You might be surprised to learn that Nadiya Hussain, the winner of season 6 of the hit TV series The Great British Bake Off, didn’t learn to bake until enrolling in a cooking class at secondary school.
“I didn’t grow up in a family where baking was a natural thing,” says Hussain, who also hosts Netflix series Nadiya’s Time to Eat and Nadiya Bakes. “For us it was big pots of food cooking on the stovetop. Any kind of cakes or biscuits that we ate came from shops.”
Once she began baking one of the first recipes she learned how to make was for the traditional scone. But while she may be a star baker now, her first try making this quintessential British treat didn’t go so well.
“I very much over handled [the dough], so it was tough and chewy,” says Hussain. “My teacher told me, ‘Overworked.’ It’s one of the fundamentals you learn that I go back to time and time again. I love classic scones.”
Taking inspiration from another classic, her recipe for scone pizza is a fantastically nontraditional version of the teatime staple. It’s featured in her latest book Nadiya Bakes, which was released this past summer.
While it doesn’t require mozzarella or tomato sauce, her recipe does make a single, large pizza-like scone that is flavored with lavender and lemon, and is topped with layers of clotted cream and blueberry jam. You then use your fingers to pull a slice of scone away and devour it with your hands. The recipe may ruffle a few feathers, she says, but so be it.
“There are purists who will read the title of the recipe and say that’s not going to happen,” she says. “But I am not a purist. I am very much about changing and adapting recipes. The rule book out of the window—that’s how I cook. This recipe is an example of how my brain works.”
Her scone pizza takes less than an hour to make in total, and it’s the sheer swiftness of the recipe that she finds most comforting.
“It’s one of those desserts that you can make and not feel like it’s taken too much effort or time, but it still feels really special,” says Hussain. “It’s not in any way posh or fancy. It’s just delicious.”
Read on for Hussain’s recipe and tips for making this delicious and truly original scone.
Hussain keeps the dough for her scone simple, though she does add a couple of flavor boosters. After incorporating the butter with the flour, salt and baking powder (her pro tip: shake the bowl back and forth occasionally to bring larger butter crumbles to the top of the mixture), she adds the standard sugar and milk, as well as a touch of dried lavender and lemon zest.
“Lavender is one of those things like—is it an air freshener? Is it edible? It’s a bit hit and miss,” she says. “Use too much and it feels like you’ve got potpourri in your mouth, [but don’t use] enough and you can’t tell it’s there. So, you’ve got to hit a good balance.”
Scones should always be light and crumbly, and too much mixing or kneading can quickly transform them into a hard, chewy mess. “Often when you make scones, you cut them out, and then you have excess that you’ve got leftover and you bring that [back] together,” she says. “So that gets handled a little bit more than the first batch. And so, as you go down the tree, your scones become tougher and tougher because that dough has been handled a little bit more.”
Hussain’s pizza-inspired recipe, however, addresses this with ease. Simply shape it into one large round pie and it will retain the ideal buttery crumble consistency.
Once you have your dough gently rolled out and shaped in that perfect (or not so perfect!) circle, you’ll need to cut it into slices, like you would a pizza. This way you won’t have to worry about losing too much crumble if you cut it after baking.
“One of my biggest tips, especially when baking, is to get yourself an oven thermometer,” says Hussain. “If you’re a nervous baker or you’ve had disasters in the past, you can kind of tweak it if your oven is a little bit off kilter, and it doesn’t quite get the temperature right.”
When it comes to dressing a scone, “there is this age-old debate [between] Devon and Cornwall,” she explains. “In Cornwall, it’s jam first and then cream. But I am with Devon, okay? If you were putting butter on bread, you would go for the fat first and then the fruit second, right? You’d never go jam first. So, for me, that seems like it makes sense.”
Either way, there’s nothing traditional about this scone’s assembly. Across the top of the entire scone pizza, she spreads a layer of clotted cream (which she mixes with vanilla bean paste) first and then adds a layer of blueberry jam. The dessert is finished with a sprinkling of lemon zest.
“The outer skin of a blueberry is quite fragrant, and I think when you add lavender to the blueberry, it really accentuates that kind of fragrant flavor of blueberry skin,” says Hussain. “At the end, give it a quick brush with the lemon zest on top, which gives it a gorgeous freshness.”
What’s great about this recipe is that it works with a lot of different flavors and ingredients. Hussain is particularly fond of strawberry jam on dried basil scones, and her kids love her banana and caramel topping on hazelnut and chocolate scones. Whatever combination you choose to feature, she stresses that this pizza scone is best eaten right away (and certainly doesn’t need to be reserved for afternoon tea).
“It’s one of those recipes that you can literally plunk in the middle of the table and say, ‘Here you go,’ and everybody gets their hands in,” she says. “That’s what I love about it.”
Makes 12 wedges
For the Scone
- 2.75 cups All-purpose flour, sifted, plus a little extra for dusting
- .75 tsp Salt
- 5 tsp Baking powder
- 6 Tbsp Unsalted butter, softened
- .25 cup Granulated sugar
- 1 tsp Dried lavender, crushed
- Zest of 1 lemon
- .75 cup Whole milk, room temperature
For the Topping
- 2 x 8-oz Jars of clotted cream or crème fraîche
- 1 tsp Vanilla bean paste
- 5 Tbsp Blueberry jam
- 1 cup Fresh blueberries
- Zest of half a lemon
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Add the flour to a large bowl, along with the salt and baking powder, and mix well. Add the butter and rub it into the flour using your fingertips until there are no large traces left. Add the sugar, dried lavender and lemon zest, and mix.
- Make a well in the center and add the milk. Using a rubber spatula, mix until it starts to form a dough. Gently bring the dough together with your hands. Tip it out onto a lightly floured surface and form the dough into a mound, but resist the temptation to knead or the scone will become chewy rather than soft and crumbly.
- Put the mound into the center of the prepared sheet—this just saves a messy transfer once the dough is rolled out. Using a rolling pin or the back of your hand, press the dough out to an 8-inch circle about three-quarters of an inch thick. If you want, trim the edges, though I prefer not to as I like the edges rough.
- Now using a sharp knife, cut the circle like a pizza into 12 slices, cutting all the way down and all the way through. Pop into the oven and bake for 15 minutes. The scone should be golden around the edges, a little less so toward the center, and firm to the touch.
- Let cool completely on the sheet. As soon as it is cool enough, pop it onto your chosen serving dish.
- Mix the clotted cream and vanilla bean paste together. Add the jam and ripple it through.
- Spread the mixture all over the scone, leaving a half-inch gap around the edge. Top with blueberries, scatter with lemon zest, and you are ready to serve!
Reprinted from NADIYA BAKES by Nadiya Hussain. Copyright © 2020 by Nadiya Hussain. Photographs copyright © 2020 by Chris Terry. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.