Scones are one of the first baked goods I learned how to make as a kid. My mom (and my whole family) love afternoon tea, especially the scones. I grew up making them every year for her birthday and Mother’s Day but on lots of other occasions too.
Because of that, I’ve tinkered and tested lots of different recipes and variants of this recipe over the years. This is the one I keep coming back to. It’s flaky, buttery, tender and absolutely perfect with a jam and dollop of clotted cream.
No offense to the cakey Starbucks scones or the dry scones you get at other coffee shops, but these are way better. They’re not too sweet, and they’re pretty close to authentic British scones if I do say so myself.
Why this recipe works
- The basic recipe is just 7 ingredients. In this case, simple really is best.
- You’ll notice that this recipe doesn’t have eggs. Most traditional scone recipes don’t. Eggs give scones more of a cakey texture vs a buttery, flaky one. I don’t eat eggs anyway, but that’s why you don’t see a flax egg or other egg substitute in this recipe.
- Baking powder gives your scones a bit of lift, without the gross aftertaste you get with baking soda.
- It’s not too sweet. 1/4 cup of sugar is enough to just lightly sweeten your scone. Most of your sweetness will come from the jam you top the scone with.
- While most scone recipes ask you to “cut in” the butter using pastry knives or forks, I’ve never quite managed to do this properly. Instead, I use my hands or a stand mixer to crumble the butter into the dough until it resembles coarse crumbs. Using your hands will warm the butter, but it works just fine because you’re going to chill the dough before baking your scones anyway. See “tips on making scones” below.
- Chill your scone dough for at least 10 minutes in the freezer before baking to allow the butter in the dough to chill. This will make for flaky scones and also keep your scones from spreading too much in the oven.
- Make sure your oven is preheated to 425 degrees Fahrenheit before putting your scones in. The delta in temperature between the oven and scone dough and the oven will ensure your scones are browned on the outside and moist in the center.
- Place your scones on the top rack of your oven, as the bottom tends to cook faster the the top.
- Bake your scones just before serving. These are best fresh. If you don’t want to eat them all right away, keep the prepared, shaped dough in an airtight container in the freezer and bake a few scones at a time. Note: you may need to add a couple minutes to your bake time if you bake the scones from frozen.
Tips for serving scones
- To reheat your scones, wrap each scone in a moist paper towel and microwave for 15 seconds
- Traditional scones are eaten with jam and clotted cream. Clotted cream can be hard to find in the U.S. Instead, whip 1/4 cup of heavy whipped cream with 1 teaspoon of powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. You can use a stand mixer + whisk attachment, electric whisk, or immersion blender for this. Whisk at high speed but watch carefully to make you sure you don’t over whip – you don’t want your cream to turn into butter.
Ingredients – scones
- 2 cups flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, and cut into small cubes
- 1/2 cup heavy cream, plus a little more
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Add ins – optional
- 1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
- 1/3 cup dried cherries or cranberries
Glaze – optional
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 tablespoon raw sugar
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl or stand mixer.
- Add butter and crumble it in using your hands or the stand mixture attachment until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Add cream, vanilla extract, and add ins (if using) and mix together until dough starts to comes together. The dough should be a little crumbly, but you can add a couple extra tablespoons of cream if needed.
- Place the dough on a piece of parchment paper on a flat surface Shape the dough into an 8 inch wide circle.
- Using a sharp knife, cut your disc into 8 triangles. Alternatively, use a cookie cutter to cut your scones into the shape of your choice. I used a heart shaped one here.
- Place your scones (along with the parchment paper) on a large plate. Wrap the plate in plastic wrap and place it in the freezer for 10 minutes. This will cool down the butter again so your scones don’t spread too much.
- Remove your dough from the fridge and place each scone on an ungreased baking sheet, 2 inches apart.
- Optional: Using a pastry brush, brush milk on the top of each scone and sprinkle with raw sugar.
- Bake scones for 14-15 minutes on the top rack of your oven or until the tops are just starting to get golden brown.