Have everything cold – chill the flour, butter and bowl beforehand, if you can, and use ice-cold milk.
Bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar used with plain flour give more lift than self-raising flour.
Scone dough should be handled lightly and as little as possible.
Ideally, scones should double in size when cooked, but they will not rise well and will be poorly shaped if the dough is rolled out thinly and unevenly. Pat out or roll the dough 2.5 cm thick, using even pressure on the rolling pin. Dip the cutter in flour before cutting the scones out (to stop them sticking), and push straight down. If you twist the cutter, they will be ragged or slanted.
Put the cut scones close together on a baking tray; this will force them to rise more.
Bake immediately in a hot oven as the raising agent starts to work the minute any liquid is added.
For soft scones, wrap them in a clean cloth as soon as they come out of the oven. For crusty scones, do not wrap; cool on a wire rack.