When is a scone ‘destiny’ and a big, fat stone slab a ladder to heaven? Give up?...When you’re in
where the ‘Lia Fail’ or ‘Scone of Destiny’ resides. Scotland
Scone means stone, in this case a 336 lb. sandstone slab said to be the pillow upon which the biblical Jacob laid his head and dreamed of a ladder to heaven, and which in 503 a.d., St. Columba carried (saints being stronger then) to Iona, where for 300 years it served as the Scottish king’s coronation throne.
That is, until mischievous merchant Vikings, as Scandinavian historians describe them, but who the rest of Europe characterizes as horrific hell-raisers, ran amok all over Scotland in their fun-loving, boyish way necessitating the stone’s removal to Scone Castle in Perthshire. In 1296, Edward 1st ‘Hammer of the Scots’, brutally suppressed the Scottish uprising, made off with the Lia Fail, annexed the country to England and left the Scots a little nostalgic for the Vikings.
In its new home in Westminster Abbey, the stone sat beneath the coronation throne of the English monarchs. The symbolism of this impolite posture was not lost on the Scottish, who by 1950 were really fed-up with their sacred stone being a cushion for the royal English fanny, and so they stole it, only to have it returned for the coronation of Elizabeth II.
In 1996, Prince Andrew returned the Scone of Destiny to Scotland and its final resting place at Edinburgh Castle, at least until the Vikings decide to get frisky again.
So, that is how a big stone can inspire heavenly visions, nationalist fervor, royal destiny and a popular biscuit. Unfortunately, too many cooks take the term ‘scone’ literally and create a pastry with all the tenderness and confectionary charm that the Scone of Destiny might possess. But, if you undertake this recipe with a lightness of hand and heart, the results are destined to be flaky, tender and delicious.
Lemon Blueberry Scones
(makes 10 large scones)
Note: for the best results mix by hand; use only butter & buttermilk
- 1 ½ tsp. each - baking soda & baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 5 tbs. sugar
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup pastry flour
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- zest of 1 lemon
- ¾ cup cold unsalted butter cut into 1” pieces
- 1 egg
- 1 ½ cups buttermilk (extra for glazing)
- 1 ½ cups blueberries (drain well if using frozen)
- preheat oven to 375
- line a large baking sheet with parchment
- whisk 4 tbs. of the sugar & all other dry ingredients together, except baking soda
- cut-in the butter until texture resembles large crumbs
- mix-in lemon zest
- add vanilla, egg & baking soda to buttermilk, stir into flour mixture
- use hands lightly to combine, add blueberries, continue using hands until a loose ball forms (add a little more buttermilk if needed)
- turn-out onto a floured board, shape a long rectangle 1 ½” thick
- cut dough in a series of connecting angles to form triangular scones 3” across, or cut in rectangles
- bake on middle rack for 20 mins.,
- glaze with buttermilk and sugar
- cook 10 mins. more, until a toothpick comes out clean, & tops and bottoms are golden