It’s funny how we all have taste memories. Some years ago, Belinda Jeffery and her husband left their city life behind to live in the countryside. Not long after that, her cooking started to head in a slightly different direction. And that’s where taste memory comes in - although Belinda's first attempts were perfectly acceptable, the scones were somehow lacking, and none really tasted like the ones she remembered from her childhood - until the day she replaced the milk in the recipe with buttermilk and the lights went on! These were the flavours she remembered from her childhood, these were the light, fluffy scones that her mother used to make.
Belinda Jeffery is a food lover and writer of several award-wining cookbooks. She regularly contributes to Australia’s Delicious magazine, appears on local radio and tv, reviews restaurants for the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide and sits on judging panels for a number of industry awards.
She has cooked all her life, finding her passion early on and taking it to restaurant kitchens and then moving into food writing and teaching. Belinda and her husband left bustling city life behind to live up on New South Wales’ north coast.
FLUFFY BUTTERMILK SCONES
Makes 18 - 20 scones.
This recipe makes rather a lot of scones (I seem to be cooking in country quantities too!) however just halve it if you want less.
2 cups (300 g) self-raising flour
2 cups (320 g) wholemeal self-raising flour
¼ cup (55 g) caster sugar
1 teaspoon salt
160g cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
200g natural sultanas, dried currants or chopped dates
2 cups (500 ml) buttermilk
Milk or plain flour, for topping
Jam and good thick cream, to serve
Preheat your oven to 200C. Dust a sturdy baking tray with flour and set it aside. (If you don’t have a heavy baking tray, you can use a lightweight one lined with two layers of baking paper to help prevent the base of the scones burning.)
Put both of the flours, the sugar and salt into a large bowl. Whisk them together with a balloon whisk for 1 minute so they’re thoroughly combined and aerated. Scatter the little chunks of butter over the top, and use your fingers to rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. (If you like, you can do all this in a food processor; then just tip the mixture into a big bowl.)
Add the dried fruit and toss it about so it’s well coated, then make a well in the middle. Pour in the buttermilk and stir it in very lightly until the floury mixture is well moistened. Turn this mixture out onto a floured board and knead it gently until it’s only just combined (be careful not to overdo this, as the secret to fluffy scones is using a very light touch.) Pat it out into a 4 - 5cm thick round. Dip a scone cutter or small tumbler into some flour, then stamp out the scones, dipping the cutter back into the flour between each one (this helps stop the dough sticking to it), Gently knead together any scraps and cut them again.
Sit the scones closely together on the prepared baking tray and either brush the tops with a little milk or dust them very lightly with flour.
Slip the tray in the oven, and bake the scones for 20 minutes, or until they’re golden and smell divine! When they’re ready, remove them from the oven and immediately wrap them in a clean, dry tea towel. Leave them for 5 minutes then serve them with lashings of jam and cream.