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CWA baking its way to delicious record of 50,000 scones at Sydney Royal Easter Show

CWA members Kerrie-Ann Tomlins and Carol Vincent making scones in the CWA tea rooms at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.
CWA members Kerrie-Ann Tomlins (left) and Carol Vincent are part of the scone-baking team making 4,000 scones a day.

ABC Rural: Cara Jeffery

We know it's not all tea and scones for the Country Women's Association (CWA) but when it's show time, a Devonshire tea means big business for the bustling CWA tea rooms at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

In fact, the team of 450 volunteers from across New South Wales bakes and sells 4,000 scones a day to hungry showgoers.

The CWA tea rooms' committee chair Carol Vincent is hoping they sell 50,000 of the baked treats by the show's close.

"Last year we sold 49,200 scones, so this year we want to hit the target of 50,000," Mrs Vincent said.

Baking from dawn to dusk to feed the masses

Making and baking so many scones uses a lot of flour — more than two tonne.

The CWA primarily uses donated produce from Australian suppliers and during the Show, that includes 2.5 tonne of flour washed down with 18,000 tea bags.

And as for any tips to baking the perfect scone, Mrs Vincent keeps her cards close but offers a few morsels.

"A tip when baking scones at home is to put your cookware in the freezer so your mixing knife and stainless steel or crockery bowl are cold when you start."

Devonshire Tea served up at the CWA team rooms at the Sydney Royal East Show.
Devonshire Tea served up at the CWA team rooms at the Sydney Royal East Show.

ABC Rural: Cara Jeffery

CWA member Kerrie-Ann Tomlins said her secret to baking a CWA-worthy scone was "tenderness and kindness, and the mixing".

"After that, it's into the oven and the rest is history," Ms Tomlins laughed.

CWA prize-winning scones

  • 450g plain flour
  • 60g icing sugar
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 60g chilled butter, cubed
  • Approx. 310ml milk

1) Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Heat a baking tray in the oven.

2) Sift the flour, icing sugar, cream of tartar, bicarb soda, and salt together three times. Put into a bowl and rub in the butter. Make a well in the centre and pour into the well, about 3/4 of the milk. Use a knife to mix the milk through the flour to mix to a soft dough, adding remaining milk if needed to form a soft dough.

3) Turn out on to a floured board and lightly knead. The mixture should be handled as lightly as possible and patted into shape with your hands.

4) Cut the dough into shapes as desired and brush over with a little milk. Lightly flour the heated tray and place scones on the tray. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until a rich, golden brown.

Tip: Add a whisked egg with the milk if liked but reduce milk to about 250ml.

Recipe reproduced with the permission of the Country Women's Association of NSW.

To get all those scones into the oven each day means big days at the Show for the team of CWA volunteers.

Cooking kicks off at 6.30am daily and the last scones are baked at 5pm.

Each day the CWA committee is joined by 22 members who help them operate the tea rooms.

Like a well-oiled machine they each have their duties, including clearing tables, washing dishes, making sandwiches and of course, baking scones and serving tea, which they all take turns at.

"The tea rooms are open from 9.30am to 6pm and it's all systems go," Mrs Vincent said.

"When they open the door, it's like a flood of people come through and are all running to get to the tea rooms."

Ms Tomlins said by the end of each day, she was more foot-sore than wrist-sore but was happy to return each morning to the tea rooms because she enjoyed the camaraderie of working alongside other CWA members.

Meet you at the tea rooms!

The CWA Tea Rooms are quite a meeting place according to Mrs Vincent.

"A lot of people coming to the show say to their friends 'we'll meet you at the CWA tea rooms', because everyone seems to know where it is and we are in the same place every year," she said.

The tea rooms serve as the main shopfront for the CWA and the money made during the Show is distributed to organisations it supports including the Royal Flying Doctor Service and Doctors Without Borders.

The CWA has also donated $179,000 to the Sir Ivan Bushfire Appeal and will be assisting the flood recovery in the NSW northern rivers region.

CWA Tea Rooms at the Sydney Royal Easter Show
The CWA Tea Rooms at the Sydney Royal Easter Show are a bustling meeting place for city and country showgoers.

ABC Rural: Cara Jeffery