One of my favourite places in the world is a little town two hours north-east of Cape Town called Montagu. It’s the sort of place you want to retire to immediately, even if you are not yet 40.
One of my favourite things about Montagu is waking up on a sunny Sunday and walking to the Montagu Country Hotel for breakfast. The highlight of the Montagu Country Hotel breakfast is the scones. Golden brown and slightly crispy on the outside; light, soft and fluffy on the inside. It didn’t matter how much I tried to resist, I always ate two and always thought longingly about eating a third.
It took me a while to summon the gumption to ask for the recipe but, with a thick spreading of flattery, the cook was persuaded to write down five ingredients on a scrap of paper:
- 500 ml buttermilk
- 1kg self raising flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- a pinch of salt
No instructions were provided, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out…
What to do
- Preheat the oven to 200 C.
- Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until they form a nice soft dough.
- Sprinkle some flour on a baking tray and press the dough out into a 5cm thick sheet. Cut into rounds using a mug or glass. (I do this on the baking tray to save cleaning up but you can do it on a floured counter top too.)
- Paint with buttermilk, milk or the egg white still left in the egg shells. (Use your finger if you don’t have a basting brush.)
- Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden on top. If you’re in doubt whether they’re ready, just break one in half to check.
- Serve hot with butter (not margarine. I will disown you if you use margarine on scones!), your favourite jam and – if you have it – double thick cream.
Since this is a hotel recipe, it makes about 5 million scones, so when I make this, I usually halve the quantities unless there are ravenous hordes in residence. Buttermilk comes in 500ml bottles, but it keeps practically forever, so you can stash the other half of the bottle in the fridge until the next time the scone urge hits.
Wine pairing suggestion
Aha! You thought scones don’t go with wine? Anything goes with this stuff – and what is Sunday brunch without bubbly, after all?
- 10 minutes preparation
- 15 minutes baking
- 1 bowl
- 1 baking tray
- 1 wooden spoon
- 1 glass/mug