The recipe for these in the Leithis Baking Bible starts like this: "Traditionally, scones are served at tea time. Scones are at their best if they are mixed and cooked quickly as any rising agent in them will start to work once the liquid is added. [...] Ideally they should be served warm from the oven. " Hmmmm. Doesn't that sound just great? A recipe which, unlike my mother, encourages you to eat the product of your efforts straight from the oven. I'm in!
8 oz self-rising flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 oz cold butter, cubed
1 oz caster sugar
5 oz milk
1 egg (for brushing)
These are made in the traditional scone method which is as follows: Place all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon or whisk (to aerate). Add the butter and mix in with the dry ingredients using a pastry blender or two knives or your fingertips until small crumbs are formed but do not overmix. Make a well out of the crumbs and add the milk (at room temperature). Gather into a soft dough. Transfer to a floured surface and knead just long enough to form a ball. Roll out thick and either cut out shapes with a floured cookie-cutter or cut into triangles. Place the scones on a parchment paper-covered cookie sheet and brush lightly with the egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 375F until golden.
The most important rule is "handle the dough as little as possible". Also "act quickly". I think I made a double batch and also I added the zest of one lemon (two would have been better). They were fantastic eaten warm with butter, while drinking English breakfast tea! It's been a couple of months now but I still fondly remember that breakfast!
While I was researching this post, I came across this Scones Newsletter on the Joy of Baking, which is full of interesting scone-related recipes and further advice.