Sunday, 18 December 2016

Shimmin Scones

I've been asked for the sugar-free scone recipe I mentioned in May.

This is a set of variations around the theme of my parents' recipe, which they have from my grandparents. It may be centuries old for all I know, although I suspect not because self-raising flour is pretty modern.

Sugar-free scones

You'll want the following ingredients:

  • 8oz self-raising flour
  • 2oz margarine (or butter)
  • Spices to taste
  • 1/4 pint water or milk
  • 2oz dried fruit

Mix the flour, spices and marg together, then slowly drip in the liquid. It should start to gather into a ball of dough with a claylike texture - it'll never get quite dry, but it should get easy to handle. If it becomes really tacky you'll need to add more flour.

I use a food processor which has only a blade (no blunt stirrer) so I throw the fruit in at the last minute. You can add it earlier if you've better equipment than me. If you add it too early, it can be ground up so small it's no longer noticeable, and it'll also upset the balance of the dough because it's basically adding sugar and water.

Although scone recipes normally include sugar, I find a reasonable amount of fruit and spices give it plenty of flavour. If you use butter or jam you should be fine. Personally I don't, but then I make these scones deliberately as a convenient but relatively healthy breakfast - quick to eat and with minimal mess, which means I can eat them at work.

Milk supposedly makes for a more luxurious recipe, but water always does fine for me. The milk recipe doesn't keep as well so that's another reason I avoid it.

Good combinations I've tried include the old staple of cinnamon + raisins, and cocoa powder + cherries. Cherries have a fair bit of sugar in, of course, so that's less healthy; on the other hand it offsets the bitterness of the cocoa. It's quite easy to overdo cocoa, it'll look very pale in the raw mixture but darkens on cooking. Mixed Spice is also a good bet.

I've also had a successful savoury recipe: poppy seed and rosemary, with a dash of salt to bring out the flavours.

Because I tend to make these as handy breakfasts, I divide the dough up into large chunks. You can normally get 3-4 large scones from one set of mixture, squash them out into a flat lump and they'll rise nicely (no need for kneading). Smaller ones work just as well, but need a little more watching because they burn more easily.

Put them on a greased tray and cook at preheated GM7/220C without fan/200C with fan for about 10 minutes. It's worth quickly separating them from the tray when you take them out just in case they stick; slightly tricky as they'll still be a bit soft. I find carefully shaking the tray side to side is often enough to dislodge them. Don't put them in a box straight away, as they'll release a lot of moisture as they cool and it'll fill with condensation. Leave them to cool (maybe with a dishcloth over them) and then box them up. Mine last a working week without going off, which is as long as I've ever tried it...

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