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What I Learned My First Time Making Authentic English Scones

After writing about our time in Devon, England, I became inspired to try my hand at baking scones.  I have never attempted this before, and was a little nervous (especially since I had some pretty dang amazing scones to compare it to from England).

As it turns out, the place where I had the best scone of my life (Watersmeet House) actually published their recipe online.  Here is my experience, including what I learned for the next time I attempt scones.  I hope that this will help you too if you are a scone-baking newbie like myself.

The Watersmeet House recipe can be found here.  The first thing I had to learn was how to convert the ingredients (which differs between dry and liquid quantities) from imperial to metric.  Between what I was able to ask my Google Home (when my hands were covered in flour) and the helpful charts on this Allrecipes UK site page, I made do with scones that at least looked about right.

I did find that I had to cook them longer than the recipe stated to get them as golden-browned as the ones we had in Devon.

I was able to get my hands on some Devon clotted cream at a local tea room (The Steeping Room at the Domain here in Austin), which was a critical component of the experience.  In addition to the clotted cream, I served the scones with black currant jam.

While the scones were certainly OK (good and edible, for sure), and had a nice crumbly texture, it was not close to the scones I had in Devon.  Here are my takeaways that I will use to modify my baking next time.  I have a feeling that creating the perfect scone is an art that needs to be practiced and honed.

  • I am not convinced my conversion ratios were quite right.  
  • I didn't use any fruit (not even raisins to sub for the sultanas in the recipe). 
  • I would not be surprised if I would have different results based on the milk, and possibly even the flour I used, compared with what is used for the scones I ate at Watersmeet House in Devon.
  • By cooking them longer to get a nicer golden-brown color, I may have cooked them too much.
  • I couldn't find baker's or superfine sugar (the US equivalent of the caster sugar the recipe called for) on short notice, so I substituted a mix of granulated sugar with powdered sugar.  I am sure this made a difference, and I will try to find the right kind of sugar next time.
  • Mid-way through I realized that the shape and texture is dependent on not over-working the dough.  The scones from my first roll seems much more authentic than the ones from after I re-rolled the dough to get the last few.  Those ones came out much more like American biscuits (layered, flaky, and less crumbly).  

Do you have experience making authentic British scones?  What are your tips?  Comment below!

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