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The Baking Powder Plot

The ladies of Laois are up in arms. Well, one lady at any rate.

My brother (and Laois resident), Tom, is responsible. Him and his scones, that is.

Tom's scones

The scones in question

My brother is quite the baker, you see. He makes a mean apple tart and scones that are remarked upon by all who partake. And partake they do. While not strictly part of his job description as manager of a local heritage centre, he regularly whips up batches of said scones for the patrons of the centre’s coffee shop.

He relates a story where one group of visiting ladies, upon being served, and approving muchly of some jammy, creamy scones, enquired as to their origin. They expressed surprise, nay, disbelief that Tom was the baker responsible. (One supposes that, in the collected ranks of their husbands, brothers, fathers and sons, they had not a scone-mason among them).

Scones And Redcurrant Jelly

I made them myself, honest

One lady asked, accusingly, for the recipe. Not, I surmise, out of genuine interest in the method, but propelled by her sense of civic duty into exposing Tom as a charlatan and faker baker.

When he mentioned that he used both self-raising flour and baking powder, she felt the evidence against him mounting. When he got to the bit about adding buttermilk, the case, in her mind, was closed, for she could comprehend neither why you would add baking powder, having already used self-raising flour, nor why you would use buttermilk, having used baking powder. However, rather than come out with his hands up, Tom continued with his description, quite unruffled, and it slowly dawned on his accuser that he might, indeed, be a scone maker after all. She perhaps understood him best when he delivered his inevitable summation, which was simply to say “but that’s why mine taste better than yours”. Her case collapsed – rather, one suspects, like her own scones.

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Tom’s Scones

These scones are an altogether lighter and more delicate affair than the substantial triangular blocks that operate under the name of scone in the US and are sold by at least one well-known chain of coffee shops. Just slightly sweet, these scones make a great destination for a knob of butter or blob of jam. They’re best eaten fresh, though they will keep in an airtight tin for a few days. You can use margarine in this recipe if you like, though I prefer to make them with butter and I add a wee pinch of salt over and above Tom’s original formula. The recipe is also easily halved if you just want a small supply.

The Summary:

  • This makes around 14 x 6cm round scones & takes approx. 15 min to prep + 15 min to bake
You’ll need:
  • 450g self-raising flour
  • 1 heaped tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 100g butter, chilled and cut into small cubes, or soft margarine
  • 90g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 7 tblsp buttermilk
You’ll also need:
  • For round scones, you’ll need a round cutter (mine was about 6cm diameter), or you could just use a very sharp knife to cut the scones into triangles or squares; plus you’ll need a large baking sheet
The Steps:
  • Preheat your oven to 200C (or 190C for a fan oven)
  • Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl and whisk together well.
  • Rub in the butter or margarine until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  • Stir in the caster sugar.
  • Break the eggs into another bowl and add the buttermilk. Lightly whisk with a fork, just breaking the eggs, and add to the dry ingredients.
  • Mix gently with a wooden spoon until a dough forms and pulls cleanly away from the sides of the bowl.
  • Turn out onto a floured surface and pat lightly into a round about an inch thick. Don’t knead.
  • Cut rounds using a metal cutter, flouring after each cut. Don’t twist the cutter but use a straight downward action. Try not to handle the dough too much when gathering any uncut scraps together to make the remaining scones. Alternatively, cut the dough into triangles or squares using a sharp, floured knife.
  • Place the scones on a floured baking tray and lightly dust the tops with flour.
  • Bake for about 15 minutes until lightly browned.
  • Split the scones, spread with butter, jam, cream (or all three) and enjoy.
The Variations:
  • You can, of course, add spices, such as a teaspoon of cinnamon, to the flour, or stir in some dried fruit when you’re adding the caster sugar.


  1. jenn

    Love the story. The lady seemed so insistent on your brother being a fake baker. What’s even better is when he remarked about his scones being better. LOL!!

    Now I’ve got to make these for myself, so that I can have a taste of these awesome scones.

  2. Susan @ SGCC

    Those scones look so light, they should have wings! A very lovely recipe. I have just one question. Is your brother married? I have a few scone-loving friends who’d like to know! ;)

  3. Daily Spud

    jenn: it gave me a great laugh when I heard the story first – I hope I’ve done it (and the scones) justice :)

    Susan: Hey there – great to hear from you! Unfortunately for your friends I must report that my brother is indeed well married. In fact his wife, daughters or even the man himself could be reading this, so I’d better get his status established straight away :D

  4. Raluca

    Need to try these! They look good and your story sounds good, so my guess: they’re delicious.

  5. heather

    i wish i had a brother like that! those scones look amazing!

  6. lisaiscooking

    Those scones look incredible! By the look of them, your brother knows very well what he’s doing. I have to try this recipe.

  7. OysterCulture

    What a fun read, and it makes me wish I could have tried said scones. Now I’ll at least have the chance to make them for myself.

  8. Whitney @ Lettuce Love

    I swoon …

  9. The Duo Dishes

    “but that’s why mine taste better than yours”


    That’s all one has to say to shut the case. Your brother’s hilarious, and those scones look like they’d be good for tomorrow’s breakfast.

  10. Jenni

    Wow, way to represent for Team Testosterone, Tom:)

    ‘Cept for the eggies, these scones would almost be called biscuits in the US. Light and fluffy, they sound! Bring on the butter and jam, ma’am!

    PS Yay, you, for upping the salt a bit. But you knew I’d say that….

  11. Daily Spud

    Raluca: I think you guessed right :D

    heather: oh he’s a good ‘un alright, you can be sure of that

    lisaiscooking: I think he does know very well – a lot of testing goes into his baked goods from what I can see

    OysterCulture: I guess having the recipe is the next best thing :)

    Whitney: hope you didn’t hurt yourself when you swooned :D

    Duo Dishes: yep, case closed with that statement (and I can confirm that the scones do make for very good breakfast fare…)

    Jenni: indeed, scones here are much closer in nature to what are called biscuits in the US (and what we call biscuits here are cookies over there) – still, if they’re light and fluffy and taste good, who cares what you call ’em! (and, yes, I know you’d say that about the salt :D)

  12. Mrs Ergül

    Hi! I had been on the lookout for a good scone recipe until I found the one that worked for me. Even then, sometimes I feel that the taste of baking powder is too strong. With the use of both baking powder and self-raising flour, will the taste of baking powder be too overpowering??

  13. GrilledShane

    These DEFINITELY do not look like the scones I am used to. Those are like hockey pucks that I would prefer to hit with a stick then stick in my mouth. As Jenni said, these look much more like biscuits and much more appetizing.

  14. Tangled Noodle

    These are definitely superior scones to the true charlatans of this story: the brick-like-in-texture-if-not-in-shape baked triangles so common here. Your brother sounds like a true ‘scone-mason’. I’ll attempt these myself but if they don’t turn out, would Tom consider taking on an apprentice?

  15. Sophie

    I always use baking powder in my scones! But you know that by know!!

    Your scones look excellent to me, I think!!

    Perfect treats!

  16. French Cooking for Dummies

    I love scones but the ones I tried to make always end up being very dry :-( I’ll give your recipe a try, it looks excellent!

  17. Daily Spud

    Mrs Ergül: I don’t find the baking powder overpowering in this case – though I guess tastes, flours and powders can vary, so it’s probably something that you have to try for yourself to really know

    GrilledShane: definitely much more like your US biscuits than hockey pucks :D

    Tangled Noodle: I had to stop ordering scones when I was in the US because they were never close to what I actually wanted, which was something more like these guys; as for the apprenticeship, if that meant you taking a trip over here, why then I’d be all for that!

    Sophie: thanks – a nice scone with butter, jam and a cup of tea is a perfect morning treat in my book

    French Cooking for Dummies: hope the recipe works out for you!

  18. Ange

    Tried this for the first time tonight Lovely recipe Ta. T & E :)

  19. Daily Spud

    You’re welcome Ange x

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