My Mom is an exceptional cook. She makes absolutely beautiful italian food and everyone says shes the best cook in the family. Unfortunately this does not translate into the world of desserts. She tried so hard for birthdays but I swear every cake she has ever made has fallen terribly in the centre and no matter what she does. She redeems herself though in the world of scones and pies, which have nearly the exact same procedure.

So I have very fond memories of scones, or cloud biscuits, as my Grandmother’s recipe calls them. The family recipe is made with shortening instead of butter, probably because the recipe dates back to the depression when butter was much to much of a luxury. It is also leavened with lots of baking powder. These scones are my adaptation of the scones at the inimitable Tartine Bakery in San Francisco. Made with butter and buttermilk they have more flavour and, when done correctly, are just as light.

The crucial thing with scones is the fat. Scones get their layers from big chunks of very cold butter going into a hot hot oven, causing the liquid to steam. The steam makes those beautiful pockets and layers of a perfect flaky scone. If you mix the butter to small or don’t chill it properly you get a Starbucks scone. And that makes no one happy. So be patient, let it chill properly and you’ll be amazed at what a scone can be!

Buttermilk Scones (adapted from Tartine Bakery)

2 1/2 cup AP Flour

2 tsp Baking Powder

1/4 tsp Baking Soda

2 tbsp Sugar

1 tsp Salt

1/2 cup Butter, very cold, cut into cubes

1 cup Buttermilk

  • Combine all dry ingredients
  • Cut in butter, squishing it with your hands until the pieces are about the size of a fava bean (bigger then a pea)
  • Slowly add in the buttermilk and mix until barely combined
  • Sprinkle some flower onto a board.
  • Fold dough onto surface, and fold in half. Press down and fold in half again. The dough should be quite malleable. When it begins to resist and start to feel a touch tough wrap with saran wrap and refrigerate for at least 1/2 an hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Unwrap dough and press it down until about 1 inch thick
  • Cut with a cookie cutter or into triangles with a knife.
  • Place onto a cookie tray and bake for about 20 minutes or until a deep amber colour forms on the top.
  • And eat eat eat!!