Elyn’s Scottish Scones with dates and raisins

Ha! These truly have my name on them because the recipe is my own.  I made dozens of recipes before I settled on this one.

They are airy and light, not sweet, and have a satisfying crust.  They are best hot out of the oven.  I have tasted better ones once, on the ferry boat between the Isle of Skye to the island of South Uist in the Hebrides, but I think it might have been the fact that we were very hungry, out in the cold salt air, and they were hot out of the oven and slathered with butter and jam.   These are good enough!  I have people who beg me to make them.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F / 200 C
4 cups flour (you could substitute 1/2 – 1 cup of oatmeal for one cup of the flour)
2 Tablespoons sugar (not needed if you add dates)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar (or else one tablespoon of baking powder instead of soda and tartar)

Mix all this together.  Make a crater/well/depression (what do you call this?)  in the flour, and add to it:
1 egg
a squirt of oil
1 and ½ to 2 cups milk.  It varies depending on the flour.  The dough should be soft.

Mix the egg up while it is still in the crater.  Then add the milk and mix it further with the whole mountain of flour.  It should be soft and sticky, but holding its shape.  There is more on this below –

Add dates, cut into pieces and raisins – as many as you like, but 1 cup is about right.  Using a mix of dates and raisins instead of white sugar makes the scones less sweet.

The dough should be soft, and make sure you don’t mix it too much.  Mixing kills the baking powder, and makes it rise poorly.  Just barely enough.  A tiny bit of un-mixed-in flour is okay.

Add the dates before it is fully mixed so that by the time it really is mixed up, the dates (8-15) are blended in too.  It is the dates that make these scones so awesome.

Also, make sure the dough is soft enough.  In fact, it should be soft enough so that it is a bit hard to handle.  A dry, thick dough makes nasty scones.

Put half the dough into a blob on some flour, sprinkle some flour on top, and pat into a circle.  Cut into 8 pieces.  Makes 16.  Cook at 400 F for 15 minutes.

They freeze really well, so if you don’t finish the whole lot, then you can cut them into halves and freeze them.  Pop them in the toaster and they defrost quickly and taste as delicious as ever.

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