Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Nigella's Scones

Nigella's Scones
Home Cooking

I hadn't baked anything in a while. It's not a great feeling because I find delight in baking. To break my baking drought, I decided on something really easy to get the skills in check.

Scones are not new to this blog. I should probably have a special category just for scones. Oh wait, I do :D.

Vegetable shortening

The recipe I went for is from Nigella Lawson's "How to be a Domestic Goddess". It is one of my favorite cookbooks and trust me, I own a lot. Her recipe is titled 'Lilly's scones' and I chose it because of its use of vegetable shortening. For some reason, I had vegetable shortening in the fridge, completely unopened so I thought 'Yes! Finally I can use it for something'.

I made the full quantity of scones so the recipe is exact from the book.

Lily's Scones from Nigella Lawson's "How to be a Domestic Goddess"

Makes 12 scones

  • 3 and 1/3 cup plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 4 and 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 tbsp vegetable shortening, in teaspooned lumps
  • 1 and 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 large egg, beaten for egg-wash

1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius.
2. Sift the flour, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar into a large bowl.
3. Rub in the fats till the mixture goes like damp sand.4. Add the milk all at once, mix briefly (be careful not to over mix) and then turn out onto a floured surface and knead lightly to form a dough.5. Roll out to about 2.5cm to 3cm thickness. Dip the cutter into some flour, then stamp out at least 10 scones. You get 12 in all from this, but may need to reroll for the last 2 (I actually made 16).6. Place on the baking sheet very close together – the idea is that they bulge and stick together on cooking
7. Brush the tops with the egg wash. Put in the oven and cook for 10 minutes or until risen and golden.8. Always eat freshly baked, preferably still warm from the oven, with clotted cream and jam.

I might just be reporting my first baking failure in a long, long time. Normally I don't even bother blogging them but these looked OK, just tasted poorly. I followed the recipe quite precisely so I'm not sure what went wrong.

  1. The scones didn't rise much
  2. They had a really awful sour flavor that was impossible to ignore
  3. The texture was more bread-like than scone like
Scone texture (doesn't look so bad on camera)

I admit that I didn't use a proper measuring teaspoon but from my experience in baking scones, they are usually not THAT picky about quantities. I have baked many successful batches without measurements, instead feeling for the correct consistency.

A few theories:
  1. I may have put too much cream of tartar
  2. Not enough baking powder?
  3. Didn't bake for long enough
  4. Instead of putting the circles of scone batter in the formation I used (see pics above to know what I mean), I should have fitted each subsequent row into the gaps from the above row so that they bunched better
In any case, these scones were bordering on inedible. I did a Google search to see if I was alone in my failure and apparently, I am! Everyone else reports that these scones are worth the effort so... sorry guys, I don't know.

My scone pudding creation

I ended up salvaging my poorly creation by using them in a impromptu bread and butter style pudding. I beat together some egg, milk and sugar and poured it over some scone halves that were covered in jam. This was baked in an oven until bubbling and set. I poured over some homemade custard too. As inedible as the scones were on their own, they were quite delicious in pudding form. The moral of the story? A bit of creativity allows you to get away with certain disasters.


  1. Wow, I feel like I'm spamming all of your posts with my comments! :)

    When I clicked on your "scones & slices" category, the link didn't seem to work for me so I don't know what other scones you've made (although I suspect I may've bookmarked some of them!). My favourite scone recipe is this simple one from the Paul's milk website for Buttermilk Scones (and their Pumpkin Scones recipe turns out nicely too, although I usually add more pumpkin and more sugar).

    I have no opinion on the sour taste (but personally I don't like vegetable shortening, so I would probably blame it!) but as far as rising goes, I think it would've been better to have them totally touching. Nigella's recipe says to "stamp" out the scones (and the Paul's one I linked to says not to turn the cutter) - and it looks like you did this? Apparently turning the cutter forms a seal around the outside, making them harder to rise, so if you didn't stamp, that may also have been a problem.

    I have a "technique" that eliminates these problems! :) Instead of cutting out pretty round scones, I just leave the dough in a big slab and gently score it a few times both ways - making square or rectangular scones. Perhaps not very pretty, but always pretty tasty!

  2. Hi Lara...

    Thanks so much for telling me about the broken link! It must've been like that since I set-up that link tree and noone's told me before hahah. I've fixed it now though so hopefully if you've missed any scone posts, they're there. I used to bake scones all the time just spontaneously. I find I have better luck when I don't follow a recipe and just go by feel.

    My lazy 'go to' scone in the past was something like crumbling together a bit of butter and self-raising flour and then adding coconut milk until it formed a sticky dough. My good scone doughs were always too wet to be cut/stamped but I'd blob them onto baking paper and in the oven... they always turned out great. A bit like crumbly, slightly sticky and moist short cakes.

    I have less success with the solid dough that needs to be rolled out and stamped though I didn't know that trick about not rolling the cutter. Thanks for the info anyway. (Craving scones now)

  3. I just made these and they were inedible. They looked great but we're remarkably bitter!! I think 4.5 teaspoons of cream of tartar is too much!