To Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day: Bake a Scone!

March 15, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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Ciji in Polruan, across from Fowey, Cornwall - Version 2These past months working on the now-published That Summer in Cornwall and starting the research for That Autumn in Edinburgh–which will be published next fall—has stirred up so many memories of my own family history.

This week, as St. Patrick’s Day approaches, I thought a lot about my own Scots-Irish-Cornish heritage and it got me longing to make a fresh batch of “Elfie McCullough” scones. (That’s her in the b&W photo)5 generations of McCullough Women copySO!  Here, below, is my Great Grandmother, Elfie McCullough’s recipe handed down by my Great Aunt Marge and adapted by me over the years. (This is Aunt Marge in white with my McCullough clan at one of my book-signings in New Orleans fifteen years ago). sc00043e55

My father’s family–the Wares– originated on the border of Devon and Cornwall in England, and migrated in 1642 to Massachusetts and eventually to the mid-West, where my father was born.

Cornish countryside facing Channel





My mother’s family–the McCulloughs–were Scottish who left Ayrshire to work as estate factors in Northern Ireland and eventually landed in the Tidewater region of America in the late 18th century.  They made their way to Missouri where they raised Hereford cattle and were fabulous cooks! I was 15 when Elfie died and a grown woman when Aunt Marge passed away, in her nineties.

Marge wouldn’t share this recipe unless I promised to use “real butter.”IMG_0739




So, here’s to St. Patrick’s Day with a Scottish-Irish-Cornish “hybridized”  scone recipe–from the United Kingdom via America!  (If you can’t cut-and-paste this off your screen, email me via the Contact page and I’ll send you the file).




Preheat oven 425 degrees. This recipe makes about 6 to 8 scones, depending on how small you make them.

                1 cup                    Self Rising Flour (be sure it is fresh)

                ½ cube                 Butter (either salted or unsalted is fine)

               ¼ cup                   Sugar

                ¼ cup                  Heavy cream (or milk)

                1 egg yolk beaten with a little milk


Sift or mix the flour and sugar together in a medium-size bowl. 


Hand cut butter into flour and sugar with a pastry cutter, until crumbly–but do not over work.


Add enough milk (I use cream if feeling naughty) to make the dough ball come together (this will vary according to your level of humidity, but don’t use too much or the scones won’t rise much; I use a wooden spoon to mix together, then my clean hands to make the dough come together).


Turn dough out on floured surface and pat into a round or square shape with your hands, ½ inch to 1 inch thick, depending on hall high you want your scones. (I like 1 inch tall dough).


I use a round cylinder, 2 inches in diameter, to cut the scones, or you can just use a knife and make triangles.  Your choice.  Put on jelly roll pan or cookie sheet, non greased.  Brush the tops of the scones with the egg yolk/milk mixture.


Bake for 12 minutes until lightly brown.   When cool, split the scones if you made the high ones.  Serve with a dab of whipped cream, clotted cream, or crème fraiche and a dollop of your favorite jam.


Enjoy! And by the way, Great Grandmother Elfie McCullough and Aunt Marge send their regards….


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