Q-What do you call a cake that goes really fast?
Jokes apart, Scones are the quintessential british treat. No high tea is complete without this innocuously plain looking thing. On my first look, I wasn’t impressed. A scone looks like a sort of mutant cross between between an overblown biscuit and a crumpet. Taste is however another matter altogether.
A fresh well-made scone is the stuff legends are about. And I am not exaggerating. Fresh and well-made scones are also hard to come by. No, that stuff you get in Tescos or even Waitrose? That is not what I am talking about. They are just substandard ‘kaala dhabbas’ (excuse my hinglish) on the name. The real beauty of a well-made scone lies in its absolute freshness and a light feather like crumbly texture. This is why it is impossible to get good scones in supermarkets. In my dictionary, a scone that isn’t fresh isn’t a scone worth eating.
Another thing that the romantic in me loves about scones (pronounced as ‘Skoans’) is that it wasn’t designed to be eaten alone. Just like it takes two to tango, a scone is best enjoyed in pairs with ladles of cream. And jam. Whoever said three is a crowd had never tried scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam. More is best when it comes to cream and jam topping on the scone (not the savoury ones of course but I’ll come on that a bit later). Yes, I am going to encourage you to treat your tastebuds and indulge in the cardinal sin of dollops of cream with that scone in your hand along with your evening cuppa tea. It’s the perfect tea-time quickbread to be enjoyed with friends and family. Interestingly, one of the ‘great scone confusions’ is what do you first put on a scone? Traditionally, its jam first, followed by cream. I prefer it that way too but then to each there own. Food is best experienced your own way!
So where really did this flat flat round fine flour cake originate? Some people say it took its name from the Stone of Destiny (or Scone), the place where Scottish kings were once crowned (and yes, there exists a palace of Scone). While others link its origins to the Welsh yeast cake ‘Baramaen’. The Oxford English Dictionary traces the word "scone" in print to 1513 to Aeneid, a book by Scot poet Gavin Douglas which describes the fine flour cake: The flour sconnis war sett in, by and by, wyth other mesis.' Others say it derives from from the Dutch or German words for ‘fine/beautiful bread’ (‘Schoonbrot’ and ‘Schonbrot’, respectively) or from the Gaelic ‘Sgon’, meaning ‘large mouthful’. No matter the origin, the Scot connection to this English pride is unmissable.
Some people even say that the best and different varieties of Scones are to be had in Scotlands and highlands. In lower regions of the country though (namely Oxford), the best Scones I’ve had till date are served at Old Parsonage Hotel on Banbury Road. Having tried Scones at various tea cafeterias and hotels reputed to have best scones inside of Oxford, I have to admit none comes close to the ones served at The Old Parsonage. Even Grand Café, England’s oldest coffeehouse serves scones that are pale in comparison and taste. Scones ofcourse come in different flavours in sweet and savoury range. I'll be trying lots of them soon. However, one thing is certain, a well-baked scone will always have you 'dil maange more'. Always! ;)