In the Sept. 2007 issue of the Atlantic, there's an article entitled "The Secret of the Irish Scone." There's a wonderful discussion about what makes a scone great, and how most scones sold in America are really rock cakes (and most Americans don't have a clue what a real scone should be like). The article also gives a recipe for a classic scone from Jimmy Griffin, a fourth-generation baker from Galway. Griffin's secret is to avoid the whole challenge of mixing cold butter/shortening into flour by using liquid fat -- olive oil, if you can believe it! But it makes for a much lighter, more traditional scone, and makes up for the fact that (1) most of us don't have the knack for mixing butter into flour properly, and (2) you can't buy the right flour in America (it's just not sold here). This recipe is worth a try.
- Preheat oven to 500. (Yes, 500 F.) Place rack in the middle of the oven.
- Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray, or cut a piece of parchment paper to fit it.
- Whisk the two eggs (for the glaze) together in a small bowl and set aside.
- Combine flour with baking powder and salt. Sift five times. (Yes, that may sound excessive, but it doesn't take long and it makes for a lighter scone.) Set aside.
- Whisk together the buttermilk, olive oil, sugar, and egg.
- Moving very quickly (have all your ingredients ready to go), mix liquid ingredients into flour. This will immediately start to activate the baking powder, so don't loiter! Make a well in the middle of the sifted flour, pour in the milk/oil mixture, and sprinkle the raisins on top. Blend together with a wooden spoon, as lightly as you can.
- Turn dough out onto a large sheet of waxed paper and cover with another sheet of waxed paper. Pat it into a rough rectangle about one inch high.
- Remove the top sheet of waxed paper, scatter the frozen raspberries over half the rectangle, and fold the other half of the rectangle over the raspberries.
- Cover again with waxed paper and pat the rectangle until it is an even 1.5" high.
- Remove the top sheet of waxed paper and cut the dough into rounds with a 3" round cookie cutter.
- Transfer biscuits on to the cookie sheet with a spatula dipped in flour, spacing them about 2" apart.
- Glaze the tops with the beaten egg mixture. Refrigerate scones for 15 minutes, then glaze the scones again.
- Turn the oven temperature down to 425°F Bake for 18 minutes. Don't bake any longer, even if you're tempted to!
- Cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
- Scones will stay moist for about two days. They freeze well. They're best served warm, with good butter and jam.