Classic Scones

What in the world has taken me so long? That is a question I'll never have the answer to. I finally got around to making classic, British style scones. I mean, I've made scones before (see here and here), but never these true classic scones.
For some reason, I always thought they require much more effort - yeast, rising time, chilling time. But nope, none of the above is true. Dare I may say it, these were actually the simplest and quickest scones I've made. And they turned out just perfect. Rich and buttery with just the right level of denseness and crumb (not flaky like a croissant nor overly dense like a cake), these scones are best served warm, sliced in half, with hearty lashings of cream and jam (strawberry is my favorite here). 

I made these one morning for a great breakfast accompanied by lots and lots of summer fruit, and cups of tea/chilled glasses of milk! I used cranberries instead of the classic black raisins for a couple of reasons: 1) I wanted to switch it up a bit, 2) I'm not the biggest raisin fan and 3) We didn't actually have any black raisins on hand. I personally loved this change, but feel free to use raisins, or nothing at all.
On another note, I'm going on a dinner date with my sister tonight and I can't wait. I love spending quality time with her, and what better than over oodles of good food?

Makes 6 large(ish) scones
2 cups self-raising flour
pinch of salt
45-50g butter, chilled
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
3-4 tbsp buttermilk, plus a little extra for brushing
1/3 cup chopped dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 200 C and line a large baking tray with baking paper. Set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together flour and salt. Add the butter in small pea-sized chunks and use a fork/your fingers/a pastry cutter to mix the butter into the flour until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add sugar and cranberries to the dry mixture.

In a cup, beat together the egg with 2 tbsp of the buttermilk and add this mixture to the dry ingredients. Mix gently.

Add more buttermilk a teaspoon at a time, until the dough starts to come together. Definitely use your hands because it will be ready before you think if you continue using a utensil! The dough should be soft, but not the slightest bit sticky. If it is, add in a dash more flour.

Form the dough into a ball and dump it onto a lightly floured surface. Using your fingers, gently pat it into a circle at least 1 inch thick.

Using a cookie cutter, cut out the scones. Try not to twist the cookie cutter as you pull it out as this will prevent the scones from rising well. Repeat until you are left with the trimmings. Bring these together to form the last scone.

Place the scones on the baking sheet and very lightly brush them with buttermilk. Bake for 13-17 minutes, or until well risen and golden brown.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Serve warm with clotted cream and jam. Enjoy!


Honey Almond Pear Cake

Pears are so underrated. I won't lie and pretend I'm not guilty. I too, often overlook the power and punch that a simple (or not) pear can punch. They're almost always available (like bananas and apples) and are at their peak during fall. Yet, they're one of the last fruits I tend to pick up at the grocery store.

I don't necessarily love eating them as is, but in baked treats, they are so good. Depending on the method, they get all caramelized and crispy, gooey and sweet or tart and crunchy. They're always my fallback if we don't have much fruit at home and unripe bananas off the shelves just won't cut it. MY favorite variety of pears to use is English conference pears, as they're generally ripe straight from the pack and it means I can bake when I want (and need) to!

Moving on to this cake - the first time I made it, it was slightly dry and could have definitely used more sweetness, so I tweaked the recipe and it's definitely much more to my taste now! I wouldn't recommend decreasing the coconut oil, but depending on how sweet or not you like your treats, I would increase or decrease the honey content. Feel free to sub with maple syrup or agave, but remember the flavor will defer slightly depending on which sweetener you choose.

No matter what you do, however, this cake will turn out luscious. Crusty on the bottom, moist inside and best of all, crusty-nutty-gooey on top (where the pears and almond slices are!).

1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 tsp ground cardamom (or cinnamon or nutmeg)
pinch of salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 tsp almond extract
1/3 cup coconut oil
2/3 cup yogurt
1 1/2 pears, sliced
sliced blanched almonds, for topping

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Grease and flour a round cake pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom and salt.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the vanilla until pale and frothy. Add the coconut oil, honey, yogurt, vanilla and almond extracts and beat again.

Add the dry mix to the wet mixture and stir until just combined.

Pour the batter into the cake pan, arrange pear slices on top and sprinkle with the sliced almonds.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out with a few tiny crumbs sticking on. It will continue to cook slightly as it cools, and you definitely don't want dry cake!

Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Serve warm, drizzled with some thick honey (if you're feeling indulgent!). Enjoy!