24 November 2023

No joke: Canberra's best scone maker comes from ... Scone

| James Coleman

ACT Deputy Chief Minister Yvette Berry and Canberra’s best scone-maker Peter Chapman. Photo: Canberra Scone-Off.

Judges chowed down on many cream and jam-coated scones last weekend for the inaugural ‘Canberra Scone-off’ at the Kippax Uniting Church, clearly suffering in their effort to find the best.

Well, the winner was exactly who you secretly hoped it would be.

Peter traces his baking skills back to his grandmother, who lived in Toowoomba, Queensland.

“She was president of the Country Women’s Association back in those days, and scones were a big thing for fundraisers, and she always cooked a great one.”

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This know-how was clearly handed down through to Peter’s mother, who would often enter scone-baking competitions and then onto Peter himself.

“My father can’t believe that I could cook scones just like his wife,” he says.

“And I’m the only person in my house allowed to make scones.”

His mum died nearly two years ago, so when he came across news of the Canberra Scone-off, he rose to the occasion “for my mum”.

“I can do that in remembrance of her, just for a fun thing.”


Kippax Uniting Church’s famous scone baker, Frances Noble. Photo: The Canberra Scone-Off.

But there’s more.

Peter Chapman is a public servant here in the ACT today. He moved here in 1997 and was in the Navy from 1979 to 2004. But his origins can be traced to a small town of 5000-odd people in the upper Hunter region of NSW, called (wait for it) ‘Scone’. (The only difference to the baked good is that the ‘o’ in the town says its name – although pronouncing the baked good is also a cause of contention.)

The Canberra Scone-Off, held on Saturday, 18 November, was the brainchild of three local foodies – Elias Hallaj, Serina Bird (author of The Joyful Frugalista) and Andrea Butler, founder of bakesale, an online baker directory and marketplace – and inspired by the church’s strong scone-baking tradition.

The judges for the Canberra Scone-off 2023. Photo: James Coleman.

Canberrans were invited to enter their efforts into one of seven categories: plain scones, savoury scones, date scones, pumpkin scones, gluten-free scones, junior scones (for school-aged bakers), and “other scones” to allow for other varieties.

Guest judges included ACT Deputy Chief Minister Yvette Berry, Canberra Liberals leader Elizabeth Lee, Canberra Liberals MLA Peter Cain, former ACT Arts Minister Gordon Ramsay and ABC Canberra presenter Lish Fejer.

And up for grabs were vouchers from several local businesses, including bakesale, Pinot & Picasso Belconnen, Canberra Labor Club Group, BZBurgers and Coffee House, Sculptures Hair Salon, Mama Ria’s Takeaway Kippax, Ichi Cafe Kippax Fair, Hungry Brown Cow in Holt and Pizza Hut Kippax.

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Peter says his first batch on the morning “didn’t work out so well”, so he hastily put together a second, picked out the best four and handed them over to the judges, not expecting the result.

“I didn’t think they were a bad scone, but I didn’t think they were going to be that good,” he says.

The judges noted how not only were his efforts the perfect size and cooked well, but they also sounded hollow to tap, which means they’re fluffy inside and not doughy.

“I can’t believe it – I was quite surprised – and I just thought of mum. If she can do it, I can do it, too. So I feel pretty proud. Maybe I’ll get to go back next year and defend it.”


Lunchtime was the wrong time to write this caption. Photo: The Canberra Scone-Off.

The secret sauce, he reckons, is a mixture of lemonade and pure cream.

“I used to use the old butter and milk way, but the old Country Women’s Association said you could use lemonade and pure cream to make a nice, even dough,” he says.

“Work it gently. And when you flatten it out, use a cutter or glass to punch it out. ‘Don’t twist it’ is what Mum always said. Twisting it makes the scones roll over, but if you cut it nicely, it will rise nicely.”

And before you ask, here’s the recipe:

The Chapman family’s Lemonade Scones

4 cups self-raising flour
300 mls pure cream
300 mls lemonade
Flour, for dusting
Milk, for glazing
Jam and whipped cream

Preheat the oven to 180 C (fan-forced) or 200 C (conventional).
Gently combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon.
When you have a ball of dough, turn out onto a floured surface.
Lightly knead the dough for 30 seconds, then flatten the dough to approximately 3 cm thick.
Using a scone cutter or a upside-down glass, cut out the scones (do NOT twist the cutter).
Re-knead the dough and continue until all dough is used (you should be able to make 12 to 14 scones).
Place scones on a baking tray, and glaze with milk.
Bake for 12 minutes.
Let cool, and serve with jam and cream.


Original Article published by James Coleman on Riotact.

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