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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I Call Them Raisin Buns But You May Know Them As Scones


I've had this tea bun recipe since I started teaching away back in 1976 and I've made it hundreds of times since then.  I've changed it a little over the years but it's basically the same recipe.  The home economics teacher passed it on to me after I told her they were the best I'd ever had.  I do believe this was one of the recipes she had used with her class and that's probably where I was eating them.  These tea buns are actually scones and not buns or biscuits.  Scones usually contain eggs, sugar and milk while biscuits are not usually as sweet and may not contain any sugar at all.  And biscuits don't have as much liquid and often don't contain eggs.  As well, scones are more cake-like than a biscuit because of the extra liquid.  But where I live they are referred to as tea buns or raisin buns and are eaten any time of the day, usually with a cup of tea or glass of milk. 


My mother pronounced "scone" like the Scots with a short ŏ as in the word "gone" which I suspect was because of her Scottish heritage.  My great-grandparents were immigrants from Scotland and Mom remembered them well from her childhood.  She would often tell stories of her grandfather, working in his butcher shop on Gower Street in St. John's, and she'd mimic his accent when telling the stories.  I guess it's not too much of a jump to connect her pronunciation of "scŏne" with daily contact with her grandparents. 

Whatever you want to call these, don't forget to call them "tasty".  They make a great addition to breakfasts, snacks and lunchboxes.  They're sweet enough to be eaten just as they are or may be split and served with butter and/or jam.  Don usually eats them "naked" (the bun, not Don) without any spread but I like a little butter on mine.  Of course, they're always best served warm from the oven.


Raisin Tea Buns
3 cups flour
3 heaping teaspoons baking powder
½ cup white sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter
1 tablespoon shortening, optional (I don't see any difference with or without the shortening.)
1 cup raisins
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 ¼ cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Lightly grease or line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 

Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Cut in the butter and shortening until the size of peas. Mix in the raisins.  In a small bowl or large measuring cup mix the beaten egg, milk and vanilla together.  Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the milk mixture.  Lightly mix until everything is moistened.    

Turn out on a lightly floured surface and gently knead 6 or 7 times, using a little more flour if needed, until dough clings together and can be rolled or patted out.   Pat or roll dough about 1-inch thick and cut with a floured biscuit cutter.  Place on prepared cookie sheet and bake 20 minutes. 

Makes 18-24 buns.  Of course, this depends on the size of your cutter.  

These are just as good with currants, dried blueberries or cranberries, etc.  

For plain buns, leave out the raisins and serve with jam and clotted cream (or Fussell's canned cream will do nicely).


Mix the dry ingredients with the butter and shortening until mealy. A pastry cutter makes fast work of the butter and is much easier to clean than a food processor.  Then mix in the raisins. 1 tablespoon is equal to 3 teaspoons so I use a very heaping tablespoon of baking powder.

Add vanilla and egg to the milk and mix well.  Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the milk and egg.  Combine until moistened and then turn out on a floured surface and gently knead a few times until the dough holds together.


Pat or roll the dough and cut with a floured biscuit cutter.  If you don't have a cutter use a flour dipped drinking glass.  Place the buns on the prepared cookie sheet--close together for soft-sided buns or leave a space between them if you like them crusty all the way around.  Bake in a hot oven 20 minutes until golden brown.  

 What a lovely pan of raisin buns! 

Raisin Bun or Scone?
You tell me.

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