The original scone was round and flat, and as big as a medium-size plate. It was made out of unleavened bread and cooked on a griddle. Later this original scone (pronounced “scon” to rhyme with “John”) was dubbed a “bannock.” Now we call the triangle quadrants cut from the bannock a scone.
When baking powder became widely available, scones began to be the oven-baked, well-leavened items we know today. The scone is now the basic component of the cream tea or Devonshire tea.
I have tried several different recipes for scones but have never found one with which I was completely happy. Yesterday I worked on one of my own and came up with something that pleased me. I was contentedly munching on one when my neighbor returned home.
I ran outside to catch her and ask if she had time to do a taste test for me. She was the perfect tester for this recipe because she was born and raised in England. She is a great conversationalist and I love to listen to her accent. She tried two samples of different recipes, and the one I’m sharing with you is the one she said tasted most like a British scone.
While scones are good anytime, they are most often enjoyed at breakfast. It only takes about ten minutes to mix them up and twenty minutes to bake. If you are pressed for time you can mix all the dry ingredients together the night before, then add the eggs and milk in the morning and bake them.
You will need:
1 ¾ cup Flour ½ teaspoon Cream of Tartar
1/3 cup Sugar 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) Butter
1 teaspoon Salt 2 Eggs
1 teaspoon Baking Soda 1/3 cup Milk
½ cup Dried Sweet Cranberries
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
- Mix the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and ½ teaspoon Cream of Tartar together in a mixing bowl.
- Chop the stick of butter into roughly 8 tablespoon-sized pieces. Then place the pieces into the mixing bowl with the dry ingredients. With a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the butter is in pea-sized pieces. You could also do everything up to this point in your food processor instead of a mixing bowl.
- Stir in the eggs, milk and cranberries. Cranberries aren’t the only fruits you can use here. Currants are the most traditional choice, but you could use raisins or any kind of firm chopped fruit like apples or pears or even fresh cranberries. Another option is to leave them plain and spread them with jam before eating.
- Turn everything out onto a lightly floured surface,and knead just enough so the dough holds together.
- Shape the dough into a round cake eight to ten inches in diameter.
- Cut the cake into eight pie-shaped pieces with a bench knife, pizza cutter or chef’s knife.
- Place all the pieces on a sheet pan close together but not quite touching.
- Bake for approximately 20 minutes.
- They are best eaten while they are still warm.
Food for Thought:
Having an excellent recipe for scones is surely an important step toward being a good hostess. But there’s more to the afternoon tea than good scones and china. There’s also conversation—meaningful conversation, listening conversation that makes a gourmet cook an all-around delightful host.
I’ll never forget the hosting skills we encountered when my fiancée and I attended a Navigator “Whing Ding” college conference. The students who were involved in Bible studies with the Nav representatives were superb conversationalists. When we talked at meals, they expressed an interest in us. “What do you enjoy? What are you studying at Baylor, at A.&M?”
We were both amazed, for we were accustomed to trivial interactions.
Have we lost the art of conversation today? So often our interaction consists of unburdening ourselves or one-upmanship. Have you suffered under a person who pours out one story after another and never pauses to ask about you? Or have you ever felt “iced” out” in a conversation? There are three of you, and two people begin talking to one another about a subject you know nothing about and you sit there, wondering if they’re ignoring you on purpose.
God’s Word speaks a great deal about the power of the tongue. “Like apples of gold in settings of silver, so is a word spoken at the right moment” (Proverbs 25:11); “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs down, but a kind word makes it glad”(Proverbs 12:25); “Think how great a forest ever so small a spark sets on fire. The tongue also is a fire, a world of wickedness” (James 3: 5b-6a); Whoever makes no mistake with the tongue is certainly a perfect man” (James 3: 2b).
Wouldn’t it be great to know you could make others comfortable when they come to your home for tea or dinner by the way you graciously engage them in conversation, edifying them and not boring them or tearing them down?
Some do’s and don’ts my husband and I find helpful are:
- Listen more than you talk. Avoid conversational narcissism.
- Come armed with topics ready: questions about something that has happened to them recently: “Tell me about that book you’ve been reading.” How’s that grandbaby coming along?” Or for people you don’t know: What do you enjoy doing? Tell me about your day today.
- Don’t ask what someone does and leave it at that. Ask them what the hardest part of their job is, or what they like best.
- Don’t over share. Sometimes in conversation, I begin trying to explain myself as an art spirit, a writer and a musician. If I explain extensively, the response is always dead silence. I’m learning it’s important to cultivate a little mystery, to leave people intrigued and wanting more.
- Become an interesting person by reading and constantly learning new things.
We recently heard the president of Fuller Seminary, Rich Mouw, speak about the conflict over doctrine that rages among Presbyterians today. He said we need to be “engaging” conversationalists about what we believe, to learn to speak with wit and intellect but also to draw others out about their beliefs and what’s important to them. “Let your speech always be gracious and so well reasoned that you will know how to reply to each individual” (Colossians 4:6).
I’m thinking that Dale’s scone’s basic ingredients: flour, sugar, salt, cream of tartar, butter, eggs and milk is like good theology. Add the cranberries and you’ve got the zing of engaging discussion that makes for hospitality.
A good host provides both good food and engaging conversation. He is the source of warmth and welcome—of genuine hospitality.