I never used to understand the obsession and appeal of scones. Not until I took a bite of a truly great one, that is.
Many scones are bland and dense. Why would I want to waste an indulgence on that?!
It wasn’t until I perfected my own recipe that I realized how delightful scones can be. They’re somehow sturdier and heartier than biscuits, but without being overly dry or crumbly.
What I love most about them (besides all. the. BUTTER.) is that they belong on pretty much any breakfast or brunch table. You can dress them up by adding nuts, citrus zest, or chocolate chips. Or simply serve them plain alongside some local jam or homemade flavored butter.
Any way you serve these, they’re bound to be perfect if you follow my tips below!
Perfect Scone Baking Tips
It must be COLD. The cold butter creates that beautiful tall flaky texture. I like to cube then freeze my butter before using it. I also always prefer to use unsalted butter for baking, you can find out why here: Salted vs. Unsalted Butter.
This is absolutely the preferred liquid for scones. It will result in tender taller biscuit because of how its acidity reacts with the baking powder. It also adds a lovely tang to create more depth of flavor.
I would highly advise using real buttermilk instead of a substitute. You can learn more about buttermilk here.
Whatever you do, do not overmix the dough or allow it to get too warm. Doing so will result in flatter, tougher, and less flaky scones. My absolute favorite tool for making biscuits or scone dough quickly and easily by hand (so I don’t have to lug out my food processor) is this OXO bladed pastry blender. LOVE.
Use a marble pastry board to help keep the dough cool. If at any point you notice the butter become greasy and melty, pop the dough into the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes before proceeding.
You can also pop the tray of shaped unbaked scones in the fridge or freezer while the oven preheats to ensure the butter remains nice and cold.
How to Make Scones Ahead of Time
The shaped unbaked scones can be covered and refrigerated overnight, or placed in an airtight container and frozen for up to 1 month. If baking from frozen, add about 2 minutes to the baking time.
Scone Flavor Variations
Feel free to get creative with your scone flavorings! Listed below are some ideas with specific ingredient additions. But you can add in about 3/4 cup of dried fruit, chips, nuts, etc. to the dough. If using fruit, dried fruit or frozen berries work best!
Use a spatula to gently fold in the 1 1/2 cups blueberries to the scone dough as a final step before shaping. Take care not to break the blueberries or their color will bleed. If using frozen blueberries, keep frozen and don’t thaw before using.
Lemon Poppy Seed
Add 3 tablespoons poppy seeds + 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest to the dough
Mix 3 tablespoons granulated sugar with 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and sprinkle on the egg-coated unbaked scones.
- 1 1/2 cups (188 grams) powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons water, milk, or citrus juice
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract, or other extract
- Citrus zest, to taste, if desired
Whisk all glaze ingredients together until thick but still pourable. Spread over cooled scones and let stand until set.
January Baking Challenge
This recipe is the selection for our monthly baking challenge! Make a batch of scones (feel free to get creative with flavors!), snap a pic, and upload below for a chance to win. Click here to get all of the details.
January 2020 Baking Challenge
(381 grams) all-purpose flour
(66 grams) granulated sugar
sticks (170 grams) unsalted butter,
cold and cubed
large eggs, divided
Coarse sugar, for sprinkling
Adjust the oven rack to the center position and preheat to 400°F. Line two baking pans with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
Add the butter and cut with a pastry cutter or a fork until the butter is the size of large peas.
In a separate bowl whisk together the buttermilk, 1 egg, and vanilla extract.
Make a well in the middle and add the liquid mixture. Mix until just combined. Don’t over mix. If adding in dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, or other flavorings do so now.
Transfer the dough to a floured surface and divide into 2 equal parts. Lightly knead each into 3/4 inch thick, 6-diameter rounds. Cut each round into 8 wedges and place on your prepared baking pans. Space them out about 2 inches apart.
At this point the unbaked scones can be refrigerated overnight, or sealed and frozen for up to 1 month. If baking from frozen, add about 2 minutes to the baking time.
In a small bowl, combine the remaining egg with 1 teaspoon water. Brush over the scones. Sprinkle with the coarse sugar, if using.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. The scones are best served warm, or within a few hours of baking.
Photos by Constance Higley.