150 g dried fruit, such as sour cherries, raisins, sultanas, chopped sour apricots, blueberries, or a mixture
orange juice , for soaking
150 g cold unsalted butter
500 g self-raising flour , plus a little extra for dusting
2 level teaspoons baking powder
2 heaped teaspoons golden caster sugar
2 large free-range eggs
4 tablespoons milk , plus a little extra for brushing
Jersey clotted cream, good-quality jam or lemon curd , to serve
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Scones are wonderfully British, delicious, and so simple even a five-year-old could make them. There’s a magic hour just after they come out of the oven when they are so heavenly I just can't imagine why anyone would prefer store-bought scones. Just remember that the less you touch the dough, the shorter and crumblier your scones will be.
Put the dried fruit into a bowl and pour over just enough orange juice to cover. Ideally, leave it for a couple of hours. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6. First and foremost, brilliant scones are about having the confidence to do as little as possible, so do what I say and they’ll be really great; and the second and third time you make them you'll get the dough into a solid mass even quicker, even better.
Put your butter, flour, baking powder, sugar and a good pinch of sea salt into a mixing bowl and use your thumbs and forefingers to break up the butter and rub it into the flour so you get little cornflake – sized pieces. Make a well in the middle of the dough, add the eggs and milk, and stir it up with a spatula. Drain your soaked fruit and add that to the mixture. Add a tiny splash of milk if needed, until you have a soft, dry dough. Move it around as little as possible to get it looking like a scruffy mass – at this point, you’re done. Sprinkle over some flour, cover the bowl with cling film and pop it into the fridge for 15 minutes.
Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until it’s about 2 to 3cm thick. With a 6cm round cutter or the rim of a glass, cut out circles from the dough and place them upside down on a baking sheet – they will rise better that way (so they say). Re-roll any offcuts to use up the dough. Brush the top of each scone with the extra milk or some melted butter and bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until risen and golden. At that point, take them out of the oven and leave them to cool down a little. Serve with clotted cream and a little jam or lemon curd.
PS: A great little tip if you don’t want to bake a whole batch is to freeze the scones after you’ve cut them out. That way, you can come home from work, pop the little rounds of frozen dough into the oven and cook them at 180°C/350°F/gas 4 for 25 minutes, or until golden and lovely.