Saturday, 31 March 2012

Farmhouse Fruited Scones

In our house, this is called "spotty dog" (because the sultanas in it make it spotty!) and we normally eat it for brunch or breakfast at the weekends. I made it today for everyone to enjoy for a late breakfast after we had shopped at the supermarket, and we all agreed it is definitely best eaten warm, straight from the oven (butter and jam are optional!). I normally make this in one big scone and divide it into wedges, but you can also cut it into individual portions before you bake it, in which case you will need to shorten the cooking time a little.

To make this big scone you will need (this is a Taste of Home recipe, of course!) ...

3/4 cup dried currants or raisins (I use sultanas, as they are bigger and juicier)
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
5 tablespoons cold butter
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream (I didn't have any today - to make your own sour cream, take the same quantity of milk, and add 1 teaspoon lemon juice to it)
2 egg yolks
(I also added to these ingredients half a teaspoon mixed spice, as my family prefers the spicier flavour

For the glaze ...
1 egg white
1 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon (again, I used mixed spice instead, otherwise they taste a bit too "Christmassy").

Start by putting the dried fruit you have chosen to use in a heatproof bowl, and covering them with boiled water. Leave to soak whilse you prepare the next stage.

Sift the flour then add to this the sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda and spice if using.

Cut in the butter, then rub into the flour until the mixture resembles rough breadcrumbs.

Mix the 2 egg yolks into the sour cream (you could also use buttermilk or yogurt in place of this), and then stir into the flour mixture.

Blend gently, then add the drained, soaked fruit (drain well so there is no extra moisture).

Knead the dough gently just a few times (I do this whilse it is still in the bowl I mixed it in).

Take a greased baking tray and shape the dough on the tray into a large flat round about 1/2 inch thick. Alternatively, you can cut it into individual shapes. If you do as I do and make one large round, score it into eighths with a sharp knife (but don't cut all the way through). The recipe says it serves 16, but, well, in our family it doesn't ... 8 pieces is plenty!

Make the glaze by gently beating the egg white, then in a separate bowl mix the sugar and spice together.

Use a pastry brush to cover the scone pieces with the egg white, then sprinkle with the sugar mix. Sometimes I don't bother with the glaze, and go for a rougher look (as above). Other times I smooth the dough out quite well and glaze it, often using double the amount of sugar and spice mix recommended!

Bake in a hot oven for about 18 minutes (as one big round, this takes about 25 - 30 minutes in our fan assisted oven). About halfway through, I usually cover it with foil to prevent the top from browning too quickly.

Cool on the baking tray for 10 minutes before removing to a rack to finish cooling (if you can wait that long!).

These are also delicious made with other types of dried fruit, such as blueberries, sour cherries, apple or apricot. Where we come from, this recipe, cut in the same wedge shapes, is sometimes cooked on a griddle instead of baked in an oven, and is known as "singin' hinnies" because of the noise the scones make as they cook (you are suppose to grease the griddle with lard, but I normally use butter though I am not sure it is much healthier)! If I am making these, I usually use the traditional ingredients of mixed dried fruit of the sort sold to make Christmas cakes instead of just sultanas. Papa Bear LOVES singin' hinnies with lots of butter - and I've promised to make them for him as a treat for breakfast next week on Easter Sunday!