Whatever you call them, these simple baked treats are very useful on all sorts of occasions. Hot from the oven, dripping with a bit of butter, they’re delicious just as they are. A simple bowl of soup ramps up to a new level when it has a biscuit to accompany it. Add some raisins to the dough and viola, the perfect tidbit for afternoon tea.
Years ago as a baker-in-training at technical college, biscuits were the very first thing we learned to make properly. It seemed like a very odd choice to me back then, but now I see the wisdom in it. Learning the skills you need to produce a batch of tender biscuits (as opposed to hard, dry lumps) lays a great foundation for all baking. It’s a matter of learning what the dough should feel like to produce the best results; how much flour to dust the rolling surface, how much kneading before it’s too much, measuring ingredients accurately.
This recipe makes a very soft dough, so it’s best to keep handling and rolling to a minimum. I like the rustic look of just patting the dough into a rough rectangle and cutting into 12 pieces, plus it’s the quickest way to get them in the oven. When you have more time to fuss, a neat way to bake the biscuits is to roll the dough into a circle and then cut into 12 wedges and roll up as you would for a crescent roll.
3 cups flour
6 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups milk
Stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in the butter and rub till mixture is crumbly. Add the milk and stir to make a soft dough. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead gently just until dough is ready to be rolled. Roll or pat out to about 3/4” and cut shapes as desired. Place biscuits on ungreased baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees F for about 18 minutes. Makes 12 generous scones. For a shiny crust, beat an egg with 3 tbsp water and then brush each biscuit before baking.
The variations are only limited by your imagination. Here are just two:
Buttermilk Scones: reduce baking powder to 3 3/4 tsp and add 3/4 tsp baking soda. The buttermilk makes a heavier biscuit, but adds flavor.
Fruited Scones: stir in a 3/4 cup of raisins or other dried fruit (blueberries, cranberries, etc) that have been rinsed and drained.