Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers’ host. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (a/k/a biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens!
The basic scone.
Quite innocent looking, really. Just some flour, rising agent, butter and milk.
It should be easy, shouldn’t it?
But to many it isn’t. That’s probably why scones are also known as “rock cakes”. To many creating the perfect scone can seem elusively beyond their reach. Which is where Audax comes in and our latest Daring Bakers challenge, the first for 2012.
What a great way to start off the year. Scones are made from basic ingredients and the recipe supplied was small so that meant it was cheap and could be made many times over in the aim to achieve the perfect scone!
Scones were one of the first recipes taught to me in my Home Economics class. The “rubbing-in” technique was being learnt. That is, the rubbing in of butter into the flour. Apparently, according to my teacher, the process is to coat each flour grain is with butter. As you rub the butter in you should lift the butter and flour out of the bowl to aerate the mixture and only use fingertips which are the coolest part of the hand . I still remember my teacher examining our hands to check that our palms remained free of flour or butter lest our hot palms melt the butter.
This month Audax became our Home Economics teacher. And very experience he was too, having tested the recipe 16 times! Audax has a different method to keep everything cool – use frozen, grated butter! This certainly does help but you still need to only use you fingertips to do the rubbing in. Thanks Audax for hosting this months challenge.
 Scones are always so appreciated in our home! 
Basic Scones (a.k.a. Basic Biscuits)
Servings: about eight 2-inch (5 cm) scones or five 3-inch (7½ cm) scones
Recipe can be doubled (I doubled this recipe)
Ingredients:
1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm/5 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (10 gm) (⅓ oz) fresh baking powder
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1½ gm) salt
2 tablespoons (30 gm/1 oz) frozen grated butter (or a combination of lard and butter)
approximately ½ cup (120 ml) cold milk
optional 1 tablespoon milk, for glazing the tops of the scones

Directions:1. Preheat oven to very hot 475°F/240°C/gas mark 9.
2. Triple sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. (If your room temperature is very hot refrigerate the sifted ingredients until cold.)
3. Rub the frozen grated butter (or combination of fats) into the dry ingredients until it resembles very coarse bread crumbs with some pea-sized pieces if you want flaky scones or until it resembles coarse beach sand if you want tender scones.
4. Add nearly all of the liquid at once into the rubbed-in flour/fat mixture and mix until it just forms a sticky dough (add the remaining liquid if needed). The wetter the dough the lighter the scones (biscuits) will be!
5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, lightly flour the top of the dough. To achieve an even homogeneous crumb to your scones knead very gently about 4 or 5 times (do not press too firmly) the dough until it is smooth. To achieve a layered effect in your scones knead very gently once (do not press too firmly) then fold and turn the kneaded dough about 3 or 4 times until the dough has formed a smooth texture. (Use a floured plastic scraper to help you knead and/or fold and turn the dough if you wish.)
6. Pat or roll out the dough into a 6 inch by 4 inch rectangle by about ¾ inch thick (15¼ cm by 10 cm by 2 cm thick). Using a well-floured 2-inch (5 cm) scone cutter (biscuit cutter), stamp out without twisting six 2-inch (5 cm) rounds, gently reform the scraps into another ¾ inch (2 cm) layer and cut two more scones (these two scones will not raise as well as the others since the extra handling will slightly toughen the dough). Or use a well-floured sharp knife to form squares or wedges as you desire.
7. Place the rounds just touching on a baking dish if you wish to have soft-sided scones or place the rounds spaced widely apart on the baking dish if you wish to have crisp-sided scones. Glaze the tops with milk if you want a golden colour on your scones or lightly flour if you want a more traditional look to your scones.
8. Bake in the preheated very hot oven for about 10 minutes (check at 8 minutes since home ovens at these high temperatures are very unreliable) until the scones are well risen and are lightly coloured on the tops. The scones are ready when the sides are set.
9. Immediately place onto cooling rack to stop the cooking process, serve while still warm.
The scones should be well risen with golden brown tops.
I think this is called a “tender crumb”. I just call it fluffy and delicious!
I made a variation of Cheese and Parsley by following the Basic recipe above but adding ¼ teaspoon of baking soda, after Step 2, 50 gm grated cheese, 25gm parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley into the sifted ingredients, in Step 3 aim of beach sand sized pieces of fat coated in flour, in Step 5 knead the dough, form into a round and cut into wedges, spread apart slight on the baking tray, sprinkle the wedges with cracked pepper.
Cheese and Parsley Scones welcomed my hungry, teenage children home from school
On Australia Day (26th January) I converted the scone recipe to make a damper by substituting half the milk for water and only adding enough liquid to make a firm dough.
Edited 29-01-2012: Damper is a traditional Australian quick bread originally made by stockmen moving cattle who were away from home for weeks at a time with only basic provisions on hand – flour, sugar, tea and whatever meat was available. Mix quickly and bake on the campfire it accompanied the meat or was spread with golden syrup, if it was to hand. Nowdays, leavening is used along with milk and butter.   
The damper had a different crumb to that of the scone – much tighter but tender and delicious!
My son enjoy his damper with Vegemite.
Instead the rest of us enjoyed the sweet stickiness of golden syrup.