We had a bit of a baking disaster on poor Hungry Hubby’s birthday. The reason I made that jam will not be getting blogged as all I had to show was a “birthday cake” with a burnt outside and completely raw middle. It was just awful and I really felt like I’d let my fuzzy man down. We did celebrate the next evening at a favourite restaurant back home which was just perfect and then we spent the rest of the weekend with my family celebrating three recent birthdays and of course – Easter.
We are the antithesis of religious in my family but we do believe in family and will celebrate the high days and holidays with gusto. Easter Sunday morning I was (as always) the first up so I took the opportunity to fill the house with the smells of baking in the way of these Hot Cross Scones.
When I discovered Paul Hollywood’s technique for making scones, I was smitten. They rose toweringly tall and had a beautiful light, fluffy texture I’d never managed to recreate at home before. It is a little unconventional – you use bread flour in his original recipe as he says that’s the way all the “big hotels” make them and are encouraged to fold the dough over more than I would feel comfortable with a traditional scone recipe.
I used Canadian white bread flour and I really love it – it is milled very fine and gives a pale yellow, golden hue to bakes made with it. Here is how they turn out though when made plain, without the Easter embellishments I am about to get onto.
I’ve made a brown sugar version with cream instead of milk that turned out beautifully and have plans for a ginger version next time scones are on our itinerary (that is code for having people to stay, I almost always crack out my scone cutter when weekend guests come to stop me hoovering up a batch all on my own – method to my madness ;) ). As I’d lost a bit of conference after Birthday Cake Gate, I didn’t feel up to making some actual hot cross buns but I did feel confident enough in this recipe to add a few bits and pieces to give a nod and a wink to those luscious buns.
So quick, get your bake on for one more Easter themed treat. If you are out of mixed spice from a frenzy of hot cross bun or simnel cake baking, then why not make your own? Here is my recipe – it really does taste so much better to grind your own spice mixes. I think these scones are perfect hot from the oven with only butter to serve but I would wholeheartedly encourage the use of some ginger jam or if you have it, homemade marmalade. You need the tang against these sweet, spiced scones. Enjoy what’s left of your Bank Holiday weekend and if you don’t have time to make these seasonal treats this year, do Pin it on Pinterest for next year using the icon below this post x
Check out my Lemon Drizzle Scones for a video about how to make scones using this fab technique!
- 450 g plus 50g strong bread flour
- 2-3 tsp mixed spice
- 80 g soft butter
- 80 g caster sugar
- 2 large eggs plus one for egg washing
- 5 tsp baking powder
- 250 ml milk
- 1 tsp orange extract or 1 tsp orange zest
- 2 handfuls of dried fruit of your liking
- 2-3 tbsp plain flour
Preheat the oven to 220°C.
Pile 50g of the strong bread flour onto the work surface, ready to fold your sticky soft scone dough into (briskness and efficiency are crucial in scone making!).
Next, mix the plain flour with 1-2 tsp of cold water and work until it is a thick, shaggy mess. Allow to stand as you mix up the scone dough as the flour will continue to absorb the water and you don't want it too sloppy or the crosses you pipe will be messy. Leave to the side for now.
Sift the spice and 450g of the bread flour together then rub in the soft butter with your hands or a spatula if you prefer.
Stir in the sugar, dried fruit, and then the baking powder.
Whisk the eggs into the milk with the orange extract or zest and pour in about half - bring the dough together and dribble in more milk mix until you have a soft and sticky dough. It should be stickier than you think (trust me!).
Here comes the magic bit – use the extra flour on the worktop to dust the top of the dough as you pat it out and fold it in half, turning by 90 degrees each time until you have incorporated most of the flour. Repeat 4 or 5 times and the dough will no longer be sticky and the extra flour should have been worked in. This is "chaffing" up the dough and it builds up flaky layers in the scones.
Pat out to 1.5-2 inches thick (I love my scones very tall) and use a well floured scone cutter to stamp out as many as you can manage. As always, the second pass scones rise a little less from the extra “work” of patting the dough back out.
Sit on a floured baking tray fairly close together and brush the tops with the little bit of milk and egg mixture you are likely to have leftover.
Check the flour and water for the cross and if you must, dribble in tiny amounts of water at a time to make it slightly thicker than toothpaste. Scoop into a piping or food bag, snip off 3-4mm and pipe crosses on top of the scones then get them straight in the oven.
Bake for 15 minutes until very well risen, browned and sound hollow when you tap their bums.
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