Sensory Overload and a Recipe for Simple Scones


Jon’s mum and dad came to stay with us last week. They live on the Isle of Skye, where most of their view is sea and clouds and trees and streams in which otters frolic about merrily.

Our view is mostly other apartment windows, a busy sidewalk, constant traffic, and the odd strutting pigeon. Undeterred, his parents set off into the day to see what could be seen. Up 30 Rock. Into the Met. Around MoMA. Through the library. Out to Dia Beacon. Into the Bronx to see the orchids. Out to Brooklyn for pizza and cherry blossoms.

“I swear to God,” said Jon, “I can go multiple weekends without leaving Chelsea.”

Though they showed no signs of it, but just in case, I baked scones to stave off potential homesickness. Some plain, some with extra grated orange zest and a handful of dried cranberries. Both highly acceptable to the house.

2 cups of flour
1/4 cup of sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup of fat — a 50:50 mixture of unsalted butter and vegetable shortening (fridge cold)
1 egg
1/2 cup of milk
1 cup of whipping (heavy) cream
2 tsp confectioner’s sugar (icing sugar)
Strawberry jam

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F
  • Cut the butter and shortening into cubes
  • Tip the dry ingredients into a bowl and add the fat
  • Using your fingertips (or a food processor on pulse), rub the fat into the flour mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs
  • Add the egg, mix gently with a metal spoon (or pulse once or twice in the processor) — you really don’t want to overmix now, or the glutens in the flour will develop and you’ll get rock-hard scones
  • Add the milk a spoonful at a time until the mixture comes together — you might not need all of it
  • Tip onto a floured board and roll out to about 1 inch thick (add orange and cranberries or whatever add-ins you like if using)
  • Use a floured cutter or the rim of a glass to cut out the scones
  • Brush the tops with milk or egg and sprinkle with a little bit of sugar
  • Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, depending on the size of the scone, until they are golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes on a cooling rack
  • Add the confectioner’s sugar to the cream, then whip until soft and billowing
  • Slice the scones in half, spread with jam, dollop on some cream, and eat