This looks long, but that's only because I can't give a recipe without chattering about it along the way
It's really quick and easy.
I don't know if you've ever done scones before -- I have loved them for years, but had never actually done them and had my eyes open for a recipe, when the cooking/food magazine published by a local supermarket chain (Overwaitea/SaveOnFoods) featured a short article entitled "Never-Fail Scones", giving some tips and a basic recipe with some variations. I wasted no time trying it out, and have never regretted it! The text is worth having, and not long, so I'll reproduce most of it, as well...
"...Savoury or sweet, scones make a great entree, complement or dessert. For best results, the butter and milk should be cold, not room temperature. If the butter and milk are too warm, the butter works into the dough with the warmth of your hands resulting in a less flaky scone. Also the butter should present in pea-sized bits throughout the dough as it is these particles that pop during the baking process to create the flaky texture.
"Lastly, handle the dough as little as possible. Don't squeeze, knead or roll it; just pat it gently into a circle to the appropriate thickness, cut into wedges...and bake."
Basic Scones with Variations -- makes 8 scones
Basic Savoury recipe:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
6 tbsp cold butter
3/4 cup milk*
* -- you may need up to 2 tbsp more depending on the temperature of the butter, the room and your hands
Preheat oven to 425F. Combine flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Mix well with a fork. Cut in cold butter with a pastry blender or two knives until the size of peas. Gradually add cold milk while mixing lightly with a fork. Discard fork and use your hands to *gently* pull dough together into a ball. Do not squeeze or knead the dough. Once the dough has come together (and is not sticky or wet), place on a lightly floured surface, and pat into a rough flat circle about 6 to7 inches in diameter and about 1-1/2 to 2 inches thick. Use a sharp knife to cut the circle into 8 wedges. Please wedges on an ungreased baking sheet**. Place in centre of oven for 17 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack. Serve warm or cold.
** I line my baking sheet with parchment. This is not necessary, but it makes cleanup a breeze and the parchment is reusable umpteen times. Also, if you have scones leftover that you want to warm up, wrap them in parchment and put in the microwave for a minute or two on about 70% power. This keeps the moisture in and they don't toughen up.
For sweet scones, add 1/4 cup sugar or packed brown sugar (my preference) to the dry ingredients before cutting in the butter.
For herbed scones, use the savoury recipe and add 1 tsp dry mustard and a couple of tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs of your choice -- use slightly less herbs if using dry -- after cutting in the butter.
For cheese/herb, use the herb variation, but reduce the butter to 4 tbsp and add about 2 cups of grated extra old cheddar or other strongly flavoured cheese, when you add the herbs.
For cranberry scones, use the sweet recipe, adding 1 cup frozen or dried cranberries to the dry ingredients after cutting in the butter. I always have dried cranberries on hand, and that works great, but frozen are even better. Also nice if you have a fresh orange on hand, to add the grated rind along with the cranberries.
I also like to do an apple/spice variation, using a good-size apple chopped fairly small, and adding a couple of teaspoons of cinnamon and some allspice to the dry ingredients.
Well, there it is. I do them every few weeks on a Saturday morning, and serve bacon and scramblies with them. I hope you enjoy them.