Basic Scone Recipe

English tea scones are the dainty fare of afternoon tea parties and Sunday-morning brunches. Like biscuits, they are a quickbread, sweet and buttery, which can be varied in flavor and additions just like a basic muffin recipe.

The most sought-after type is cream scones. Flour, sugar and eggs are mixed with butter and some additions such as raisins, currants, nuts, cranberries or blueberries.

The dough is shaped, brushed with egg and sprinkled with sugar, cut in wedge shapes and then baked to a golden brown. Prepared just before the tea and refrigerated, they can be baked just as the guests begin to arrive, filling the whole house with the wonderful aroma of hot-buttered bread.

Scones can be served with omelets, bowls of fresh fruit, jams or preserves, or even with a favorite soup. Topped with a dollop of Devonshire cream and served with fresh orange wedges or whole strawberries, scones make a beautiful presentation. What could be prettier or more appetizing on a tea table spread with a white lace tablecloth? Add a vase of lilacs or roses and some soft music, and you have an afternoon teatime to be remembered.

Scones were an English invention to be served with tea and crumpets. Crumpets are named for the English word "crump" which means "curled" or "bent." Crumpets differ in that they are made with scalded milk and yeast, much like English muffins. They are baked in muffin rings, then toasted and served with jam.

Scones, though considered old-fashioned and extremely difficult to make, are really just a simple quickbread, like muffins or biscuits.

Basic Scones

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 medium eggs
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons baking powder
  • 6 tablespoons softened sweet butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 additional egg (for brushing biscuits before baking)
  • 4 teaspoons coarse sugar (Turbinado) for sprinkling over tops
  1. Mix the dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking powder and granulated sugar. Cut in the butter with your fingers, working the butter into the flour mixture. Beat the two eggs and add along with the milk to the flour. Stir until mixed, but do not over-stir.
  2. Work the dough into a ball. Divide into three parts. Shape each into a circle with a rounded top. Chill the dough for a few minutes or until just ready to bake.
  3. Preheat oven to 425º F and grease a cookie sheet. Place the rounds of dough on the baking sheets. Using a sharp knife, cut the circles into six wedges. Cut 2/3 way down into the dough, but do not separate the wedges completely.)
  4. Brush the tops with beaten egg. This is called an egg wash.
  5. Sprinkle the coarse sugar over the tops.
  6. Bake at 425º F for 15 minutes.

If desired, before the circles of dough are formed, you may vary the recipe by adding ½ cup chopped cranberries or ½ cup currants, ½ cup golden raisins, a sprinkling or finely chopped nuts or other fruit.

Cream scones use cream in the place of milk in the recipe.

Serve warm with Devonshire cream. Devonshire cream is made with equal amounts or sour cream and whipped cream into which ¼ cup confectioner's sugar has been folded. A sprinkle of cinnamon, nutmeg or a ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract may also be added.

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