Post by Alison Hein.
My mother-in-law, Jeannie, obtained this traditional Irish scone recipe from Mrs. O’Callaghan herself in 1961. Jeannie began baking Mrs. O’Callaghan’s delicious scones as a young newlywed, and has continued to do so for the past 50 years! My husband and his siblings still clamor for them whenever they visit their mother.
Who was Mrs. O’Callaghan? She was my mother-in-law’s sister-in-law’s mother-in-law. Funny, I know, but true. Jeannie has modified Mrs. O’Callaghan’s recipe slightly over the years – she adds 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds instead of the original teaspoon, bakes the scones in round cake pans instead of an old-fashioned cast iron frying pan, and skips the buttermilk brushed on top after baking.
I decided to keep Jeannie’s extra caraway seeds, use Mrs. O’Callaghan’s frying pan, and add my own twist of golden raisins. Even with variations, this is a remarkably easy and wonderful recipe. It takes only minutes to mix up the butterless batter, and the long baking time is made easier by the heavenly, wafting aroma that emanates from the kitchen. The scones rise high in the oven, and finish with a consistency light and even, and a flavor balanced by sweet raisins and savory caraway.
While I never had the good fortune to meet Mrs. O’Callaghan, I recently came to know some of her grandchildren. They too have slightly modified their Nan’s recipe over the years, but all still continue to bake, infusing their homes with delightful aromas and making wonderful memories for the next generation. A breakfast in bed to remember.
3 cups flour
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1½ cups buttermilk
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup raisins (or golden raisins)
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
Preheat oven to 350°. In large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir baking soda into buttermilk. Pour buttermilk mixture and lightly beaten egg into dry ingredients and mix just to combine. Batter should be thick but spreadable. Stir in raisins and caraway seeds.
Grease and flour a 10-inch cast iron frying pan. Spread batter evenly in pan. Place in oven and bake until scones are nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in top comes out clean, about 50 to 60 minutes. Alternatively, grease and flour two round 8-inch cake pans. Divide batter evenly between the two pans and reduce baking time to about 45 minutes.
Remove scone from pan and brush top with a little buttermilk, if you like. Wrap immediately in a tea towel so scones remain warm and soft. When ready to serve, cut scone in wedges. Serve warm with good Irish butter.
Makes 12 to 14 scones.