With a Northern-Irish ex-pat father, occasionally through my childhood we'd be treated to various Irish specialities. Potato cakes are what I remember best, thin pancake-like triangles of potato, butter, flour and maybe some herbs fried to give a brown, caramelised crunch. Just thinking about them makes my mouth water and yet for some reason they aren't popular in my part of the world.
When he moved to England in the '60s, my Dad was shocked at the poor range of flour available in supermarkets, just white or wholemeal in the main and the wholemeal was very much finer than he was used to in Northern Ireland. He says that, unlike what he found in England, there would be a wide variety of wholemeal (or wheaten meal) flours available, from fine to coarse - and even with today's ever homogenising supermarket offerings, several grades of coarseness are available.
Some time ago, he contacted various millers in Ireland to try to produce some "proper" coarse flour used in scones, farls, wheaten bread amongst others but couldn't convince any to send some across-the-water and so had given up the search. This is where the marvellous Jon Cook at Foster's Mill comes in. He has made a mid-coarseness stoneground wheaten meal for us to stock - and it has had the thumbs-up in the ex-pat authenticity test!
Here then, is a very straightforward recipe for Wheaten Scones using Jon's flour and a family recipe. Traditionally these would be cooked on a griddle but work well in the oven (use the top of your range cooker if you have one). The scones have much more bite than the more common white scones and, with the turn half-way through baking, they have a delicate crust too. Great with butter and jam, in fact, I think, I need another one for inspiration while writing-up the recipe.
This recipe contains buttermilk, another ingredient readily available in Ireland and much less so in England. The buttermilk available in the supermarkets isn't quite the same but is near enough. The recipe makes 12 excellent scones, good hot, cold or toasted.
Preheat your oven to 230°C (215°C for fan ovens).
Soda breads should not be kneaded and rely on the baking powder to make them rise. So, mix the wheaten meal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together to make sure that all are well distributed. Rub the butter into the mix with your hands until the butter is lost in the flour and then add the buttermilk, mixing (rather than kneading) until all comes together as a fairly stiff dough.
Flour your worktop and roll the dough to about 1" thickness and then using a 60mm pastry cutter cut out the 12 scones, placing them on a greased baking sheet.
Put the scones into the pre-heated oven for 7 minutes before turning the scones over and then baking for another 7 minutes until golden brown. Tip onto a cooling rack, cool a bit before eating.