BY HOPE NGO
When we talk about scones, we’re likely to think about the British equivalent of biscuits, enjoyed as part of a classic afternoon tea with clotted cream and jam. But drop scones are another creature altogether. Also known as Scotch pancakes, drop scones are prepared by putting scoops of sweetened batter on a hot pan. What you get in the end is a breakfast treat that looks more like a pancake than the baked good we’ve come to recognize as a kissing cousin to the biscuit.
Scotch pancakes are a throwback to a time when people abstained from cooking with precious ingredients including eggs, oil, and dairy products for the Lenten season, per the BBC. So nothing would go to waste, observers would cook up these “luxuries” to be enjoyed in their last days of opulence before the season of fasting.
Today, drop scones are probably most associated with Queen Elizabeth II, who died on Thursday, September 8. Per “Letters of Note Volume 1: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence,” the queen famously served drop scones in August 1959 while she was entertaining then-U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower and first lady Mamie Eisenhower at Scotland’s Balmoral Castle.
The collection of letters sheds little light on what was discussed when the two met at the Scottish castle. What we do know is that President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth II broke bread together in the form of drop scones. Eisenhower enjoyed them so much, in fact, that the queen sent him her recipe a few months later, along with a note that now appears in the National Archives.
In the letter, Queen Elizabeth says she saw a photo of Eisenhower standing over a grill, which reminded her to mail him her recipe. She also offers a few tips on making a successful batch of drop scones, including “using golden syrup or treacle instead of only sugar,” giving the batter “a great deal of beating,” and not letting the mixture stand for too long before serving. The ingredients include 4 cups of flour, 4 tablespoons of caster sugar, 2 cups of milk, 2 eggs, 3 teaspoons of cream of tartar, 2 tablespoons of melted butter, and 2 teaspoons of baking soda. The instructions are pretty straightforward, too: “Beat eggs, sugar, and about half the milk together, add flour, and mix well together, adding remainder of milk as required, also bi-carbonate [baking soda] and cream of tartar, fold in the melted butter.”
While the queen’s recipe didn’t include a baking temperature or time, we’d imagine the scones should be cooked at 400 F for 12-15 minutes, as in Mashed’s British scones recipe.