First mentioned in a Scottish poem in 1513, scones have been bringing people joy for over 500 years. Scones rose to popularity in the 1800s in England when Anne, the Duchess of Bedford, asked for some "sweetbreads" with her tea. Scones were served and she was so delighted with them that she included them with her tea thereafter. And there you have it- scones have been served as the perfect pairing with tea and coffee ever since!
Though we now think of scones as the soft, delicious, crumbly pastries that they are, they did not start out this way. Scones were originally round oatmeal cakes that were cooked over a fire, and then cut into triangles after they baked. Over the years, scones evolved into the pastries that we know and love today- typically made with a wheat flour base, they have a cake or biscuit-like texture and are baked in an oven. We also now add a variety of delicious mix-ins to scones, such as fruit, chocolate, and nuts.
There are two main types of scones that are made today, butter scones and cream scones. Butter scones have a more robust crumb and a biscuit-like texture that is caused by working butter into the dry ingredients before adding the wet ingredients. Cream scones have a more delicate, cake-like texture and a lighter crumb. They are also a bit less time consuming to make because the butter does not have to be worked into the dry ingredients.
Today, we will be sharing our recipe for cream scones, a recipe that we have been experimenting with and perfecting for years. These scones can be customized to just about any flavor, such as a sweet almond raspberry scone, or a more savory herbed cheese scone. This is a loose recipe that is meant to be experimented with. We have suggested some flavor combinations below, but take this recipe and make it your own. Be adventurous and come up with your own flavors!
- 3 cups (360 grams) all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
- 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) butter
- 2 cups heavy cream (plus extra for brushing)
- Up to 1 cup of additions (i.e. 1 cup frozen fruit, 1/2 cup chopped nuts and 1/2 cup chocolate chips, ect.)
- Make the Dough- In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt) and stir them together with a spatula. Add any additions that you are using, and stir again so that they are evenly distributed throughout the flour mixture. Next, melt the butter (you can do this in the microwave using a microwave-safe dish, or on the stove using a saucepan). Combine the melted butter and the heavy cream, then pour this mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Using your spatula, fold the ingredients together by scraping the bottom of the bowl with the spatula and bringing the contents from the bottom of the bowl to the top. Repeat this motion while rotating the bowl until large clumps begin to form (rotating the bowl will ensure that no pockets of wet or dry ingredients are missed). If the large clumps are not forming or fall apart, add more cream a tablespoon at a time until the large clumps form.
- Shape the Scones- Line an 8 inch round pan with plastic wrap, leaving an overhang of plastic wrap on all sides. Carefully transfer the dough to the pan. Using the overhanging plastic, press the dough into the pan to create a neat 8 inch circle. Gently unwrap the top of the shaped dough and turn the circle out onto your counter or other work surface. Using a pastry scraper or a knife, cut the circle of dough into 8 equal wedges.
- If Baking Immediately- Preheat the oven to 375°F. While the oven preheats, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, or spray the cookie sheet with cooking oil. Arrange the 8 scones on the sheet, giving a little space between each scone. Brush the top of each scone with some additional heavy cream, then sprinkle the scones with sugar- this will create a nice crust on the scones as they bake. Once the oven is preheated, bake the scones on the center rack for 20-30 minutes, or until the edges turn a golden brown. If you are using frozen fruit in the scones, make sure the dough around the fruit is fully cooked before removing the scones from the oven. Let the scones cool outside of the oven for at least 10 minutes, then serve and enjoy!
- If Freezing for Later- Place the scone wedges on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer until the scones are frozen solid (overnight). Once frozen, place scones in a ziplock bag and keep them in the freezer until you are ready to bake them (scones will last up to one month in the freezer in ziplock bags). When you are ready to bake them, preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the scones on a parchment-lined or oiled cookie sheet and bake (once the oven has preheated) for 25-40 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned. Make sure that the dough has fully cooked around any additions in the scones (fruit, nuts, etc.). Remove from the oven and cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
- To play with textures and flavors, try substituting 3/4 cup (90 grams) of the all purpose flour with buckwheat, millet, or kamut
- If you want a deeper flavor, substitute the 1/2 cup of sugar for 1/2 cup of brown sugar, or use 1/2 cup of coconut sugar
- Blueberry Buckwheat - substitute 3/4 cup of the all purpose flour for buckwheat, and add 1 cup of frozen blueberries
- Lavender Strawberry - add 1 tablespoon of dried lavender and 1 cup of frozen strawberries
- Lemon Blackberry - add zest of one lemon and 1 cup of frozen blackberries
- Raspberry Almond - add 1/2 cup of sliced almonds and 1/2 cup of frozen raspberries
- Herbed Cheese Scones- add 1 cup shredded cheese of choice (cheddar or gouda are great choices!) and two tablespoons of dried or fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, and basil are our favorites!)
Article and recipe by Kaitlyn Todd- founder of Sweet & Tarte
All pictures by Danielle Lopez Photography