My uncle Sam and I went to Japan and made just shy of 15,000 scones by hand, and this is the recipe we used. You can prepare the mixture a little ahead of time, up to the point of adding the liquid. Once the baking powder gets wet, however, it starts its work and you need to move quickly to get the scones in the hot oven. For a light scone, a wetter dough is best. Don’t over-handle the dough mixture or the gluten in the flour will start to make them tough.
Combine the flour and sugar in a bowl. Add the butter and rub in until you have a texture like fine breadcrumbs. Add the salt and baking powder. You can prepare this far in advance.
When you are ready to bake the scones, heat the oven to 210º/Gas 7. If you have a baking stone, put it in the oven now to heat up. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Pour the mixture into the flour and butter mixture. If you want fruited scones, now is the time to add the sultanas. With a few light turns of your hands, bring the mixture together as a dough.
Turn the dough out on to a floured work surface and lightly press out to about an inch (2.5cm) deep. Dust the top with flour and use a 3-inch (7.5cm) cutter to press out your scones. (With a smaller cutter, you’ll get more scones. I like to use a fluted one.)
Place the scones on the baking tray, leaving a small place between each for them to expand. Brush the tops with a beaten egg and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the tops and bottoms are golden and the sides are still pale.
Split open while warm and eat with clotted cream and jam.
Tom’s tips: A baking stone beneath the baking tray will give you a better bottom and more lift. For extra shine, take the scones out after 5 minutes and give them an extra brush with egg. A gorgeous glaze is more important than an even shape. You can also make the scones and freeze them before baking. When ready to eat, bake them from frozen.
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