Saturday 28 June 2014

Old fashioned scones

Old fashioned scones and home grown strawberries

Last year we went to the Isle of Wight for our holiday. I love everything about the Isle of Wight and we are frequent visitors. One place I hadn't been to for a while (as in about 20 years) was Calbourne Water Mill. It is quite a delightful place. The water mill is still working and they mill flour which you can buy in the shop. If you make your way through the peacocks and peahens at the back of the mill there are various buildings housing a wartime exhibition, a fire engine and a household domestic items museum.
Peacocks and peahens at Calbourne Mill
Above a row of old ovens there's some copies of hand-written recipes. There's no explanation with them so I don't know where they have come from, who has written them out or indeed how old they are. I liked the look of them and so obviously took some photographs of them. After tall the old recipes are the best aren't they and I must have uncovered a rare gem. Such is the modern day fashion I never looked at them again until I thought of this month's Love Cake theme of Vintage.
Love Cake logo

The recipe seems to be for 'Frish scones' rather fresh ones. I don't know whether that is just bad spelling or a particular term given to this type of scone. There's no specific flour stated but with the addition of the cream of tartar and bicarbonate of soda I decided to use plain flour. I've never used cream of tartar before and was quite surprised to find it's sold in silly little pre-measured sachets. I usually add some caster sugar when I make scones but there's mention of anything sweet in this recipe. It made wonder if at this time sugar was in short supply.

Usually when making a dough I rub the butter into the full amount of flour. In this method you rub the butter into half of the flour first before sifting in the rest of the ingredients. Due to the way the recipe is written I sifted the flour, cream of tartar and bicarbonate of soda. It wasn't until the scones were in the oven that I realised I had completely missed out the salt. So scones without salt or sugar...

To make it into a dough you need to add the milk and egg mixture to the dry ingredients. I stirred and I stirred and still no dough. Instead it looked like a batter mixture. I did think ½ pint of liquid seemed a lot and even checked back to make sure this is what it said and not ¼ pint. At this point I had two options – chuck the lot and start again or risk wasting more ingredients by trying to salvage it. Not being able to throw away a bowl of ingredients I added more flour and some more cream of tartar and bicarbonate of soda. It came together as a dough, albeit a very sticky one. I transferred it onto a very well floured board and lightly rolled it out. I went for a fairly small cutter as the recipe says these cook in just 10 minutes (needed more) and took an educated guess at the temperature.

I was quite relieved when they came out of the oven well-risen. Would they pass the taste test though? I have to admit they are rather plain however if you are looking for a sugar and salt free scone then these are ones for you. After all sugar it seems is now the one food that is going to be responsible for the fall in civilisation as we know it. All this can be rectified by the addition of your choice of butter, jam, cream, strawberries and since they are plain savoury toppings.

Equipment: Sieve, rolling pin, cutter about 6cm (2¼ins) greased/lined baking tray.

12oz (340g) Plain flour plus extra for dusting while rolling out
1oz (28g) Unsalted butter
1tsp (5ml) Cream of tartar
1tsp (5ml) Bicarbonate of soda
1 Large egg
Milk – enough to make up to ½ pint with the egg plus extra for brushing the tops


1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/ Gas mark 6.
2. In a large bowl measure out 4oz (115g) of the flour and rub in the butter.
3. Sift in the rest of the flour along with the cream of tartar and bicarbonate of soda and stir together.
4. Crack the egg into a measuring jug, beat lightly and then add enough milk to to make up to ½ pint (300ml).
5. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir together until it comes together as a sticky dough.
6. Transfer to a dusted board and very lightly roll out to about ½ inch (1.25cm). Cut out rounds and then re-roll as necessary.
7. Put the scones onto the prepared baking sheet leaving a small gap between each one. You may need to cook them in a couple of batches. Brush the top of each one with milk and cook for around 13 minutes.
8. Once baked the tops should be golden brown. Leave to cool on a wire rack.


  1. These look amazing! Everytime I have made scones, they have turned out like biscuits and not very nice at all. x

    1. The secret is to roll the dough out lightly. If you press down like you are rolling out pastry they will go biscuit like.

  2. These look really nice. I love making scones but I must admit I wouldn't omit sugar unless making for my babies. A great baby led weaning recipe though!

    1. That's why you need some strawberries with them! May have added some jam for the second tasting...

  3. nom nom nom! This would be a great recipe for little ones without the salt and sugar. Scones is the one thing I can bake successfully.

    1. They are certainly better than rusks! Once they are cut in half they would be just the right size for little hands to hold.

  4. What a wonderfully quirky recipe..... which I am sure in its time was quite a treat! Well done for rescuing half way through...... I can't bear to throw anything away either! Looks like they came out really well and I guess the beauty of no sugar is that you can top them with savoury stuff too!! Yum!

    1. I kept looking at the bowl thinking it would be criminal to throw it away! They are really nice topped with some cheese and popped under the grill.


I appreciate your comments. If you have any tips, tricks or tweaks please pass them on!