Girdle Scones

The island of Eagles, that is how I will remember the Isle of Skye. It is even shaped a bit like a wing!

We have spent 5 days on the island in blissful spring weather, driving around, absorbing it’s beauty and drama. Most days were graced with the sight of a soaring Golden Eagle, such stunning birds.

We took a boat trip out from Portree to see the White Tailed {Sea} Eagles which have returned to the Island in the past few years after a long period of extinction from the British Isles. Our skipper was Peter, on the Brigadoon, and he couldn’t have been more of a star.

The day was cloudless and the sea was like a mirror, not the best conditions for eagles to fly, but fly they did. Wow. They swoop down for a fish thrown off the boat right before your eyes.

They are huge! Utterly incredible to witness {obviously these are wild creatures and this isn’t guaranteed, they might just stay up on the cliffs watching you!}

I was able to indulge in one of my favourite interests after the ordnance survey map of the south of the island revealed a {remains of} stone circle. A quick flick through Aubrey Burl’s A Guide to the Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany {always on the bookshelf in the van} showed it to be worth a visit, and the only circle on Skye.

It was three tall stones standing among some heather on the edge of a small lochan, with the Cuillins behind. The other stones were either fallen or buried. It was a bit of a trek over a peat bog to reach it but these are my prefered circles, no information boards, no signposts, no railings, just some ancient stones in an isolated, dramatic setting.

Stone circles for me represent continuity, people living and working the land over millennia, and I love their mystery, we don’t really understand them and we can only guess their purpose.

It seemed rather fitting to make these when we got back to the campsite. Girdle Scones, or something very similar probably go back hundreds of years and are a form of quickbread.

These are like a cross between a scone, of the baked variety, and soda bread, and ideal for campervan life as they don’t require an oven. Traditionally these would have been made on a griddle {girdle in Scottish dialect} but they work just as well in a modern non-stick frying pan.

I was inspired to figure out a recipe for these after chatting about them with my friend Kirsty, she had been trying out girdle scone recipes and substituted buttermilk  in one, they were a great success. Buttermilk would have been a by-product of making butter in the past and this is what reacts with the bicarbonate of soda to leaven the scones.

These took a batch or two to get the recipe right, one batch rose so much they I couldn’t get them to cook through!

Girdle Scones

I don’t how authentic my recipe is, but its simplicity is perfect for camping, I have added ‘camping’ measurements for those occasions when you don’t have a set of scales with you!

  • 250g plain flour {2 cups}
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 40g butter {a big heaped spoonful}
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten
  • 90 mls buttermilk {or 90 mls milk mixed with 2 tsp lemon juice and left to stand for 10 mins}

Put the flour and the bicarb into a large bowl and combine well, ideally sift them in. Rub in the butter {I used spreadable butter and that made this stage a doddle} using your fingertips until it appears to resemble very fine breadcrumbs.

Add the beaten egg and the buttermilk and either use a spoon to mix them in or just continue using your hands. Bring it together to form a soft, but not too wet, dough. Try not to over work it though. If it is a little on the wet side, add a wee bit more flour.

Onto a lightly floured surface, or I use a silicon mat which is ideal for this kind of thing, flatten the dough into a round approx 20 cms across. It needs to be no more than a centimetre in thickness, the thinner you make it, the quicker it will cook. If you want super-neat scones, roll the dough out with a rolling-pin, but I just form it with my hands. Using a sharp knife, cut the round into quarters.

Heat a teaspoon of oil in a frying pan, or griddle, and fry the scones. Keep the heat somewhere between low and moderate, enough to cook the scones through without burning them. They should rise. Flip them over and cook the other side, then stand them up and cook the edges for a minute or so. They should sound hollow when tapped.

Serve them warm, split and buttered, with jam, with soup or even with savoury toppings as a sandwich. They can be successfully split and toasted the following day too.

3 Responses

  1. kirsty says:

    ran out of plain flour last night and used a mix of plain & self raising flour instead. Nice light fluffy scones. Rhys took them to work with ham in.

  2. Very nice mixing the historical stone circles with the traditional girdle scones. Enjoyable read!