A couple of weeks ago my parents went to Northumberland on holiday and when they came back they gave me a present of a couple of bags of flour they’d bought from Heatherslaw Corn Mill, a 16ft water wheel-powered mill which dates back to the 19th century.
The restored mill machinery, which incorporates three pairs of millstones, produces high quality, stoneground wholemeal flour from wheat grown in the local area. One of the bags I received contained stoneground wholemeal spelt flour and I was really excited to try baking with it.
Spelt is an ancient cousin of modern wheat and was used by the Romans for their bread. Wholemeal spelt has a fresh, nutty flavour and can be used in all recipes and although it still contains gluten many people find it much more digestable than modern wheat.
I decided to make little wholemeal scones with the flour and I was really pleased with how they turned out. The nuttiness of the spelt really came through and the wholemeal aspect of the flour lent a lovely texture to the scones. I’d heartily recommend trying Heatherslaw’s spelt flour to any keen baker. You can buy online from the mill here. Of course, it’d be easier if I could just persuade Mum and Dad to go on holiday again so I can get some more flour…
450g Spelt flour
1 ½ tsps. baking powder
50g caster sugar
100g butter (cold and cubed)
100g sultanas or chopped glace cherries (optional)
1 egg (beaten)
Preheat your oven to 220°C, 425°F, gas mark 7.
Sift your flour into a large mixing bowl and add the sugar. Rub the butter into the flour and sugar until it resembles the texture of sand. Add in your fruit (if using).
Pour most of the egg and some of the milk into the flour mixture and start to mix it with a knife. Add more milk a little at a time until it has combined together to form a soft, but not sticky, dough. Each batch of flour is different, so you might need less milk than suggested or a little more flour. Just keep adding small amounts of what you need until you reach the desired consistency.
Form a ball with the dough and place it on a lightly floured work surface.
Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out until it’s no thinner than 3cm thick. (Any thinner and they’ll struggle to rise properly in the oven.)
Use a pastry cutter to cut out your scones, but don’t twist the cutter out of the dough otherwise the scones will not bake correctly and will come out of the oven with weird shapes. I like to use a plain pastry cutter, but you could use a crinkled pastry cutter if you’d prefer. (You can also get really handy double-edged pastry cutters which take up less space in your kitchen cupboards.)
Cut out as many scones as you can and place them on a baking sheet.
Bring the leftover dough together and cut out more scones. Continue to do so until you’ve used all of your dough. You’ll probably be left with one strangely shaped one at the end, but that’s fine – it’s the cook’s treat.
Glaze the scones with a bit of egg-wash if you like (it’ll give them a golden brown colour) and then bake them in the oven for 12–15 minutes.
They will be cooked when they have risen and are a golden colour. Let them cool down on a baking rack and then serve them with lots of butter, jam and (if you’re feeling devilish) clotted cream.