Great British Bake Off gives rise to scones, relaxation

The above scones were baked to serve at a Vassar Food Community event. Freshly baked scones radiate the same warm energy that the Great British Bake Off does, albeit through love and care. Courtesy of Kathryn Burke/Akansha Goel

“On your mark, get set, bake!” Co-host Sue Perkins’s lilting British accent is light-hearted. From a fun family past-time during high school to a late-night reprieve from studying during college, the Great British Bake Off (GBBO) has become my go-to for a feel-good hour of baking entertainment.

Like many competition television programs, GBBO takes amateur culinary enthusiasts and puts them together to compete for the title of champion. However, unlike the highly competitive spectacles I’ve seen in U.S. cooking competition shows, the atmosphere of GBBO is amiable and full of loving support. The contestants are passionate about baking and approach each challenge with intense focus and precision, but there is none of the petty drama that often arises in other competition shows. Rather than a cutthroat race to the top, GBBO radiates the friendly warmth of bakers trying to test out new flavor combinations or cookie architecture. For me, watching GBBO offers the comfort of curling up on the couch with a cup of tea, whereas the stress of American based programs evokes the panicked feeling of scarfing down breakfast before dashing off to an early morning class.

Beyond my preference for the calming vibes of GBBO, I also adore the wonderful creations of sugar, flour and butter that the talented bakers present each week. As an avid baker myself, I am inspired by the inventive ideas and careful calculations that contestants test out: cardamom pear buns, smoky jalapeño bread, hazelnut espresso cookies. Each week of the show is themed around a certain baking form, such as breads, biscuits or cakes. Contestants must showcase their skills through three challenges: the signature bake, the technical challenge and the showstopper. The home bakers are allowed to prepare their recipes for the signature bake and showstopper beforehand. These challenges promise to produce scrumptious victuals and artful masterpieces of edible decadence.

The weekly “technical challenge” tests bakers on their ability to perfectly execute timeless classics from a basic recipe, trying their knowledge of baking fundamentals. I love learning new tidbits of culinary science or obscure techniques, and the beautiful bread sculptures and intricate cake concoctions never fail to dazzle and impress. After watching an episode of GBBO, I am always itching to bake something, and the following scone recipe is a simple way to satisfy my craving for an oven-focused kitchen adventure!


GBBO-Inspired Scones
A timeless treat of edible decadence

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup add-ins (chopped dried fruit, grated cheese, chocolate chips, nuts, etc.)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Cut butter into small cubes.
  3. Mix together all dry ingredients.
  4. Using fingers, knives or a pastry blender, mix butter into the dry mixture until butter is in pea-sized lumps.
  5. Mix in egg and buttermilk until combined.
  6. Mix in add-ins.
  7. On floured surface, pat dough into a circle.
  8. Cut dough into triangles.
  9. Place scones on baking sheet lined with parchment.
  10. Bake for 10-12 minutes until starting to turn golden brown.

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