It is easy to halve the potato (scone) where there is love ~ Irish Proverb
I don’t eat scones here in the U.S. but my own. I’m a scone snob. I’ve created my own version of a scone, my American scone, and it is a cross between the Irish traditional scone and a cookie. In fact, I have two types of scones – Norah’s Dancing Dream Scones and Cynthia’s Cynsational Scones. Both of these scone recipes are included in my new dessert cookbook titled, Pavlova in a Hat Box, Sweet Memories & Desserts. These scone recipes are held in high esteem by all those who partake of them!
That said, when I visit Ireland, I eat scones everywhere I ramble and eat them with lots of butter and jam or clotted cream and jam. I’m a coffee drinker more than a tea drinker, but when I eat scones, I must have good strong Irish tea to go along with them. On my recent visit to Ireland, I ate my share of scones in County Clare, County Kerry, and County Cork in cafes and tea rooms. There’s something really liberating devouring Irish scones with tea and friends in Ireland. They usually are eaten after a night of vigorous dancing or after a day of hiking. Every bite brings clarity and joy, and the conversation becomes lighthearted amongst friends.
One of the scones I ate was at the café at Moll’s Gap in County Kerry and it is a traditional white scone recipe that is from the Avoca Café Cookbook:
1lb/450g self-raising flour
A pinch of baking powder
A generous pinch of salt
2oz/50g caster sugar
4oz/110g unsalted butter, diced
1 egg, lightly beaten
2fl oz/50ml double cream
7fl oz/200ml milk (you may need a little more)
2 oz/50 g raisins (optional)
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, to glaze
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and stir in the sugar. Using your fingertips, lightly work in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. At this point, you can add the raisins if you choose to include them. Add the egg, cream and enough milk to moisten. Mix well until it has a soft doughy texture – but it shouldn’t be too moist.
Gather the dough into a ball and turn it out onto a floured surface, then roll lightly with a rolling pin to 1 inch/2.5cm thick. Cut out with a round cutter, transfer to a greased baking sheet and brush the tops with the egg glaze. Bake in the oven preheated to 350F/180c/Gas mark 4 for 15-20 minutes or until well browned.
I ate a double sized one and didn’t share, as in the proverb says. It was delicious!
A week later, while in County Clare with a friend, I went to Nuala’s large farm kitchen near Knockcanes and made my American scones for the sixth annual redhead conference in Crosshaven, Cork. I was going to sell my books, including Pavlova in a Hat Box and I wanted to lure customers to my table with my scones.
As soon as I entered Nuala’s kitchen, I was greeted with a loving hug and a big plate of her traditional Irish scones. I think of Nuala as the quintessential Irish hospitality woman multiplied by ten! She always feeds and nourishes us with her excellent food and generous spirit. I wish I could bottle up this warmth emanating from Nuala’s country kitchen and take it home with me!
No offense to the delicious Avoca scone and others I had eaten around Ireland, but Nuala’s was the absolute best and the most satisfying and tasty. I can’t give you her recipe here because I don’t think Nuala has it written down. She makes these scones nearly every day and the recipe is inscribed on her heart more than in her head. Every bite with butter and jam made me feel as if all was right in my life and everything would be grand thereafter.
After eating Nuala’s scones, I wondered whether mine would hold a candle to her scones! But there was no competition here, for it was merely a sharing of our love of baking and Nuala’s insistence we needed sustenance before our baking marathon. Martha and Nora, my dancing and long time good friends, assisted me in the making of these scones, and Nuala was at the ready with pans, a hot oven, and her help. Of course, we had to test them to make sure they were festival ready and I was delighted that the good Irish butter and buttermilk I used had made them as tantalizing as I had hoped. And what pleased me most of all was that Nuala gave her, “They’re gorgeous, my dear!” approval.
This recent visit to Ireland filled me with so many memories, including getting sconed in Ireland, and I will never forget this treasured time in Nuala’s Country Kitchen making my scones for the redhead conference, which by the way, did bring customers to my table who also said, “these scones are brilliant!”
Cynthia’s Cynsational Scones (Cherry-Lemon)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
½ tsp. alt
A little less than 1/3 cup sugar
10 Tbs. unsalted butter (in my cookbook, I use a combination of butter and shortening or coconut oil, but in Ireland, I used delicious Irish baking butter)
Zest from a lemon
1 tsp, fresh lemon juice
½ cup buttermilk
Loaded cup of dried cherries