May 2 2015

Galway’s #BestScone – send in your nominations please!

Posted by     6 Comments    Posted under: Kitchen

Ah …. nothing quite like a cup of tea and a scone.

Some like their scones warm with butter, a bit of jam or clotted cream. Some like them burnt a bit around the edges, caramelisation of the currants and raisins, and some like ’em hot outta the oven with nothing on ’em.

When it comes to finding ‘Galway’s Best Scone’ I thought about it for a few weeks before taking action. I chose a few places in the city centre, and a few in the outskirts.  All of them have damn fine reputations for their baked goods.

And why am I doing this I hear you ask? Well, because Goodalls Ireland is running their #BestScone competition again this year. Last year I was kinda disappointed that Galway did not win, even though Mitchell’s Café at Kylemore Abbey did make it to the final ten!

So this year, we have take it upon ourselves to find a few decent scones to nominate from right here in Galway!

I need your participation please, after you do your own research of course, I want you to hop over on to their Facebook page or send them a Tweet to nominate your favourite Galway Scone. If you look up the hashtag #BestScone on Twitter, you will see a long stream of scone nominations coming in from all over the country.

The Top Ten Best Scones in the country get in to the finals and the overall winner, aside from claiming the title of Irelands Best Scone, will also win €1,000 for their shop.

Shur – we could all use a few extra pennies in the purse guys n’ dolls.

So please, use my research as motivation to get your favourite scones on the map. Nominate today! (Because the deadline is May 8th, so hurry).

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How ‪#‎Bestscone‬ competition works.

Firstly Goodalls invites nominations from the public (via Facebook and Twitter) as to who they think have the Best Scones in Ireland.

At the end of the nominations period the 10 businesses with the highest amount of nominations go forward to a public vote which will be worth 50% of the overall result.

The final 50% will be earned at the scone tasting at the Merrion Hotel in Dublin, by a panel of expert judges.

The marks will be counted and verified on the 8th June 2015 and a winner chosen!

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Scones for the taking. Taste at Born.

I assembled a tasting panel of four experts, (no kids this time just industry experts) and we held a blind tasting. This is the best way to get totally unbiased feedback from a group of Galwegians, because trust me, their loyalty to certain businesss’ might just sway their decisions.

I know the photos below are not sexy, but there was a need to make this as simple as possible, giving the price and weight of the sone too – incase this matters to the reader, or the eater!

One thing I found interesting when reviewing the details with our tasting panel, was that in this instance, size actually didn’t matter.

The criteria we felt was important was simple:

–     Fruit content – this is very important

–     Mouthfeel (not gummy and not dry)

–     Over mixed/dense – don’t overwork the dough!

–     Balance of flavour (not too sweet, or salty, can you taste baking soda?)

–     Attractiveness (colour, shape, burnt or not!)

–     Is it fresh??

I weighed them all and shared the prices too. Keep in mind, both Kai Café and Taste at Born are more eat in cafés than take-away-bakery so their prices are that much higher and their scones are bigger. We also placed the scones in a low-lukewarm oven to give them all a chance to appear ‘fresh from the oven’.

To kick of our quest for #Galway’s #BestScone, we started at Galway’s Best Café!

I make no bones about it. #WeLOVEKai. I have had their scones on previous occasions and knew they would be contenders as all of their baked goods are pretty stellar.

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Here is what the tasting panel had to say:

Expert 1: A bit doughy, great taste but not enough fruit.

Expert 2: A bit disappointing and not enough fruit.

Expert 3: Nice, but I really need butter and jam with it.

Expert 4: Not enough fruit but decent.

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Next up, an institution of fine foods and wines in Galway for years, and slap bang in the middle of town, McCambridges of Galway.

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Here is what the tasting panel had to say:

Expert 1: Way too dry. Fell apart when cut open and no fruit.

Expert 2: Very dry – and no fruit at all . This was clearly yesterday’s scone – not fresh.

Expert 3: Way too dry; No fruit at all. Tight crumb, no air and way over-mixed.

Expert 4: Dry. No fruit, or there was a bit of a raisin – but it was burnt.

(Note to readers … by ‘no fruit’ they mean when cut open the scone is bare but there are one or two raisins scattered on the edges – so technically there ‘is’ fruit, but clearly not enough).

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Ok, the third scone we sampled came from the lovely Jenny – Taste at Born on the canal. If you have not been to this little café, then you need to put it on your list. Sitting on the banks of the canal, she has quite possibly the nicest outdoor patio in the city. AND, she  does not ‘charge extra’ for her gorgeous range of Gluten Free baked goods. She also makes the best cupcakes in Galway and is known to many as ‘the cupcake lady’.

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Here is what the tasting panel had to say:

Expert 1: Would be better with butter and actually was.

Expert 2: Lacking in flavour but decent texture.

Expert 3: Too doughy, a bit under baked and could do with a bit more sugar.

Expert 4: Not enough flavour or fruit but nice texture.

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Ok – moving on to number four, we cut open what I thought looked like a stellar scone. A bit square, and loaded with fruit, it looked like the kind of scone we used to have as kids. This one came from The Oven Door, at No. 3 Middle Street (close to entrance of Augustinian church) and their phone number is (091) 563 805.

Interestingly enough, these guys have zero web presence hence the sharing above of physical address and phone number.

They are aptly named, because you walk in the door of their tiny shop and are practically in their oven. Floured from head to toe, the pleasant bakers are there to tempt you with tarts, scones, bread and a slew of other beautiful traditionally baked Irish goodies.

 

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Here is what the tasting panel had to say:

Expert 1: The crust is really lovely and this scone is loaded with fruit.

Expert 2: Loved the crunch of the crust and texture. Might have found a little baking soda aftertaste but not offensive.

Expert 3: I’d buy this scone again. Just lovely.

Expert 4: Great flavour and fruit. From the looks of it might not buy it as I prefer a more ‘well done’ scone, but this was very nice.

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And now, we move on to Griffins Bakery, located down the town near the Kings Head. A favourite bakery of many a native and tourist, Griffins has been feeding the city of the tribes for decades.

 

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Here is what the tasting panel had to say:

Expert 1: This looks and feels very strange. The texture is very different to the other scones and the taste and mouthfeel is just weird.

Expert 2: Way too salty. It is not like a fruit scone, even though it has fruit.

Expert 3: This looks and tastes like an American savoury biscuit. Like the ones you have with sausage gravy for breakfast. I don’t like it.

Expert 4: This tastes very different. It tastes like it is supposed to be a savoury scone maybe? It seems like they used a different flour too as it is nothing like the other scones in texture, weight or to look at.

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Moving on to number six, we sliced into the scones from The Gourmet Tart. Now, as I live with a baker, there is very little need for me to buy a loaf of bread around here, but I have been known to purchase their seeded Ciabatta on occasion.

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Here is what the tasting panel had to say:

Expert 1: This tastes burnt. The raisins are hard and there is not enough fruit.

Expert 2: Burnt outside and undercooked in the middle. The oven was too hot.

Expert 3: I just don’t like it. It is too doughy/under baked in the middle.

Expert 4: This is kind of like eating cream crackers. It’s doughy and dry at the same time. and a bit of a slimy-across-the-tongue texture.

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And last but not least, we finished up with Morton’s of Galway. Now, as we were doing a blind tasting, you can be sure that the tasters did not have a clue they were rating my husband’s scone. Had they even tried to guess, it would have been impossible because  all scones were so different. Had the panelists known they were sampling his morning efforts, they might have shown bias or have chosen not be honest enough with him – just to spare his hurt feelings, bless their little hearts.

Feedback is crucial folks. Be it positive or negative. We can always learn from a bit of criticism.

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Here is what the tasting panel had to say:

Expert 1: There is not enough fruit. The cranberries are lovely – just need more. The scone is delicious.

Expert 2: Baked perfectly. Great crunch, mouthfeel and texture. More fruit please. I’d up the price to €0.90 and add loads more cranberries. ( I wonder how Eric Morton will feel about this?)

Expert 3: This is a good scone. I’d buy it again.

Expert 4: A bit salty and shaped too perfectly but not bad.

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So there you have it guys and dolls.

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It was clear to us which bakeries were using a high quality flour and just raw ingredients. Some are using a premixed ‘just add water’ kind of mix and others are using a product that has lots of dough conditioners and modifiers in it.

A pre-mix is not necessarily the end of the world, and many bakeries use this because it is hard to offer consistency when you have a (sometimes) transitional staff. One baker makes and bakes the first batch in the morning and the lunchtime baker does the next batch. The first baker might mix his batch by hand, making sure the dough is never overworked and sticks to the recipe. The second-shift baker might throw it all into the mixer because they are in a hurry and could forget to add salt if not following the recipe.

You can’t compete with a bakery that offers consistency all year round. They are the ones who deserve the title of #BestScone in Galway and Ireland for that matter.

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Kai Café always showcases the most beautiful baked goods.

So, our panelists all agreed that Kai and Morton’s shared second place and Taste at Born  ranked third.

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Only one bakery had their ingredients listed – Morton’s (eggs, butter, marg, flour, salt, sugar, raising agent, milk, cream, buttermilk, cranberries). Morton’s takes the lead in offering the cheapest scone out of the bunch listed here, an they also offer mini scones at €0.38 ea – this is a great deal.

The clear winner for all panelists was:

Number FOUR – The Oven Door

 

So now that I have done all the hard work for you and whetted your appetite for a lovely warm scone this dreary dismal Saturday morning, can you let your fingers do the walking and please nominate your favourite scone in Galway!

Vote here on Facebook or here on Twitter.

Thanks for reading along and enjoy the bank holiday weekend!

WiseMóna

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If you would like to be added to our panel of expert tasters for future research, shoot me an email at MonaZWise {at} GMail {dot} com

And if you have a favourite scone – leave  a comment right here below telling us why it is so great, and share a link so everyone else can check them out.

I have already heard from a few people over on Instagram that PoppySeed in Galway and The Hungry BookWorm in Loughrea have excellent scones.

 

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6 Comments + Add Comment

  • Check out Caroline Brennan’s scones sold at the Ardrahan Farmers Market.

    • I most certainly will and I have never been to the Ardrahan market so look forward to that too!
      Is it on Saturday mornings?

    • I’m just looking at this now Interesting post -I love my scone! Market is on Saturdays Mona in Ardrahan village from 10am to 2pm. Caroline s scones are amazing! Be a lovely market to blog about. It’s only small but she’s a hidden gem..and the fruit and veg stall is amazing also!

      • Hi there,
        You know, I have to go check out that market – I have heard a lot about it.
        I will put it on the list and thanks for the heads up!

  • Zinc and Friars – NUIG – best raspberry scones ever!

    • I am deff. gonna try the ones from Friars now. Where is Zinc?

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About Móna
I am a native Galway girl that seems to be drawn to professions that rhyme with 'err'. Writer, Mother, Restauranteur, Wedding Planner, Dishwasher, Grass cutter, Cocktail maker. I suppose you could say I am a well rounded entrepreneur.
You can find me here
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Ron Wise About the Chef
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He prefers face to face communication.

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