Royal Show’s relentless scone makers rise to a record challenge

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They may be mere morsels of flour and milk that are consumed in seconds, but there are some golden rules to follow to avoid mucking up when making scones.

And Joy Davis – the chief scone maker at this year’s Melbourne Royal Show – knows all the secrets.

Joyful task: Chief scone maker and volunteer Joy Davis at the Melbourne Royal Show’s CWA Cafeteria.Credit: Wayne Taylor

Hers is a tried-and-true method, the kind Paul Kelly could write a song about in the vein of How To Make Gravy.

Use an old-style bone-handled, flat-bladed knife – not a spoon or electric mixer – to blend flour, milk, cream and a pinch of salt, Davis advises. No fancy ingredients such as lemonade are needed.

Shape and roll the dough a little, but handle it as little as possible. Cut out each scone with a scone cutter. Brush with milk before baking.

Then there is the eternal question about serving that divides the world: do you spread the jam first and then the cream, or vice-versa?

“I always put the jam first,” is Davis’ firm view. “It’s tradition. I’ve always done it that way. Some people do it the other way.”

Country Women’s Association Victorian president Jenny Nola – who, for the record, is also in the jam-first camp – said Davis’ scones were “to die for”.

“They’re light, fluffy, and they never fail,” Nola said. “She’s trying to train a small band of new scone makers for the future.”

They must be doing something right: last year Davis and her colleagues in the popular CWA Cafeteria at the Showgrounds made a record 16,190 scones over the 11 days of the Show.

This year, Joy and the team of scone-making volunteers are aiming for 17,000.

But Davis, who can personally bake up to 600 scones a day, is relaxed about it.

“You’ve got to work at your own pace,” she said.

“We’ll see how we go. If we can beat it, we’ll be thrilled, but to do a good job, that’s the most important thing. Keep up the quality.”

The feedback from the public can be lovely. “Some people say they always come to the show so they can have some scones,” Davis said. “They say it reminds them of what their grandmother used to make.”

Lou Cooper, of Carnegie, was enjoying scones for morning tea on Thursday, the first day of the Show, with her family.

The group headed straight for the scones as part of an annual Show ritual before moving to other attractions including the animal nursery. “It’s part of the Show experience,” Cooper said.

The family was also helping a good cause: the cafeteria, which is run by 200 volunteers and offers fare including roast meals, sandwiches, quiches and pavlovas, is the Victorian CWA’s major fundraiser. It is expected to raise more than $100,000 this year.

Davis, 77, has been a member of the CWA in Traralgon, in the Latrobe Valley east of Melbourne, for more than 50 years.

She will be making scones for 10 Show days – for nine hours a day – this year, but she loves it.

“I call it my working holiday,” she said. “I look forward to it every year – the companionship, working as a team, side by side with ladies from all over the state. We catch up each year, and it’s lovely.”

Show organisers said 20,000 people attended on Thursday, and they were expecting about 50,000 a day over the weekend.

The event runs until October 1. Tickets and information can be found at

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