Wednesday, 2 November 2016

What's the fastest cake in the shop? 'Scone... Traditional Scottish Gluten Free Vegan Scones & Vegan Clotted Cream

Good afternoon my happy fun lovin' criminals,

That "'s'cone" joke is as old as the hills but in all fairness scones have pretty much been part of Scottish afternoon tea as much as tartan and shortbread.  As a child I remember both my mum and gran making regular batches of scones and there really is nothing like a scone, fresh from the oven, slathered (and I mean slathered) in butter or cream and jam.  It's the stuff Scottish childhoods are made of.
I love a good scone and if I'm making them just for my immediate family then I usually use the tried and tested Paul Hollywood recipe but as this recipe relies on eggs and regular plain flour, I've had to adapt it slightly for my vegan and gluten-free readers.

Now for a bit of scone know-how.  There are regional variations as to how a cream tea should preferably be eaten. The Devonshire (or Devon) method is to split the scone in two, cover each half with clotted cream, and then add strawberry jam on top. Traditionally it is important that the scones be warm (ideally, freshly baked), and that clotted (rather than whipped) cream and strawberry jam (rather than any other variety) is used. Butter is generally not included, and some sources advise that the tea should not be served with milk.  The Devon method is also commonly used in the neighbouring counties of Somerset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, however many Somerset folks argue that the correct way of eating a scone is jam first, then cream.  

In Cornwall, the cream tea was traditionally served with a "Cornish split", a type of slightly sweet white bread roll, rather than a scone.  It is now rare to find this available commercially, even in Cornwall, but splits are still used by many Cornish families in their own homes.  The warm roll (or scone) is first buttered, then spread with strawberry jam, and finally topped with a spoonful of clotted cream.

Although these distinctions are still claimed by many, cream teas are served and enjoyed both cream first and jam first throughout both counties.

Scones are rarely buttered in commercially available tearooms either in Devon or Somerset, however in Scotland butter and jam are regular accompaniments to a nice warm scone.  Also in Scotland anything goes and no-one will look at you twice for having butter, jam and clotted cream!!  Yes that's how accommodating and hospitable we are!

Where clotted cream is not available, whipped cream is sometimes used as a substitute. Another variation to a cream tea is called "Thunder and Lightning", which consists of a round of bread, topped with clotted cream and golden syrup, honey, or treacle.

The trick with baking scones is not to over kneed the dough.  If using plain flour, the gluten makes the scones too hard if the dough is overworked.  It's not an issue with gluten-free flours but you still don't want to overwork the mixture just to make sure it's not too tight.  A good scone should be very light and fluffy inside, not too "cakey" or heavy.

So here we go folks...

Ingredients for Vegan & Gluten Free Scottish Scones

475 grams of your favourite (gluten free)self raising flour
70 grams of caster sugar
2 grams of bicarbonate of soda (for extra oomph)
A pinch of salt
75 grams of your favourite dairy free spread (fresh from fridge - freezing before use is even better!)
240 mls of dairy-free milk (you might not need all of it!)
(optional) handful of fried fruit if you are wanting fruit scones

Put the oven on to about 170 degrees C (fan assisted).
Get a metal baking sheet and place a piece of baking parchment or greaseproof paper on it.
Sift 400 grams of the flour into a large bowl with the bicarb - you'll need the rest for kneading
Using a knife, cut small pieces of the vegan spread into the flour.  Try to keep the pieces separate from each other and coat with the flour to keep from joining into one big butter ball.  You want to the pieces to be as scattered through the flour as possible.  This makes it so much easier to turn to breadcrumb-like mixture without too much handling.  The best scones are made with everything cold so you don't want to transfer all your body heat into the mixture when you're trying to get it into the breadcrumb stage.
Very lightly and using only your finger tips (to avoid transferring too much heat), pinch and sift the butter and flour to get it into the almost breadcrumb phase.  It doesn't need to be too fine, you are not looking for sand, just the flour and butter better incorporated.
Using a clean fork, mix in the sugar and salt.
If you're adding in fruit do it at this stage.
Carefully add in about 200-220 mls of your vegan milk.  All flours are different and albeit this should be a slightly wet mix, you don't want to add all of it at the same time just in case it's too much but add the rest in if you still think the mixture is too dry.  DO NOT OVER MIX.  You just want the contents of the bowl to be acquainted not overly familiar!
Pour the rest of the flour onto a clean dry work surface.
Pour the contents of the bowl onto the flour and very gently knead.  This is a sticky mixture, you are only needing it so that it is capable of rolling out.
Roll the dough until it is about 2.5cm (1 inch) thick.
Take your cookie cutter and dip this in flour until it suitably covered.
Place the cutter over the dough and in one straight push, cut down.  Do not twist, just push straight down.  If you twist it, the shape distorts when baking and the scone will not rise in one direction.
Place all your scone circles on the baking sheet (you'll probably need to re-knead the dough and re-roll a couple of times to use all the dough).
Using a baking brush, lightly brush the top of each scone.  Try not to get any milk down the sides of the scone as this too will distort the rise of the scone.

Depending on the size of your scones, bake for about 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden brown and risen.

Now this recipe is supposed to make between 8 and 12 medium sized scones.  But these aren't normal scones, these are Scottish scones.  We don't do things in small portions here.  These things are massive.  Now I know that many people like a wee dainty cake for their afternoon tea, but here we like massive "dodds" of things and these scones definitely fit the bill.  

Now it's best to eat these jolly giants straight from the oven, or warm at least.  They don't keep particularly well and go stale after about 24 hours but in all fairness they don't last that long in my household so I've never really tested the theory.

When these are nice and hot you don't need a knife.  Oh no, you gently caress these bad boys open and watch the tiny puff of steam arise and smell that amazing fresh baked aroma.  The challenge is deciding what you are going to slather on.  I know it bucks the trend but I'm loving lemon curd at the moment so that is my filling of choice.  There is something about the warm scone and the citrus tang of the curd that just tantalises my taste buds more than jam does.  But each to their own.  

I am a sucker for clotted cream and I think that everyone should be having some on their scones so here is my recipe for, what is, a quintessential accompaniment for your scone.

Vegan Clotted Cream

50 grams vegan spread
75 grams icing sugar, sifted thoroughly
4-6 tablespoons coconut cream - If you can't find coconut cream, use a chilled can of coconut milk and scoop the fat from the top


Use an electric whisk or stand mixer to mix together the vegan butter and icing sugar, creating a butter-cream.
Keep whisking, adding the coconut cream in a little bit at a time until it resembles a light fluffy cream and you're pleased with the taste (you may want to add more coconut cream to make it less sweet.)
Use right away or chill in the fridge. Can be kept refrigerated for up to 2 days, covered in cling film.

So, now you've got your scone and your cream, you just need to decide if you're going to be having a Cornish tea, a Somerset tea or a Scottish tea.




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