Scones will forever remind me of my first job. It was a little café-come-florists and I was a waitress at age 15, working for £3.50/hour. Alongside countless cappuccinos, lattes and americanos, the most popular order was Cherry Scones.
I learnt a lot from that first job. Mostly that I was a terrible waitress, something I vowed to never work as again. I also quit when I got my lip pierced and they gave me an ultimatum of taking it out or not coming back. I chose the latter. But that’s a story for another day!
This café was known for their scones however. Scone and a coffee, an order I would take down numerous times a day, with cherry scones always, always being the favourite. Back then, I preferred a plain scone, or at push a fruit scone. I had grown up being used to giving any glacé cherries on baked goods to my Dad, finding them to be too sweet and chewy. It’s fascinating how tastes can change like that as we grow!
However, when my kids started going to a local softplay on the regular, I found myself opting for my own regular order of a scone and a
coffee diet coke. I’m not sure why I suddenly starting opting for cherry scones, perhaps there was a day when it was all that was available, but I quickly found myself choosing them over any other scone offerings.
I can now say with confidence that cherry scones are my favourite scone by a long shot. Unless it’s fruit scones that Granny has made. Or a cheese scone on a cold day. Although plain scones are good too, especially with lots of butter…
Scones are generally quite dense in texture but there are a few elements in the ingredients that help prevent them from being like biting into a rock. One of those is the raising agents. Self-raising flour already has a raising agent incorporated…as the name would suggest.
As well as the raising agent in the flour, baking powder adds a bit of lift to scones.
Baking powder is a convenient choice as it is a ready-mixed leavening agent, generally made of bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar (usually some cornflour too). In fact, our Fruit Scone Recipe simply uses a combination of bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar, as opposed to baking powder.
In terms of scones, Cherry Scones would fall into the “rich scone” category. Traditionally this would also mean the addition of an egg alongside the sugar, however in this recipe the caster sugar is all that is called for.
Margarine or Butter
In terms of flavour, butter is always king when it comes to baking scones. However, when it comes to texture, a decent block margarine can be just as good. You want your butter/margarine to be cold though, as this will allow you to crumble it into the flour & sugar without it turning to mush; instead you want it to make a sand-like consistency. It is these little “grains” of buttery sand that will melt during baking, leaving a beautiful air-pocketed texture within your scones.
The liquid that brings it all together. You can use whichever milk you prefer, but a full-fat milk produces the richest scones. Dairy-alternative milks also work great in scones, with soya being my personal favourite.
Not a traditional addition for scone recipe purists, however the choice to add yoghurt to your recipe goes beyond taste – more-so, it is science! The acid in the yoghurt reacts with the alkaline in baking powder, causing a chemical reaction. For those like myself who never excelled in chemistry…it basically makes some bubbles in your batter and in turn, an even lighter textured scone.
The choice of yoghurt is yours however. A plain yoghurt is great, as it a soya yoghurt or a coconut yoghurt (what is used in these photos). Generally speaking, you want to use a yoghurt that isn’t too sweet or flavoured.
Common alternatives that can be used in the same way as yoghurt include buttermilk and sour cream.
The star of the show in these Cherry Scones is of course the cherries! Glacé Cherries are favoured in baking due to their sweet taste and candied texture.
Some cakes that involve cherries will call for tossing them in flour to avoid them sinking; don’t worry about this in scones though, they will be coated in the flour when added to the dry ingredients and the dough is not thin enough to allow them to sink during baking anyway.
Granny’s Top Tips
• For great scones you want cold ingredients and a hot oven. Use margarine/butter that is a little cold and ensure you fully pre-heat your oven.
• Try to get as much air into your dough by sifting the dry ingredients from a bit of height and raising your fingers as you rub in the butter.
• Scones require a soft touch so don’t be too rough with your mixing and kneading.
• Put down the rolling pin! Simply stretch out your dough with your hands. And always leave it a little thicker than you think you should.
• When you cut your scones from the dough DO NOT twist your cookie cutter. This will twist the edges of the dough and prevent them from rising as well. And by doing so, you will make Granny want to cry.
• Always leave your scones to rest before baking. This lets the gluten in the flour rest. 10 minutes is ideal but if you can do longer, even better.
• A beaten egg gives the best colour to scones when brushed on top but milk is my personal preference. Just be careful that you don’t let it run down the sides of your scones or it could effect the rise.
- Pre-heat your oven to 220°c (200°c for fan assisted oven or Gas Mark 7). Grease two baking sheets with a little butter and set aside.
- Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a large bowl, holding the sift up to allow some air into them.
- Gently stir in the sugar.
- Using the tips of your fingers, rub in the margarine/butter to the dry ingredients, again lifting as you do to allow air in. Continue until you have a sandy consistency.
- Stir in the cherries and create a well in the middle.
- Whisk the milk and yoghurt together before pouring into the well. Using your hands, gently bring the ingredients together to form a soft, slightly sticky dough.
- Turn out onto a floured work surface and gently knead together, before stretching the dough to about 2cm thickness.
- Using a cookie cutter of your choice, cut your scones out and place them onto your pre-greased baking sheets. The smaller your cutter the more scones you will get. Reform and stretch the dough as required to use all of the dough.
- Leave your scones to rest on the tray for about 10 minutes before brushing the tops with some extra milk.
- Bake in your pre-heated oven for 10 minutes. If you are making smaller scones, keep a close eye on them as you may need to reduce the baking time to suit.
- Once cool enough to touch, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely or enjoy whilst still warm.
Free-from & Vegan
Dairy-free: Simply use a dairy-free milk, yoghurt & margarine for a dairy-free scone.
Nut-free: There are no nuts used in this scone recipe but, as always, be sure to double check your individual ingredients allergens list.
Vegan: As there is no egg in this scone recipe, simply follow the dairy-free tips above. The scones pictured are actually vegan, made with dairy-free margarine, soya milk and coconut yoghurt.