So I venture into another new field of baking-palooza. Scones. Why? Because it’s International Scone Week, apparently, although my wall calendar doesn’t mention this fact … but then again it doesn’t mention Christmas either … ah heck – where was I? Oh yes, scone week – and because all of my baking buddies seem to be churning out scones, too. Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial made some luscious-looking Lemonade Scones but I have to use sugar-free lemonade because my husband is diabetic. Problematic that; the ingredient used in sugar-free drinks is not suitable for high-heat baking. I discovered this years ago when baking a ham that was basted in Coke.
I found the following recipe for Claridge’s scones, yes, the Claridge Hotel that makes those famous afternoon teas, and thought “Heck. Diet? What diet!” Sometimes you just have to know when to crumble under the pressure of a calorie-packed scone, and that time is now.
For my husband’s benefit, I cut the sugar content in half, and then further reduced it by using some Splenda with half the caster sugar (see note at bottom). The point being that there’s still sugar in it, as I suspect that this recipe requires it for texture (chewiness) and bulk. After tasting the first scone out of the oven, I think I could even cut the sugar more if flavour is the only concern. I’m not sure however whether this will cause the texture to suffer.
In a word, these things are heavenly and scrumptious! Also packed full with calories and saturated fats, so be warned. These are an occasional treat, even though I’d love to eat every last one that I just baked (snurf-snurf!)
And since it’s just my husband and I who eat these, I cut the entire recipe in half. Happily, I can report that it didn’t muck-up the end product. They are light, crumbly, rich, more-ish and sinful.
Claridge’s Afternoon Tea Scones
550 g strong flour, or plain white flour
43 g baking powder
100 g caster sugar
100 g cold butter
187 g double cream
187 g full-fat milk
50 g sultanas
1 egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Sieve the flour and baking powder together into a large bowl, and then add the sugar, mixing thoroughly.
Cut the cold butter into small cubes. Rub the cubes into the dry mix, then make well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Add the cream and milk, and mix. The dough is slightly tacky. Remember to remove your rings if you mix by hand, which I do. Add the sultanas and gently mix, so that they are evenly distributed through the dough.
Cover the dough with cling film and allow to rest for 10 minutes in the fridge.
Roll or press flat by hand the dough to about 1.5cm thickness. Dip a circular pastry cutter or drinking glass into some flour and shake off any excess. This should stop the cutter sticking to the scone, but it didn’t work for me. It still stuck. Give the cutter/glass a thump against the side of your hand to release the dough on to the baking sheet. Cut out the scones, and then lightly rework the dough and cut out as many rounds as possible, each time reworking the dough until it’s used up.
Brush the tops with egg using a pastry brush, ensuring that you don’t wash the sides of the scone as this causes them to rise unevenly. Then place them in the fridge for 20 minutes. Brush them one more time just before baking.
Bake for 10-12 minutes in the centre of the oven.
Recipe provided by Claridge’s London to uktv.co.uk
Note: I made half the recipe, which produced about 8×4” scones. I reduced the overall sugar content by using 25g caster sugar and 1 tablespoon Splenda granulated. I think it’s possible to reduce the sugar even more without jeopardising flavour (not sure what will happen to texture though). I also might try adding a pinch of salt next time.
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