& the slipper still fits


Hello dear reader! And welcome to the Austen bakery! We're always open, and today our speciality is a fantastic scone. Are scones uniquely Jane Austen-esque? No, but scones are certainly British, and I love making them, grabbing a cup of tea, and reading my favorite parts of Northanger Abbey. And since I know you do too, I thought I'd share one of my favorite recipes.

This recipe was given to me by one of my favorite British boys and he actually made them for me so I would know exactly how to make them the way his mother does. Sweet, right? It was actually one of my favorite baking days and it took us forever to convert the measurements without the Internet handy. Of course, throwing flour at each other took up some time too...

2 cups of flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp shortening
3/4 cup cream or half & half *
1 egg

375 degrees for 15 minutes
Today I made a double batch, which is why everything looks like more in the photos. *I also didn't have any cream or half & half, so I used whole milk and the scones still came out wonderful.

The first thing to do is pre-heat your oven, and then start your dough with cold butter chopped it into very small pieces. You want the butter very cold so that the scones will be flaky, but in small enough pieces that it mixes well with the other ingredients. Then, cut the butter and the shortening together until they are well incorporated. British boy said he'd never heard of Crisco, but if it was shortening it would work. I've always used plain Crisco and it helps to keep the scones moist throughout the week. That is if you can keep them that long. I use an old fashioned pie crust mixer, but using a machine mixture will work just as well. Later, I use a plain old wooden plastic spoon.

Next, I add the sugar and baking powder. More sugar will of course make them sweeter, and I always add a light dusting to the tops of the scones before they cook. So if you don't like vanilla, just put in 2 more tsps of sugar for taste. Baking powder is the key to scones and making sure its well mixed will help make your scones super light and super fluffy. Another key is actually measuring the baking powder properly. Food Network chefs make measuring look so easy, but baking is a science. The right ingredients in the right proportions is absolutely key to getting the ideal result.

And with measuring spoons like these, I don't mind taking and extra second to make sure. Can we take a minute and gush over my silly baking buys? I love buying baking tools. Trust me, there isn't a pastry bag or set of measuring cups I've ever met that I don't like. Aren't they adorable?! They were my souvenir from my first time in Maine. I love that they're sailboats and so beautifully detailed. They make me think of Persuasion and its backdrop of the British Navy. And a fabulous and fun family trip. Okay, now back to baking.

With the butter, shortening, baking powder, and sugar well mixed, I add 1 tbsp of Vanilla (you can of course use almond extract too) and my egg and cream. It is going to look like a soupy mess. You are asking me now, how is this going to make a dough? Don't worry! Make sure you've popped the eggs and mixed the ingredients lightly and start to add the flour. Add 1 cup at a time and mix well. When the dough starts to firm up, poor out of the bowl and hand knead  until it holds together, and no more. Single most important fact: Never over mix/knead scone dough. If you do, the scones will become tough and not rise properly.

For my batch (since it was a double), I cut the dough into 2 parts and rolled them out separately on a floured surface. (As you can see, the dough is a little crumbly. It will firm up as you roll it.) I roll my scones out to about a 1/4 inch thick and let the rolling pin do most of the work. I never apply heavy pressure to a dough when using a rolling pin, I let the weight of the wood and a gentle touch do the work for me. Its a superstition I have: I think any dough rises better when you don't crush it before baking.

Don't worry, after the discussion about my measuring cups, I won't subject you to a discussion about cookie cutters. Most scones are cut like toast points and you don't need a cookie cutter for those, or with a petal-shaped round. I'm basically lazy and don't have a petal-shaped round, so I use I broken 1/3 cup measuring cup to cut my scones. Be very careful when you use your cutter that you only go up and down and don't twist. If you twist, your scones my not rise properly. And flat scones are a sad sight. Also, don't stress about using all the dough. As stated before, the more you knead the dough, the tougher it gets. Re-rolling once to get 2 or 3 more scones is worth it; rolling a third time for what will likely be a brick of a scone -- not so much.

Now the scones are ready for the pan! I place mine wide because they do rise. Once on the pan, I brush them with a little cream (or half & half or milk) and sprinkle sugar and/or cinnamon on top (optional). I love how the scones look with a slightly glossy top. Pop the pans in the oven for 13-15 minutes (mine are perfect at 15) and enjoy right away! I always think scones are better warm, but if stored in an air-tight container, these will last at least 3-4 days and taste fresh. The batch should yield 8-10 scones depending on thickness and cookie cutter size.

You can always add anything you like to the scones. My family just enjoys then plain...well, my brother does actually; and I love them with Nutella. My favorite elaborate version is white chocolate and craisins with almond slivers on top. But no matter what you add, the basic recipe always comes out fabulous. I think they taste a lot like the Starbucks scones you can get will vanilla icing on top, but even better with home-made jam or a healthy dollop of whipped cream.

If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy Austen-esque Ornaments or other craft kit projects.