Jason Atherton's light touch

English scones, by Jason Atherton.
English scones, by Jason Atherton. Photo: Supplied

English scones

The key to making light scones is to use cold butter and to work quickly to avoid getting the butter too soft. When combining the ingredients together, you do not need to knead the dough until it is silky smooth – it just needs to come together in a ball.

225g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

1 tbsp baking powder

<i>Social Sweets</i>, by Jason Atherton.
Social Sweets, by Jason Atherton. Photo: Supplied

50g cold unsalted butter, diced

50g castor sugar

25g sultanas, soaked in a little milk or hot water to plump

150ml whole milk

150ml double cream

1 large egg

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1 large egg yolk mixed with 1 tbsp water, for glazing

1. Preheat the oven to 220C. Dust a large baking sheet with a little flour. Sift the measured flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub into the flour with the tips of your fingers until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in the sugar.

2. Drain the sultanas and add to the bowl. Stir to mix, then make a well in the centre. Lightly whisk together the milk, cream and egg, then pour this mixture into the well. Using a table knife or rubber/plastic spatula, quickly mix until it all comes together into a soft, sticky dough.

3. Dust some flour on a work surface and tip out the dough on to this. Dredge the dough and your hands with a little more flour, then fold the dough over several times until it is a little smoother. Pat out the dough with your hands until it is about four centimetres thick. Dust a five-centimetre round pastry cutter with a little flour, then use it to stamp out neat discs of dough. (When stamping out, try not to twist the cutter or the scones will rise unevenly during baking.) Gather up the dough trimmings and give them a few folds to combine, then flatten and stamp out more discs. Arrange the scones on a baking sheet, leaving a bit of space around each one.

4. Brush the tops of the scones with the egg-yolk glaze, then bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until risen and golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. The scones are best eaten freshly baked and generously filled with clotted cream and jam. Once cooled, they can be frozen on the day of baking; thaw before serving, then cut the scones in half and toast them, or reheat in a 140C oven.

Makes about 14 small scones

Bakewell Tart
to run with a recipe extract from Jason Atherton's book Social Sweets

Bakewell tart. Photo: Supplied

Bakewell tart

I spent my early years in Sheffield, not far from the town of Bakewell, so I naturally have a soft spot for a good bakewell tart. Here, I'm using traditional raspberry jam in the filling but I have also made some pretty good bakewell tarts layered with gooseberry or damson jams.

250g shortcrust pastry

warm apricot jam, for glazing

sifted icing sugar, for dusting (optional)

For the filling

125g unsalted butter, softened

125g castor sugar

2 large eggs

125g ground almonds

25g plain flour

3 tbsp raspberry jam

50g flaked almonds

1. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pastry to the thickness of a dollar coin. Gently roll the pastry over the rolling pin, then lay it over a 23-24-centimetre round tart tin with a removable base. Line the tin with the pastry, smoothly pressing it over the base and up the sides; leave about one centimetre of excess pastry hanging over the rim of the tin. Cover with cling film and chill in the freezer for at least an hour to let the pastry firm up.

2. Preheat the oven to 200C. Take the pastry case out of the freezer and remove the cling film. Line with baking parchment, then fill with baking beans. Blind bake for about 15 minutes or until the sides are lightly golden brown. Remove the baking beans and parchment, then return to the oven to bake for a further five minutes or until the pastry is lightly golden with no grey patches of uncooked pastry. Remove from the oven and trim off the excess pastry round the rim with a sharp knife. Set the pastry case aside. Lower the oven temperature to 180C.

3. For the filling, lightly beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs. Add the ground almonds and flour and fold through until evenly combined.

4. Spread a thin layer of raspberry jam over the base of the tart case, then fill it with the almond mixture. Sprinkle the flaked almonds evenly on top. Bake the tart for 25 to 35 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Leave to cool slightly before brushing the top with warm apricot jam, then leave to cool completely. Dust with icing sugar before serving.

Serves 8-10

Recipe & images from Social Sweets by Jason Atherton, published by Bloomsbury, $39.99. Out now.