Slow English

Podcasts about Australia for intermediate learners of English

Podcast 125 – Lockdown Activities – Baking Scones


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Learn English while learning about daily life in Australia, with Rob McCormack

Podcast Number 125 – Lockdown Activities – Baking Scones 

(This podcast is 11 minutes and 28 seconds long)


Melbourne spent 112 days in lockdown for our second wave of coronavirus in 2020.  As I outlined in Podcast 123 (, it was a very strict lockdown.  Apart from some daily outside exercise time and for grocery shopping or medical purposes, it meant staying at home.  One of the new things I did was some baking.  Unexpectedly, I have found it to be rather enjoyable.  In this podcast, I would like to tell you about my baking activities and share with you the recipe for cream scones.

A sample of Rob’s cream scones.

Firstly, I should explain that I am not a very good cook. However, my wife continued to work long after I retired so I took on the role of being the cook for us both.  As my cooking skills are not well developed, I must say she was very patient and considerate towards my efforts at cooking.  Notwithstanding my under-developed cooking skills, during the lockdown I decided one day to try cooking some scones.  In America, these would probably be called biscuits, but in Australia, New Zealand and Britain, we call them scones.  Scones are sort of halfway between a small cake and a small bread roll.  In their simplest form, scones are made from self-raising flour, some salt or sugar for flavour, some butter or cream and finally milk or water (or both).  Different types of scones can be made by adding further ingredients such as dates, sultanas, pumpkin or bananas.  Actually, the sky is the limit for any creative cook, as you can add almost anything into scones.  Unfortunately, I am not one of those creative cooks, so I followed strictly a recipe I found in a cook book which I have had for around 40 years.

This recipe is called cream scones.  The ingredients are:

  • 2 cups (340 grams) of self-raising flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons (45 grams) of sugar
  • half a cup (120ml) of cream and
  • half a cup (120ml) of milk.

Firstly, I prepare by getting all the ingredients out on the kitchen bench, along with all the bowls and utensils I will need.  I like to do this so that I don’t have to go and look for something once I start preparing the scones.  I find I can get distracted by having to look for something like a pot and as a result I can get the recipe wrong, for example leaving out something.  I told you I was not a great cook.

Okay, so as well as the ingredients, I need:

  • a mixing bowl to mix the ingredients in
  • a fork to mix the ingredients in the bowl
  • my measuring cups – the 1 cup measure and the 1/2 a cup measure
  • a measure for 1 tablespoon (for the sugar)
  • a sieve for sifting the flour
  • a spoon for putting the flour into the 1 cup measure
  • a cutting board for kneading the flour mixture
  • a little extra flour for putting on the cutting board
  • a baking tray for putting the scone mixture on
  • baking paper, for covering the tray before I put the scone mixture on the tray (which stops the scones from sticking to the tray)
  • a small drinking glass, used upside down to cut out each scone
  • a little extra milk and
  • a pastry brush, for spreading a small amount of milk onto each of the scones.

Okay, having assembled all my ingredients and utensils to make the scones, here are the steps to make the scones.  Of course, before you start, make sure you wash your hands with soap and water.

  1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Centigrade (fan-forced).
  2. Break the egg into the mixing bowl.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of sugar.
  4. With the fork, mix the egg and sugar together and beat them until creamy.
  5. Add half a cup of cream to the bowl.
  6. Add half a cup of milk to the bowl.
  7. Beat the mixture with the fork until fully mixed.
  8. Now add the flour, making sure you sift the flour through the sieve as you add it to the mixture.
  9. Mix with the fork until it is a smooth dough.
  10. Cover the cutting board lightly with a little extra flour.
  11. Tip out the mixture onto the floured board and knead lightly with your bare hands.  This involves folding the mixture over several times.
  12. Pat the dough mixture into a circle which is about 3cm thick.
  13. Use the glass (upside down) to press down and cut out each scone from the dough, placing each on the baking paper.
  14. Use the pastry brush to brush a little milk across the top of each scone. This helps them to brown slightly while cooking.
  15. Bake in the oven for 13 minutes.

Remove from the oven and enjoy a scone or two while they are warm.  I find they also store well in the fridge.  My wife and I enjoyed them every day during lockdown as a morning tea or afternoon tea snack with a nice cup of hot tea. I like them with a small spread of butter, whereas my wife prefers them just as is.

It’s quite common to find scones at your local café or bakery in Australia.  At eat-in cafés you will often be able to order a Devonshire Tea, which is fresh scones spread with jam and cream, and a pot of tea or coffee. Devonshire Tea originates from England where it is still a traditional café delight.  Of course many English migrants have come to Australia over the years so it is no wonder that scones have also become common and popular here in Australia.

I can remember my mother making scones at home when I was a child. Now, whenever I cook and enjoy a scone with a cup of tea, I also think of our time in lockdown during the pandemic.

Rob and some of his scones. He is wearing his new apron, a Christmas present from his wife.

If you have a question or a comment to make, please leave it in the comments box at the bottom of this page. Or, you can send me an email at  I would love to hear from you.  Tell me where you live, a little bit about yourself and what you think of my Slow English podcast.  I will write back to you, in English of course.  If you would like to take a short quiz to see if you have understood this podcast, you will also find it on my website. Goodbye until next time.


Podcast 125 Quiz - Did you understand the podcast?

You can take the quiz as many times as you like.



activities = things to do

assembled = put together

baking = (here) the process of cooking food using an oven

bare hands = hands with no gloves

beat = (here) to mix ingredients together quickly, usually with a fork or spoon

bench = like a table, but longer

biscuits = in Australia, small round sweets made from flour and other ingredients

board = a flat surface which you can cut vegetables and other food on

bowls = a round hollow object you can put things in, usually food

brown slightly = to make it go a little brown in colour while it is cooking

considerate = when you are nice to other people

covering = when you put something over something else

creamy = like cream

creative = when you think of new things that are different

decided = when something is chosen

distracted = when you think of something else and forget what you were doing

dough = the mixture of flour and other ingredients, before you cook it

efforts = (here) your attempts to do something

extra = additional, a bit more

fan-forced = a certain type of oven which has a fan to make the heat hotter

floured board = a cutting board which has had some flour spread over it

folding = (here) to turn the dough over on itself with your hands, in order to make it mix

form = (here) type, sort

grocery = all types of food that you buy at the supermarket

ingredients = the things that you use to make a meal or cooked food

kneading = to gently push, fold and push a soft dough

measure = a utensil for measuring how much of something there is

measuring = checking how much you have of something

medical purposes = for the reason of your health

mesh = a material made from thin metal wire which you can see through

migrants = people who go to live in another country, never to return

mixture = when several things are put together and mixed

notwithstanding = despite, even though

originates = started from, came from

pastry brush = a small brush used to spread liquid or paste over food to be cooked

patient = (here) to wait for something without getting angry or unpleasant

pot =  a round metal or clay object to hold food and liquid when cooking

prefers =  likes

retired = your career has finished and now you don’t work anymore

role = a job or a task

roll = (here) a small bread

self-raising = plain flour which has a small amount of baking soda added

share = to give another person something of yours, to let them use it

sieve = a utensil made of wire mesh so that you can remove large pieces from, say, flour

sifting = to pour a powder (such as flour) through a sieve to remove any large pieces

skills = the things you are good at doing

snack = when you eat something between meals

spread = (here) to put something over something else, to cover

store = (here) to keep something for later.  For example in a fridge

strict = when something must be followed or done a certain way

tablespoons = (here) a measure equal to the amount of something held in a large spoon

the sky is the limit = an expression which means there are many, many options

tip out =  to move something from one container or pot to another

tray = a flat piece of metal used to carry food

unexpectedly = when something is not expected

utensils = small tools used to help you prepare food.  For example, knives, measures, etc

whereas = by contrast, when something is different


  1. Hello Rob.

    I tried to cook with your recepi. Now are holidays in Russia and cold winter. So I decided- why not. I have found I did not success with it. Because my scones didn’t turn out as lush as yours, It turn out as some sort of sweet bread. 🙂 But anyway your podcast is very useful with many kitchen and cooking vocabulary. Thanks so much.


    • Hi Tatiana,
      Many thanks for your comment. Well done that you tried out the scones recipe. I am sorry if it didn’t work out well for you. There are so many variables which go into getting a successful outcome in cooking. Anyway, it was a good exercise to try it out. I am sure you read the recipe very closely as you were doing it. That would have helped your English skills a lot, and as you say, you picked up some cooking and kitchen vocabulary.
      Have a great day.

  2. Hi, Rob,
    I teach English as an Additional Language to adults, and I am very grateful to you for these podcasts. I send students to this site because it gives them an opportunity to listen and read at the same time. I send the links to them on Sunday evening for a Monday morning online class, and most of them will have accessed it by class time, although they are not expected to do so!
    Up to now I have discouraged them from scrolling down to the Vocabulary (it is discussed in class), but I will soon. I hope it’s okay to show them how to ‘Leave a Reply’ too.
    A big THANK YOU from
    Dhammika Fernando

    • Hi Dhammika,
      Many thanks for your comment. Your kind words about my podcast are much appreciated. It’s great to hear that your students are finding the podcast useful. I would be very interested to receive their comments via the website, or alternatively via my email address at Either way, I will be happy to reply to each and every response.
      Best regards,

  3. Many thanks Rob for the amazing work you’ve been doing. I move to Australia from Italy 40 years ago. I’ve been using the transcription of your podcasts with young relatives in Italy who are studying English. Tonight we read this one and I think I’m going to make some scones tomorrow! I remember the first ones I made many years ago were not so good; they turned out as hard as rocks. Hopefully, with your recipe I should do better!
    Again, thanks for generously giving your time to support English language learners and those like me who enjoy reading your stories. Francesca

    • Hi Francesca,
      My apologies for being slow to see your comment. Thanks very much for your very kind words. That is a great way to use my podcasts. It must be very satisfying to be able to assist your relatives in Italy who are studying English. I hope my scones recipe worked out okay for you. Let me know what you thought of them. I hope you liked them!
      Good luck with your teaching.
      All the best,

  4. Hi Rob.

    I´m laughing here after read this: ” I told you I was not a great cook.”
    I´m also not a great cook. But we must try.

    Please, if possible, do more interviews with australians. I liked the interviews in the past podcasts. I believe that more people must have liked it too. It´s interesting to hear other people talking. It´s a way to further improve our listening skills.

    Have a nice weekend. Stay safe, stay healthy.

    • Hi John,
      Many thanks for your comment. Yes, we ‘bad cooks’ must try to improve our cooking skills lol!
      Also, thanks for the suggestion about interviewing more Australians. I will do that. It’s a good idea.
      You have a good weekend too. My wife and I just came back from an early morning walk, so already our weekend is going well.


  5. Hi Rob:

    Thank you very much
    I made 4 scones and it was delicious. I like your podcast. It’s just difficult for me.
    I am Chinese. I practised listening from your podcast.
    thank you. I like your podcase and Learn about life in Australia?


    • Hi Helen,
      Many thanks for your comment and for your kind words about my podcast. I am really pleased that you cooked some scones. Following a recipe is a great way to practise your English. Also, cooking is fun.
      Have fun learning English. You are doing really well.
      Have a great day.

  6. Hi Rob,

    I’m a Brazilian living in Melbourne.
    I have made a comment once on your podcast, but this time I would just like to say thank you very much for this present that you give to us. I really appreciate your podcast, it is amazing!

    • Hi Rosie,
      Many thanks for your comment. Your kind words about my podcast are greatly appreciated. I hope you are enjoying living in Melbourne. How fortunate we are at the moment here in Melbourne, with the pandemic having such a terrible effect in most other places on the planet. The news overnight that Perth has had a case of local transmission after 10 months tells us how dangerous this virus is. I am looking forward to the vaccination rollout, so that we can start to put this nightmare behind us.
      Have fun learning English
      Stay safe.

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