The scone was a very pleasant surprise for me when I first came to Great Britain. Soon I began to create my own recipe for this patisserie, and am extremely proud of the scones at Le Manoir. Yet the intense debate rages: do you put the cream on top of the jam, or the jam on top of the cream? Adam Johnson, my colleague, protégé and friend, can solve the mystery. He tells me that the Cornish always use strawberry jam as it is thick enough to spread onto the scone, and they top it with Cornish clotted cream as it is quite soft and sometimes runny, making it perfect to go on top of the jam. ‘Plus,’ says Adam, ‘you can get a lot more cream on your scone that way.’ Meanwhile Devon cream is quite firm and thick, more like butter. So it’s best when spread on the scone first. Which is why Devonians always top their scone with runny raspberry jam. Makes sense now!
For the dough
Unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1cm cubes
Eggs, medium, whisked
Eggs, beaten for the egg wash
Preheat the oven to 170ºC/ 150°C fan / gas 3½.
Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper, ready for the scones.
In a large bowl, sieve together the flour and baking powder and salt.
With your fingertips, rub in the cold butter to create a crumble-like texture. This will take about 4 minutes. Stir in the sugar and sultanas.
Whisk together the eggs and milk. Now make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and fold in the egg-milk mixture to form a dough.
Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead it by hand for about 5-6 minutes until it’s smooth. (Do not overwork the dough as it will strengthen the gluten in the flour and make the texture too dense.)
Roll the dough to a thickness of about 2.5cm.
Now dip a 5.5cm diameter cutter in flour and cut out as many scones as you can, approximately 10-12. As you do this, place the scones upside down on the lined tray, so there’s a nice flat top to each scone.
Brush the top of each scone with the egg wash and leave to rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes. (Here you will witness is a glorious little miracle – slowly the baking powder is activated by the warmth, creating thousands of tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide in the dough and its volume will increase by 10-15%.)
Bake for 10 minutes. Then transfer the scones to a wire rack – even though they are irresistible, you must leave them to cool.
A large pot of Cornish or Devonshire clotted cream.
The best strawberry or raspberry jam.
Serve the scones at room temperature. Use a serrated knife to cut the scones in half across the middle, and enjoy your scone just the way you like it. One of the great classic British tastes.
And please don’t squabble about which goes on first, cream or jam.