British summers are full of cricket, scones and tea. There has been plenty of cricket and tea lately so must be time for bit of scone making. My lack of baking prowess is legendary, as is my love for a freshly baked treat. So a few months back I decided to knuckle down and master at least one simple recipe. Every Saturday for a month the kitchen rang to the sound of muttered curses softened by a dusting of flour. But I got there!
Turns out that all you need is:
- A recipe that works
- A reminder to stick to said recipe
I can’t really help you with the last one, but I assure you that patience is a skill which can be learned. In the interest of good scones it is worth it. Quite often I would get to the rolling out stage and think ‘that’ll do, can’t be bothered’. Rest assured that if you can take a deep breath before picking up the rolling pin again there will be fewer tears with your tea. One big help was using a food processor to mix the butter into the flour. I have a simple, bench top processor and found that blending the butter into the dry ingredients gave pretty much the same result as rubbing it in slowly - but with far less mess and time.
This patience will also help with sticking to the recipe. For years friends and family have admonished ‘baking isn’t cooking, you can’t just mess around with the ingredients and proportions.’ I believed them, but when you run out of cocoa in the middle of a chocolate cake then surely hot chocolate will suffice (spoiler - no, no it really won’t).
Where PKU baking can come undone is in finding a good recipe in the first place. I’ve spent years trying to adapt non-PKU recipes to our specialist flour with varying success. I have tried the recipes which are developed with our products in mind but always feel down at the ‘patience hurdle.’
After another failure with ‘normal’ recipes on the first weekend, I tackled a Nutricia scone recipe on week 2. The recipe calls for chopped raspberries, but I love a raisin scone so used the same weight of those instead. It worked! Over the next few weeks, I came up with a few tweaks:
- Mix up the psyllium husks with only 100ml of Sno-Pro. This leaves you 40ml which you can use to adjust the dough when you are kneading it.
- Try two teaspoons of baking powder as this seemed to help with lift without making adding too much.
- If you are worried about the sugar content, try halving it. This is a tip from a baker friend, who noted “you can usually get a way with half of the sugar in a recipe.” Give it a try.
The husband will stick to raisin scones all day long, but I do like a savoury alternative. Back in 2017, an NZ website published an article headed “Recipe: 'Best' cheese scones from Olde Beach Bakery”. Naturally I tried the recipe at the time but didn’t have much success. The flavour was great but the texture was... let’s just say ‘dry’. However, armed with the success of using psyllium husks in the raisin scones I gave this one another go.
“Best cheese scones recipe” as adapted for PKU.
Gives 8 - 10 scones with a 2 inch cutter. The recipe is Phe free, assuming you use Phe free cheese & milk substitute.
- 1 cup of Phe free milk substitute
- 1 & 1/2 tsp psyllium husks
- 2 cups flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
- 50gm soft butter
- 1½ cups grated Phe free cheese substitute
- Mix 3/4 of the milk with the psyllium husks, leave to sit for 10 minutes while you get on with steps 2 - 4. Reserve the final 1/4 cup of milk for later. The recipe tends to be wet so you might not use all of the milk.
- Prepare a baking tray with baking paper or grease with butter/oil. Pre-heat oven to 165 fan. You may want to wait to turn the oven on until after step 4, depending on how quickly your oven heats up.
- Put the flour, baking powder and salt (optional) into a food processor. Add in the butter and blend until the mixture resembles bread crumbs.
- Move these ingredients into a bowl and rub in any last big lumps. You can either stir in all the of the cheese or reserve some to sprinkle on top later.
- Make a well in the centre and add the milk & psyllium mixture. Mix to form a soft dough, adding more of the reserved milk as needed to soften the dough. (Make sure your oven is on before you get flour everywhere in the next step.)
- Lightly flour a rolling pin, a board and your hands before tipping the dough on to the board. Shape it into a ball then roll into a disc about 2cm thick. Cut into rounds using a 2-inch cutter. Re-knead, roll out and cut further rounds from the dough trimmings.
- Brush the top of each scone with a little milk. You can sprinkle a little grated cheese on each one if you like. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 10-15 mins. If you want more colour on top, you can grill quickly.
- Let them cool but be sure to eat one while it is still warm!