Matt Preston’s recipe & golden rules for perfect scones

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We at the Culy editors enjoyed  Matt Preston’s 100 Best Recipes cookbook. Fortunately, we were allowed to publish a recipe on, to give you a taste. So: Matt’s recipe for scones, plus his 13 golden rules for perfect scones!

For 12 pieces:

  • 600 grams self-raising flour (or flour + baking powder)
  • A pinch of salt
  • 40 grams cold butter, cubed
  • 310 ml whole milk
  • 125 ml whipping cream, plus some extra for covering
  • Extra flower to pollinate

The 13 golden rules for baking scones:

  1. Stick to the recipe! This sounds simple, but with scones this is especially important because there is a lot of raising agent in them so that they become airy, high and beautiful.
  2. Or don’t stick to the recipe, at least follow it a bit, but instead of milk use sparkling lemonade for fluffier scones or whipped cream for fuller scones.
  3. Do not knead the dough for too long. Better yet, don’t think of the scone mix as dough at all, just as cohesive ingredients.
  4. It is better to ‘cut’ the ingredients together than to mix them. Take a flat-bladed knife or a palette knife and pull it through the ingredients after adding the moist ingredients, until everything is just mixed.
  5. Don’t mix too long! Roll out the dough only once and apply very little pressure to your rolling pin. You can also gently press out the scone mix with the heel of your hand on a floured work surface to a thickness of three centimeters.
  6. Dust the work surface very lightly with flour to press the dough out as no extra flour should get into the mix.
  7. A reminder: don’t mix and knead the dough for too long or the scones will become tough or, worse, rock hard. Geez!
  8. The scone mixture should be moist: it should come away from the wall of the mixing bowl, but it should stick a little to your fingers. Scone dough is much moister than other dough: it is in between dough and batter.
  9. Cut out your scones tightly by only pressing the cutter down. Turning the cutter can adversely affect the rising process. I like to use a serrated cutter, because you can’t twist it. If you don’t have a cutter, use a straight glass or a straight plastic cup.
  10. Place the scones close together on the baking sheet so that they support each other and do not sag during rising. It doesn’t matter if they stick together: you can easily pull them loose.
  11. Because this dough is quite airy, it cooks quickly; so put the scones at the top of the oven, where it is hottest, provided you have a convection oven. A fan oven usually spreads the heat evenly throughout the oven, although you know better than me which part of your oven is hottest.
  12. Prepare the scones the day you need them. They taste best warm and they fill the house with their delicious scent.
  13. If you want scones with a soft top, brush with milk after seven minutes of baking. Or wrap them in a clean tea towel as soon as they come out of the oven.

Preheat the oven to 230 °C. Lightly grease a baking tray with butter.

Place the flour, salt and butter in a bowl. Gently rub the butter into the flour (the self-raising flour), lifting the mixture a little at a time to allow air to enter. I said ‘quietly’ and ‘a little bit’!

When you have rubbed all the butter into the flour, make a well in the center and pour in the milk and cream. Mix all ingredients with a non-serrated knife: pull through the ingredients and mix them loosely (see rules above).

Turn the scone dough upside down on a very lightly floured work surface. Press the dough with the heel of your hand to a thickness of about 3 cm and cut out scones until all the dough is used up. I use a very old, dented round cutter of 5.5 cm.

Place the scones close together on the baking sheet. Brush the top with whipped cream and then slide the baking sheet into the hot oven. Bake the scones for 12-15 minutes. The scones are done when they feel firm (not wet and soggy) when you squeeze them in the middle.

You can always taste one to make sure they’re cooked through before taking them out of the oven (the cook’s treat!).

Source: Culy by
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