The classic scone hits a sweet spot in me. Growing up, my aunts introduced me to the 4:00 PM “Afternoon Tea Time”. This is traditionally practiced in Great Britain. During teatime, the British usually have their tea with scones. The classic scone has mostly remained in its definitive form but the time in which to have it has evolved from teatime to breakfast time.
The first known record of “Scones” was back in the 1500s in a Scottish cookbook. The earlier scones were made out of oats and were shaped into a large circle, divided into four or six. Each wedge was cooked individually in a griddle.
Today’s scones are a variety of quick breads meaning it is made out of flour, baking soda or powder, salt, sugar, buttermilk and eggs. In some places, scones are still eaten with clotted cream, butter and jam while in some, the partner to scones have become anything you want to eat it with – Nutella, peanut butter, or even cheese.
What is the difference between a Scone and a Biscuit?
Scones and biscuits are closely similar to each other. Both are crumbly quick breads that do not form a gluten network. The ingredients of both are butter, flour, salt, sugar and milk/water. Butter is usually rubbed into the flour and both ingredients are loosely incorporated with one another with simply the liquid holding the mixture together. This method creates a nice crumbly texture when you bite into both.
So since both are so similar to one another, what is the difference? If you’re not a connoisseur, it would be quite challenging to tell the two apart.
Scones are slightly sweeter than biscuits. Biscuits are meant to be paired with savory accompaniments. Scones are usually eaten with clotted cream, butter and jam while biscuits are meant to be eaten with gravy and meat.
Some would say that egg is the main difference between scones and biscuits. Some people use eggs to bind the ingredients of the scone but in this recipe, we don’t use eggs.
What is the difference between American scones and British scones?
It’s the same but different.
The key difference between American and British scones is the amount of butter. A British scone contains less butter in the recipe because butter is eaten with the scone. An American scone contains 2-3 times the amount of butter that a British scone contains because an American scone can usually be eaten alone, without other toppings.
British scones are also less sweet compared to American scones. American scones tend to be significantly sweeter and the presence of fruits or chocolates sets them apart from the British scones. In shape, American scones are usually shaped like wedges with a glaze while British scones are often round, sort of looking like an American biscuit but sweeter and taller.
Both kinds of scones are equally delicious but of course, it all boils down to preference.
What is the secret to making amazing scones?
Whether you’re making an American scone or a British scone, the best secrets to making amazing scones remain the same.
To make amazing scones, make sure that your butter is cold or even frozen. Cold butter allows to create air in between the ingredients while it’s being cooked therefore creates this crumbly and crisp texture. You may use cold butter and a pastry cutter to incorporate the flour and the butter. You may also use the frozen grated butter technique. The only difference is the time you do the hard labor of cutting the butter. You make grate your frozen butter ahead of time and rub the flour in with it. Using a chilled bowl also helps!
Make sure that you do not over-mix the flour, butter, and liquid mixture. The less compact the dough is, the better. If the dough is overmixed, it will create a gluten network and you will end up having a compact scone rather than a nice crumbly one.
After shaping your scones, you may chill it first before baking. Make sure that you’ve created good spacing in between each scone in the baking sheet as to avoid sticking.
Why are my scones hard and dry?
If you end up having hard and dry scones, it is most likely you over mixed the dough and you didn’t use enough liquid.
Over mixing the scone dough stiffens the ingredients into a hard mess. You want to avoid doing that for best results. Scones are supposed to be crumbly and tender.
Dry scones simply do not have enough liquid in them and/or it was baked for too long under low heat.
Baking in different weather conditions compared to the recipe you’re following is a little tricky. The environment wherein you’re baking is a factor when mixing ingredients. The moisture or lack of in the room will affect the mixture. If you’re in a wet area and you feel that the liquid content is too much, don’t use everything. If you’re in a dry area and you feel as if the liquid is not enough, add just a tad bit more.
If you’re baking breads in low heat for longer than you should, the product will automatically dry and won’t bake properly. Make sure that you preheat your oven with the right temperature and bake with the right amount of time.
Can I freeze scones before baking?
Yes, you may! This is one of the secrets that was mentioned earlier. If you chill/freeze your scones before baking, it’ll give you the best crisp and crumbly results. The cold butter in the mixture will surely work its way in the baking process, creating air in between the layers of flour. Not only will the leavening product (baking soda or baking powder) rise but the butter will help the whole dough rise as well.
Classic Scone Recipe
- 1.6 cup flour
- 3 tbsp butter
- 0.8 cup milk
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 2 pinches salt
Flavoring Tips (Choose one)
- 3 ounce fruit (Blue berry, apricot, raisin or something else)
- 3 ounce nuts
- 1 tsp cinnamon 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp cardamon 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp saffron 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract 1 tbsp sugar
- Preheat the oven to 480F (250C)
- Mix the flour, baking soda, salt and flavoring if you have any. Chop the butter and add it to the mix, then add milk and knead it to a sticky dough.
- Make 2 cakes, 8 buns or 1 long dough on a plate with baking paper. Toss it in the oven for 10-12 minutes.
- Serve with cheese, marmalade or Nutella.