife to rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs, then add the sugar.
- Whisk the egg, buttermilk and cream together until combined.
- Make a well in the middle of the flour and pour in the half the egg and buttermilk mixture.
- Cut the flour into the liquid with the pastry cutter or your hands, without over mixing and add the rest of the liquid to form a soft dough.
- Bring together any flour left around the edges of the bowl and the dough out onto the lightly floured surface.
- Press the dough together lightly until it has a level surface and is about 2 cm thick.
- Use a smooth edged cookie cutter to cut out rounds. I used a 7cm one but you can use smaller for a bite sized version.
- Place on a baking sheet and brush with egg, making sure to keep it on the top as it will prevent even rising if it is brushed on the sides.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes until done.
- Serve with whipped or clotted cream and jam, or cheese.
Nutritional information for the recipe is an approximation and varies according to the ingredients and products used.