Will it bend? Rachel Allen buttermilk scones

If your previous scone efforts have been of the Nokia 5 series indestructible brick varietal then this recipe is for  you. 

I’m a big fan of Rachel Allen and her buttermilk scones recipe is pretty internet-famous so I decided to give it a go, because it said ‘difficulty=easy’ on the page and making 'hard' scones that would turn out hard all sounded a bit hard. The secret is to RTFM on this one: do exactly what the recipe says and your scones will be a winner. 

Winning scone of champions and following instructions


Scone science is very complicated and controversial

There is much debate on the best raising agent to use for scones and the cream of tartar/buttermilk/bicarb soda science is what makes them non-Nokia so get all the things ready before you start and get the measurements exact

The buttermilk came fresh in a carton in the chilled section of the supermarket where you get milk

I had a conversion fail at the start going from grams to cups -US standard cup and AU standard cup are not the same so remember it’s fourish cups not 2ish cups of flour 125gms =cup, cup dependent of course

I used normal, plain flour and not 00 Italian pasta flour so that gets them even lighter if you can get that

I cut the dough out with a normal water glass because I didn’t have a scone cutter and it worked ok

Rachel Allen likes crispy golden brown bottoms

Don’t panic if they take a few minutes longer in the oven to go dark golden because I just about pulled them out too soon and then I went ‘no, I must trust Rachel at this critical time’ and they look good I think. Rachel Allen goes on about the crispy outside and bottoms and the soft middle which I didn’t really get before but I do now, it’s amazing and what makes them so different from the atrocities you get at Starbucks et al.

Squishy and soft hooray :)
Jam and cream for the full Queen experience

Will they bend? Nope these ones are not doughy nor brick-like in any way and I was pretty impressed with the colour and height on them, especially for a first attempt. Rubbing the butter into the flour takes ages but if you get organised, it's fast and the recipe makes a lot and you will feel talented and successful in your renewed scone making abilities. Seriously, stick to the recipe and (I even sifted the dry ingredients which I normally could never be bothered with) and you will be tapping crispy bottoms, just like Rachel. 


  • 500 g light Italian or plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 heaped tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 heaped tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 125 g chilled unsalted butter, cubed
  • 25 g caster sugar
  • egg, beaten
  • 275 ml buttermilk or milk, plus extra for the egg wash
  • 50 g caster or granulated sugar, (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 220C/gas 7. 

2. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cream of tartar and salt into a large bowl. Using your fingertips, rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and mix well. 

3. Set aside about a third of the beaten egg and combine the rest with the buttermilk, then add to the flour mixture and mix briefly to combine into a moist dough. Place on a lightly floured work surface and knead ever so slightly to bring together, then press or roll out to a thickness of 2cm. 

4. Using a 6cm round cutter, cut out approximately 12 scones and place on a floured baking tray. 

5. Add about a teaspoon or so of buttermilk to the remainder of the beaten egg to make an egg wash. Brush the scones with the egg wash (and dip the tops in sugar if you wish) and bake in the oven for 10–12 minutes or until golden brown on top. Serve while hot. 

Adapted from Rachel Allen, Bake (Collins)

Strawberry cloud cake: The profit is in the air

"The profit is in the air"

That's what the head of production used to say at my first job working in grocery sales for an ice cream brand.  The sugar, dairy and flavour mixture gets whipped up and then rapidly frozen so that the ice crystals contract. That's what makes the mixture creamy. The supply chain needs to keep the finished ice cream at a constant low temperature because as the ice crystals expand, the final product tastes icy. Too much cream and the product won't hold and it runs away (plus cream is expensive).  Too much water and the product tastes cheap and icy. 

So with that startling scientific insight you can now make this Annabel Langbein recipe with precision and skill. My beater isn't the $18 million one the factory had but it's the same concept. Whip up all the egg whites, sugar and strawberries and then freeze it on to a biscuit base. It's a nice change from all the heavy, winter Christmas desserts and it goes all fluffy and makes you feel you have some skills, even though you just stand there and hold the whizzer thing.  I just chopped some strawberries and icing sugar on the top because I couldn't be bothered making the berry syrup in the recipe. It's quite sweet anyway. The only other suggestion would be to keep the biscuit base really thin as it can be hard to cut through once it's frozen if you make it too thick.  Leave it to soften out of the freezer for a bit before you serve it and put any leftovers in a regular plastic ice cream container. Once you refreeze, it won't taste as good because the ice crystals expand and it tastes icy, but you know that now :)

Here's the recipe:

Prep time:

15 mins

Cook time:
4 hours (in the freezer)
  • 150g plain sweet biscuits (I used half a packet of Super Wine)
  • ½ cup desiccated coconut (I used threaded because it holds together better)
  • 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 100g butter, melted

To fill:

  • 2 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 250g (1 punnet) ripe strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

 To garnish: (I just used sliced strawberries and icing sugar)

  •  fresh raspberries

 Berry Syrup:

  • 3 cups raspberries, fresh or thawed from frozen
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp water

    Line the base of a 26-28cm spring form cake tin with baking paper or waxed paper. This makes it easy to lift the cake out later.

    Make the base by putting the biscuits in a brown paper bag and crushing them into crumbs by beating carefully with a rolling pin. Pour the crumbs into a medium bowl and add the coconut, cinnamon and melted butter. Stir well to combine.

    Press firmly into the base of the prepared tin. It doesn’t need to be a thick layer – just enough to cover the bottom of the tin. Refrigerate the base while you prepare the filling. 

    Place egg whites, sugar, sliced strawberries, lemon juice and vanilla in the clean, dry bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on high speed for about 6-8 minutes until the mixture is very thick and fluffy and the sugar has dissolved. To test whether it is ready, rub a bit of the mixture between your fingers. You should not feel any gritty sugar. If you do, beat a little longer. 

    Spoon the filling over the chilled base, smooth the top, cover with a sheet of baking paper and freeze for at least 4 hours. The cake will keep in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a month.

    To serve, cut cake into wedges using a knife that has been warmed in hot water. Garnish with fresh raspberries on top and drizzle with Berry Syrup to serve.

    Berry Syrup:

    Put the berries in a pot and add the sugar and water. Bring to a simmer. Remove the pot from the heat and press the berries through a sieve or mouli to extract the juice and remove the pips. Berry Syrup will keep for up to 10 days covered in the fridge.