This traditional Cape Breton Island fruit scone recipe tastes delicious warm with butter and honey or jam. A perfect afternoon ‘down east’ tea time treat.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 36 hours
A childhood in Canada
I am the daughter of an army brat. Although I was born on a military base on the west coast of Canada, my family moved back to Cape Breton Island, on the east coast of Canada, when I was three. My family history has strong ties to Cape Breton with them being some of the first Scottish settlers after the highland clearances. I lived in Cape Breton until I was 17 before going to university in New Brunswick and spending a year in the Rocky Mountains. When I was 22 I immigrated to the Shetland Islands, a remote north sea island archipelago midway between Iceland, Norway and the mainland of Scotland.
Although I’ve spent my whole adult life here in Shetland, the home of my heart will always be Cape Breton. It’s funny how where we are reared as children can have such a significant impact on us as adults.
Not too long ago I was recounting to my youngest two children some of my adventures had as a child in Cape Breton – building igloos and tunnels in the snow in the winter, ice skating until my toes froze (and subsequently returning home to sit beside the bathroom sink and defrost them in burning hot ice cold water before heading back out again). Summers were spent camping, canoeing and trying my best not to get lost in the woods. The sound of crickets, the sight of fireflies and bats, the peeper frogs and their mating calls on those fine summer days. The smell of earth when the snow melts in the Spring. Sawdust. Pine sap. Maple syrup.
“Whoa, Mum! I want to go to Canada!” our ten year old exclaimed.
A childhood in Shetland
Those distant memories are almost like something I’ve read in a book, not something I’ve lived through myself. My children are growing up with different (but just as good) experiences – the northern lights overhead on calm winter nights, fire festivals, summer days where it doesn’t get dark, a landscape that exceeds the Cabot Trail in its splendour, and no risk of some wild animal coming into the garden to eat them (coyotes – I’m talking to you!).
I’m sure when they fly the nest and end up somewhere else in the world, they will look back on the Shetland Islands with the same nostalgic fondness that I remember Cape Breton Island with.
You can take a girl out of the Maritimes, but you can never take the Maritimes out of the girl.
Rural Canadian cookery books
I still have family in Cape Breton, and each year my grandmother sends me a Christmas package with a community cookery book or two in it. These cookery books are such a delight to read – both for the memories the dishes bring back and the challenge of actually deciphering what the recipes are. Ingredients lists are often incomplete and the instructions are sometimes very vague. One of them read: “Mix together ingredients and cook on the stove.” That’s it. I love it! Challenge accepted!
One of these little notebooks included in my last Christmas parcel was A Cape Breton Traditional Recipe Book: Recipes Reflecting Cape Breton’s Traditional Ethnic Foods (Lebanese – Irish – Scottish – Italian – Ukrainian – Greek and Acadian) compiled by Glen Gray.
One of the first recipes that caught my eye in this book was this traditional Cape Breton scone recipe. Sweetened mostly with dried fruit this tea time treat has already become a firm favourite in our household. I’ve adapted the recipe to use UK ingredients and measures, but it is essentially the same recipe as found in that book.
Served warm with butter and honey or jam this makes a perfect after school treat for the kids. A little bit of Cape Breton here on the Shetland Islands.
Now… I am long overdue a telephone call back home! Sorry Grandma Ann, I’m terrible for keeping in touch! x
Recipe Difficulty Levels
Requires basic cooking skills and ingredients you most likely already have in your kitchen.
Requires more experience, preparation and/or cooking time. You may have to source special ingredients.
Recipes requiring more advanced skills and experience and maybe some special equipment.
Cape Breton Fruit Scones
- 300 grams plain flour
- 30 grams caster sugar plus extra to sprinkle
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp Shetland sea salt
- 0.25 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 200 grams sultanas or raisins or currants
- 150 grams soured cream or plain yogurt
- 60 ml sunflower oil
- 1 medium free-range egg lightly beaten
- full fat milk to brush the tops
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- Preheat oven to 220 C/ 200 C fan/ 425 F. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Sift together 300 grams plain flour, 30 grams caster sugar, 1 tbsp baking powder, 1 tsp Shetland sea salt and 0.25 tsp bicarbonate of soda.
- Add 200 grams sultanas and make sure they're coated well in the flour.
- Add 150 grams soured cream, 60 ml sunflower oil and 1 medium free-range egg, lightly beaten, and stir well with a wooden spoon to combine.
- Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until smooth.
- Divide the dough into two balls.
- Shape each half into a 6 inch flat circle with the tops slightly rounded.
- Place on the baking sheet, two inches apart. Brush with a little full fat milk and sprinkle with extra caster sugar.
- Using a sharp knife, cut each round into six wedges.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes in the centre of your oven until well risen and golden brown.
- Serve hot with butter and jam/honey.