My co-workers and I are all a-flutter as the U.S. premiere of the new season of “Downton Abbey” approaches! We’re all fans-even the male deputy director of the Library, who I would actually categorize as a “super-fan!” Shameless plug: Our excitement is doubled by an impending visit by Jessica Fellowes, niece of series creator and writer Lord Julian Fellowes, and author of the series companion books!
Last year, I did a series of Downton-Abbey themed recipes. But I neglected to make a good scone recipe and I decided it was high time!
This version comes from Mrs. Wilson’s Cookbook, Numerous Recipes based on Present Economic Conditions, published in 1920. Mrs. Wilson was a cooking instructor for the U.S. Navy and ran a cooking school in Philadelphia. And while the inhabitants of Downton Abbey may not have been so concerned with frugality, this recipe would undoubtedly have been an easy staple in Mrs. Pattmore’s kitchen. It’s very simple and can be embellished, as I did, by adding “fillings” like dried cranberries or chocolate chips. I also made a simple milk and sugar glaze to give them a little extra sweetness but they taste wonderful without it… or maybe with a little jam, clotted cream, or butter!
4 cups of flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 tablespoons of sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 level tablespoons of shortening
1 egg, beaten
1 1/4 cup milk
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Place flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in mixing bowl and combine. Add shortening one tablespoonful at a time, combining as you go along.
Add one-half of the beaten egg to the milk and combine well, then add that to the flour mixture and combine. A soft dough will form.
Flour a surface and your hands and remove the dough from the mixing bowl. Knead it for three minutes, adding flour a little bit at a time until the dough is no longer sticky. Divide the dough into five balls. You can either shape these and place them right on a cookie sheet lined with greased parchment OR you can place a spoonful of filling (cranberries, dates, raisins, chocolate chips, figs, jam, caramel) in the middle, then pinch the ends together and form the ball.
Using a pizza cutter, cut each dough ball into four, triangle-shaped sections. Brush the remaining egg over the top. Sprinkle a bit of sugar over the dough if you like!
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the scones comes out clean.
To glaze: Allow scones to cool slightly. Mix 1/2 cup of powdered sugar with 1-2 tablespoons of milk in a small bowl. Using a spoon, drizzle the glaze over the tops of the scones. Let the glaze set for a few minutes before serving.