Sure what else would you be eating on St Patrick’s Day? This is comfort food at its best, ideal for a pre- or post parade snack.
In many homes across the world, particularly on St. Patrick’s Day, people of Irish descent, sit down together with a pot of tea and enjoy an Irish Scone.
For a quintessentially Irish treat, nothing beats a freshly baked, fluffy scone. It was “Sally O’Brien and the way she might look at you” that used to attract the tourists. Nowadays tourists are flocking to experience wild coasts, ancient ruins and Irish food. Though subtle culinary differences do exist between us and our close neighbours in Britain. Rather than high tea, Irish scones conjure images of a farmhouse kitchen, a wooden table and a ginormous pot of tae.
When I worked the morning shift in a kitchen, the scones were in the oven within 10 minutes of my arrival. All I had to do was crack some eggs, then pour them, along with milk, into the dry scone mixture (which I had prepared the day before). Every B&B in the country might make a fresh batch each morning if they knew how easy scones are to make.
Truly Irish scones are made in the fashion of white soda bread; combining plain flour, bread soda, salt and buttermilk. While delicious and fluffy when fresh, they are not as light and crumbly (and don’t stay as fresh) as a scone made with butter.
Bakers are divided on what constitutes the best scone recipe. Each ingredient can be substituted with an alternative, but with varying results. Once, while eavesdropping on two ladies swapping tips on scones, I was surprised to hear them agree their success was due to the use of strong flour.
Both agreed a very hot oven (220 degrees) gave the scones a good start. In true jeopardy style, they monitored the scones, reducing the temperature as soon as a tiny frill developed around the foot (before the lids burned).
With a hot oven, these scones do pop nicely. The raising agent used is baking powder, which reacts with the milk and egg to give a wonderful rise (not the lopsided Tower of Pisa that occurs when buttermilk is used in this recipe).
Our founder Vanessa Greenwood shares many of her favourite Irish recipes in a weekly recipe column. Here is the link to her popular family-friendly recipes in The Irish Times Magazine.