Ruth's pikelet and scone secrets

16:00, Mar 07 2014
A CLASSIC: Pikelets have been enjoyed by generations of Kiwis, and will be by many more to come.

Without a doubt, Hira Royal makes the best pikelets I have ever eaten.

Aunty Hira has lived in Otaki on the Kapiti Coast for more than 80 years and her Sunday school teacher passed on the recipe.

The point of difference in the recipe is that the raising agent is not baking powder, but baking soda with cream of tartar. In those days, perhaps, baking powder was the expensive option.

I can hear the chemists saying: "But baking powder is baking soda and cream of tartar combined."

I reply: "Yes – and I know am not a chemist – but baking powder does have a few more ingredients in it than just the two."

The only other explanation have for the lightness of these pikelets is that Aunty Hira, the first woman to be ordained as priest at the historical Rangiatea Church in Otaki, has the Midas touch. She puts love into everything she touches, including her baking.


Makes 18

I have halved this recipe from Aunty Hira. By all means double it, or even triple it, as there will never be any left. Best eaten as soon as possible.


1 egg

50g ( 1/4 cup) sugar

200ml ( 3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp) milk

140g (1 cup) flour

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

butter for greasing frypan

lashings of butter, jam and whipped cream to serve



Preheat a heavy-based frypan to medium heat. (This could be an electric frypan.)

Place egg and sugar in a bowl, and whisk to combine. Add milk and whisk until smooth.

Place a sieve over bowl. Sieve flour, baking soda and cream of tartar into the egg mixture, and stir until batter smooth.

Grease preheated pan with a little butter.

Pour spoonfuls of batter into pan and cook for 1-2 minutes on first side. When the top surface is covered in bubbles and the pikelets begin to pop, turn them over and cook a further 1-2 minutes or until light golden in colour and bouncy to the touch. Repeat until all batter is used up.

Remove from pan to a plate covered in a tea towel, and cool wrapped in the tea towel.

Serve warm or cold with butter, jam and cream.


Makes 24 x 5cm round scones, or 10 x 7cm round scones

Take note of the mixing method in this recipe.


560g (4 cups) flour

8 level tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

180g (1 1/2 cups) coarsely grated tasty cheese

110g ( 2/3) onion, finely chopped

2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley leaves

500ml (2 cups) milk, plus extra for brushing

35g ( 1/2 cup) finely grated parmesan

Cream cheese and a savoury jam to serve


Preheat oven to 200°C. Lightly grease a low-sided baking tray with baking spray or butter.

Sift flour, baking powder, salt and cayenne pepper, and mix to combine. Add cheese, onion and parsley, and combine.

Make a well in the centre of the mixture and pour in milk.

Using a table knife, cut liquid into flour until it pulls together and is just combined. The mixture should be sticky touch.

Scrape dough from bowl onto a lightly floured bench. Pat top and sides gently to bring dough together. Using a lightly floured, lightweight rolling pin, gently roll to 3cm thickness.

With a 5cm round cookie cutter, cut 18 rounds. Place offcuts back into bowl and, using the table knife again, cut until dough pulls together. Repeat rolling process to obtain a further 6 or so scones.

Place on prepared tray approximately 1cm apart. Lightly brush tops with extra milk and top with parmesan.

Place into preheated oven and bake for 10-13 minutes or until golden brown on top. Bake larger scones for 12-15 minutes.

Serve with cream cheese and savoury jam.


Scones may be frozen unbaked – do so before you glaze with milk. When ready to cook, leave at room temperature for 20 minutes to only partially thaw. Place in pre-heated oven and increase baking time by 2-3 minutes small scones, and 4-5 minutes for larger scones.

Bread dough is kneaded until it is no longer sticky, but scone dough is only very gently mixed until just combined and still sticky.

The Dominion Post