Learn how to make these easy British style scones and get ready for your next tea party, weekend brunches, or lazy afternoons. I had many scones in my life, but these easy delicious British scones won my heart. This is the recipe I have been asked to share with so many who have tasted them.
Morning coffee and afternoon tea would not be complete without fresh scones, and there are so many delicious varieties.
What is a scone?
Yes, there are people out there who asked me what a scone is. I was kind of shocked too, but hey, I do not know a lot of things either.
A scone is a round cake made of raised dough, which may be sweet or savory. Scones originated in Scotland in the 16th century, and they are considered a national Scottish dish.
According to Tina Jesson, in her "Tina's Traditional Book of Scones," the original Scottish scone varied significantly from the scones we see today. They used to be made from oats.
Also, you might find the name Scon, especially in Scotland and Ireland, while the term Scone is used in the rest of England, the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Both terms are correct.
The basic modern scone recipes are made with flour, baking powder, and butter. Milk or buttermilk is used as the liquid, but heavy cream or cream and sometimes even an egg is added for extra richness.
Scones are eaten at breakfast or for tea, usually served hot, split in half, and buttered. In Great Britain, scones are served with clotted cream and jam.
As much as we think that scones are some sort of British biscuits, they are not. Besides the shape that might be similar, the way a scone is made is different than an American biscuit.
The British way of shaping the scones is usually biscuits, like, cut with a round cutter. The American way is more triangular-shaped.
However, even in Great Britain, you will see scones in different shapes than the regular ones.
Americans also tend to make scones enriched with chopped fruits, chocolate chips, nuts, orange or lemon zest, dried currants, berries, cheese herbs, spices, molasses, or even pumpkin.
While British people do not add so many ingredients to their scones, you can still find raisins or currants in some recipes. A good scone in Great Britain is supposed to be light and well-risen.
Also, a scone made with milk or heavy cream will rise less compared with a scone made with buttermilk.
How to make good scones
- Mix dough by hand- The secret of making good scones is a quick, light hand when mixing and a hot oven. The best scones are made by hand, so don't be tempted to mix them in a machine as they become dense, which is not an effect we are looking for.
- Re-rolling the scraps- Gather up the bits of dough and press them gently together, as over-handling will lead to tough scones.
- Shape- Making the scones in a triangular shape, like a wedge, will avoid handling the dough too much.
- Cold butter- working with cold butter rather than room temperature will give you a nice flakier texture to your final scones.
- Amount of liquid- Always hold back on some of the liquid to allow you to judge when you've added enough. Ingredients, like flour, behave differently depending on many variables, and it is much easier to add more liquid than to try to rebalance with extra flour. You aim for a dough that holds together without crumbling, but that isn't overly sticky to handle.
- Glaze the scones- If you have a little beaten egg left over, use it to glaze the scones before baking. You can mix it with some milk to make it go further.
- Preheating the baking tray and baking in a fully preheated oven will help give your scones a nice crust and a good rise.
How to make this recipe
Start preheating the oven. This is a rule that needs to be followed any time you need to bake something. Baked goods that contain buttermilk and baking soda or baking powder need to go inside a heated oven as soon as the dough is prepared.
In a large chilled mixing bowl, sift the flour and baking powder. Add the sugar and salt, orange, lemon zest or both.
Add the butter bits and using your fingers, rub the flour mixture and butter together until they look like flakes of course meal.
If you want to add chocolate chips or dried fruits, this is the moment to toss them in the flour mixture.
Use a whisk to beat the egg separately in a small bowl. Add the heavy whipping cream and the vanilla extract.
Pour the liquid over the flour mixture. With your hands, toss together until the dough can be gathered into a compact ball. Do not knead.
Lightly flour a surface and roll the dough out about ½ inch thick circle.
Use a cookie cutter or the rim of a glass, cut the dough into 2-inch rounds.
Reroll and cut the scraps into similar rounds. Place the rounds about 1 inch apart on the baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes or until lightly brown.
Serve it with Devonshire Cream (if you have any available) and your favorite jam. Butter is good too, especially the Irish butter that you can find in almost any grocery store in the US.
How to keep the scones fresh and how to freeze them
One of the nicest things you can serve to a visitor is a freshly baked scone, but the reality is we do not always have the time to whip something up on the day we want to serve them.
For this reason, I gathered some great tips for serving scones whenever you need to.
- Already cut out dough- you can prepare and cut out the dough into individual scones. Lay them out on a parchment-lined baking tray and freeze them for an hour or two. Transfer them to a Ziploc bag for more efficient storage in your freezer, where they will be good for up to three months. Label the bags of shaped scones with the date, so you know when to use them.
- Already baked scones- Scones are usually consumed on the day they were baked, but if you will not eat them the same day, wrap them airtight and freeze them. Consider making a large batch of scones or doubling up smaller recipes and freezing half of them. They will stay fresh for a month. To serve, defrost the scones at room temperature in their wrappers, then unwrap and reheat them on a baking sheet for five minutes in a 350F oven.
Some other recipes you might like
My last word on scones is to always use quality ingredients when you bake. Serve them with jam and clotted cream, like the Devonshire Cream that you can find in specialized stores. Or just serve them with a cup of coffee or tea as they are. Enjoy!
- 1 tablespoon butter, softened(for brushing the baking sheet) OR just parchment paper to cover the baking sheet
- 2 cups flour
- ⅓ cup sugar(or 4 tablespoons)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼inch bits
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 large egg
- 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Optional: ¼ cup white or dark chocolate chips, OR ¼ cup raisins/cranberries, orange zest from one orange
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Using a pastry brush, coat a large baking sheet with the softened butter and set it aside, or cover the baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large chilled mixing bowl, sift the flour and baking powder. Add the sugar and salt.
- Add the butter bits and using your fingers, rub the flour mixture and butter together until they look like flakes of course meal.
- If you want to add chocolate chips or dried fruits, this is the moment to toss them in the flour mixture.
- Use a whisk to beat the egg separately in a small bowl. Add the heavy whipping cream and the vanilla extract.
- Pour the liquid over the flour mixture. With your hands, toss together until the dough can be gathered into a compact ball. Do not knead.
- Lightly flour a surface and roll the dough out about ½ inch thick circle.
- Use a cookie cutter or the rim of a glass, cut the dough into 2-inch rounds.
- Reroll and cut the scraps into similar rounds. Place the rounds about 1 inch apart on the baking sheet.
- Bake for about 15 minutes or until lightly brown.
- Serve it with Devonshire Cream and your favorite jam.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 216Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 40mgSodium: 144mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 1gSugar: 10gProtein: 3g