The Problem With English Scones, According To Nancy Silverton - Exclusive

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When chef and restaurant owner Nancy Silverton was putting together her cookbook, "The Cookie That Changed My Life," she wanted it to serve as a one-stop reference for well-known, classic baked goods. There was one problem, however: She didn't actually enjoy some iconic treats. One example that gave her a lot of trouble was traditional English scones.

As Silverton told Tasting Table in an exclusive interview, when she experimented with British scone recipes, "They were very dry and very tough because some of them had lard in them and some of them had eggs in them — some of them had both — but whatever it was, it was unfamiliar to my palate." In addition, she found that traditional scones came out of the oven too pale for her taste. "When you see a scone that's so pale, it's so unattractive to me. Also when it's so smooth on top and perfect-looking, it doesn't even melt a little in the oven, and it gives that feeling of dryness."

Old-fashioned English scones taste good when used as vehicles for jam and clotted cream, but Silverton wanted to make a recipe that stood up on its own, without straying too far from the English formula. Eventually, she found a solution.

How Nancy Silverton updated English scones

One of the reasons that scone recipes are so dry is because they call for lard, which Nancy Silverton eliminated to make a moister end product. But perhaps even more important than swapping out the cooking fat was Silverton's change to how her scones were built. Unlike classic English scones, which have perfect, smooth, milky-white exteriors, Silverton chose to make her scones rough and irregular.

"I chopped up that scone dough, and I almost loosely packed it back together and then baked it so it has a much lumpier look to it," she explained. The increase in surface area gave more opportunity for browning in the oven. Ultimately, Silverton was satisfied with her updated English scone recipe, though it's still probably not her favorite from the book. "It's still definitely a little bit tougher and a little drier than the other versions of what I call the American scones, but not quite as dry as my earlier attempts."

"The Cookie That Changed My Life" is available in bookstores and from Amazon now.