Scones are a tradition on nearly every Irish breakfast table. The secret to making a good scone is to use cold fats and work them into the flour before melting; the added step of “laminating” the dough adds more lovely layers. The technique is quite simple. With a few ordinary ingredients and a light gluten-free flour blend, this recipe produces tender, flaky pastry. Enjoy these scones with Irish butter, your favorite jam or a dollop of yogurt. Associate editor Jules Shepard is author of Free For All Cooking (DaCapo Perseus), The First Year: Celiac Disease and Living Gluten-Free (DaCapo Perseus), and Nearly Normal Cooking for Gluten-Free Eating (CreateSpace). Her books are available at GlutenFreeAnd More.com.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cut 10 tablespoons butter into small cubes, about 1/4 inch in size. Place them in a bowl in the freezer while you prepare dry ingredients.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour blend, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add 10 tablespoons cold butter by cutting it in with a pastry cutter or 2 butter knives until pea-size pieces of butter are scattered evenly throughout flour mixture.
In a separate bowl, combine milk and honey. Slowly add to flour mixture, stirring with a fork until a ragged dough forms. Dough should hold together when squeezed lightly. If it doesn’t, stir in an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons milk with a fork. Do not overwork the dough.
Transfer dough to a clean counter or pastry mat dusted with gluten-free flour. Pat to flatten. Then gently roll dough into a rectangle about 8x12 inches, with the long side facing you.
Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a small pan or in the microwave until softened (not melted). Spread evenly over dough with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle raisins evenly on top and press gently into dough.
Fold bottom third of dough up over the center line. Fold the top third down to meet the bottom edge, as if folding a letter. Then fold in half crosswise. Using a rolling pin, gently flatten into a 4x8-inch rectangle. Cut dough into 8 equal rectangles, squares or triangles.
Arrange on prepared pan, leaving 2 inches between each piece. Sprinkle tops generously with demerara sugar, if using, or sprinkle lightly with flaky sea salt, if using.
Place scones in preheated oven and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
When done, remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.