What Is The Best Scone Recipe In The UK?
You’ll find scones in nearly every supermarket, high street baker and teashop, or café in the UK. But the truth is, the results are almost always hugely disappointing. The very best examples arrive on your plate while still warm from the oven, so if you want to enjoy the uniquely British experience that is the scone, it’s well worth looking for the best scone recipe in the UK and having a go at making your own.
One of the issues is that, although the scone might appear to be one of the plainest, least fancy baked goods around, they can actually be a lot harder to get right than first appearances might suggest. But with some top tips gathered from some of the best bakers around, and a bit of practice too, you’ll master your own recipe and techniques to make scones that are perfect to your taste every time. And then you might never bother with shop-bought efforts ever again! Here, we look at a few of the basic do’s and don’ts, and then we make some suggestions for twists to ensure your scone recipe can be as unique as you want it to be.
Great Tips For Perfect Scones Every Time
One of the best tips for almost any English scones recipe is always to use the best quality and freshest ingredients you can afford. Anything less can lead to disappointment and maybe a false economy. For instance, digging out the baking soda that’s been at the back of your cupboard for years may result in your scones not rising as well as they should. That’s because baking soda attracts moisture and humidity and becomes less potent over time. For best results, use it before it’s been open for six months.
Our next great tip is to make sure your ingredients are as cold as possible before you start – that includes the butter, the eggs, and milk or cream too, if you’re using it. Why cold? Well, that’s because you don’t want your butter to melt before you put the scones in the oven. If the butter in your dough is cold when it goes into the oven, it will melt as your batch is baking and help create that flaky, layered melt-in-the-mouth texture that the best scones have. Good scone recipes also suggest chilling your prepared scones before they go in the oven, because this will cool the mixture down after you’ve kneaded it.
Speaking of kneading, while you’re mixing your ingredients and preparing the dough, one important caveat is never to work it too much. Scones are not like other baked goods such as bread, where you want to knead the dough enough to form the gluten network that makes your end product rise and gives it both strength and structure. If you over-knead scone dough, your scones will come out chewy, dense, and tough, rather than light and crumbly. Use just enough pressure for just enough time to get the ingredients to combine together.
Once your dough is ready, another handy hint you’ll find in perfect scone recipes in the UK is not to bake them too far in advance – they don’t store as well as you might think. Instead, pre-prepare the dough, cut it into scone shapes and leave the baking tray in the fridge, ready to pop in the oven just before you need them. Nothing beats a scone fresh out of the oven! If baking them long in advance is unavoidable, leave them to cool completely before covering them with foil or placing them in a sealable container. Store at room temperature, never in the fridge, and eat within one to two days.
The final tip in this section is when it comes to cutting out scone shapes from your dough. Remember you want them to rise, so don’t have the dough too thick – around 2.5cm is best. Also, don’t cut your shape too large – around 6cm is about right. Shape the dough with your hands, not a rolling pin, and never press down too hard with your hands.
Appealing Alternatives To Plain Or Fruit Scones
Whether you’re lucky enough to have had a mother or grandmother who baked scones at home or you’ve enjoyed them at teashops while on holiday, the most common type out there is either plain or has raisins or currants added. Typically, we British eat them with clotted cream and jam – strawberry for preference – as one of our national pastimes! But once you’ve got the basics of the recipe mastered (and there’s a great one here at I Cook The World) there’s no harm in getting creative.
Many people find cheese scones highly more-ish, and there will be a perfect cheese scone recipe in the UK for you. You’re not even limited to a particular cheese – in fact, you can use any one that’s hard enough to be grated into your mixture. Note, though, that the milder the cheese you use, the more you’ll need to put in. Try adding a touch of cayenne pepper, hot smoked paprika, or some mustard powder to give the flavour an extra-delicious bite. You can even pop in some dried herbs or chives to top it off and give the inside of the scone a more interesting look.
Perhaps scones remain a sweet treat as far as you’re concerned, though. In that case, the sky’s the limit. Add chocolate chips – milk, plain and white chocolate are all delicious. You could throw in some nuts, like pecan or walnut. What about cinnamon, blueberries or raspberries? Alternatively, mix some flavours for festive treats: cranberry and orange give scones a Christmas twist, for example. Or why not try one of our favourites here at I Cook The World: wholemeal scones with chocolate and raisins?
If you have specific dietary preferences, you can adapt your recipe to suit quite easily too. For instance, for vegan scones, substitute soy milk and a good vegan vegetable spread for the butter, eggs, and milk. For gluten-free scones, buy a gluten-free flour and baking soda, and use xanthan gum instead of eggs.
All in all, scones are highly versatile and can be created to suit nearly every taste and individual. For some more ideas on great recipes, handy hints on producing the perfect scone, and much more, including recipes from all around the world, browse the I Cook The World website here at https://icooktheworld.com/.
If you’d like to contact us to ask any questions or leave a review of any of our recipes, there’s a handy contact form here. You can also call us at 01738 315 477.
Have fun baking scones with our simple scone recipe from the UK. We look forward to hearing from you!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is a scone?
A scone (pronounced /skoʊn/ or /skɒn/) is a type of small cake usually made from wheat flour or oatmeal. Baking powder is included in the recipe to ensure the scone rises when baked, which is done on a flat tray. Scones tend to be sweetened with a little sugar and are sometimes glazed with an egg wash.
Why is it called a scone?
It’s thought the word ‘scone’ derives from the name for the Stone of Destiny in Scotland. This is where Scottish kings were once crowned. In those days, buttermilk was used as a leavening agent and the scones were cooked over an open fire on a griddle, rather than baked in the oven as they are now.
What are the qualities of a good scone?
Typical scone baking instructions in the UK will tell you that a good scone is soft and light in texture, coloured white around the sides and on the inside, but with a golden-brown top and base. To achieve this, pre-heat your oven to around 200–230oC before placing the scones in it, so the scone dough will set quickly.
How do I get my scones to rise and be fluffy?
Check your baking powder is fresh. Discard if it’s been open for more than six months. Scone baking procedure in the UK advises against kneading the dough too much – that prevents scones from rising sufficiently. Knead the dough just enough to combine all the ingredients. Only use a light dusting of flour when rolling out the dough for cutting.
How do you know when scones are done?
The typical scone baking directions in the UK suggest baking them between 18 and 23 minutes in an oven heated to 200-230oC. They’re done when they’re a very light, golden brown. If you bake them too long, they’ll be too dry. The right texture is moist, but not wet and doughy. Break one open to check before removing the batch.
What do scones smell like?
Flavoured with dried fruits, nuts, or spices, scones will smell of these, as well as the butter, caramelised sugar, and toasted flour as they bake. It’s a warm, comforting smell that reminds many people of their childhoods. A savoury scones recipe in the UK will smell of whatever flavourings you use.
What happens if you put too much butter in scones?
Adding too much butter can make your end-product more closely resemble a dense cookie than a light and airy scone. A handy tip from the best scone recipe in the UK is to ensure your butter is as cold as possible before adding it to the recipe. It then melts in the oven, creating satisfying air pockets and layers.
Should you cover scones after baking?
It’s better not to cover scones until completely cool – around 40 minutes after baking. Otherwise, moisture is trapped within and makes them unpleasantly mushy. Storing in a plastic bag or in the fridge damages texture and taste. When thoroughly cool, place scones in an airtight container with kitchen roll beneath them to absorb any moisture, and eat within two days.
How long do scones last?
If you store them at room temperature, scones are at their best for one to two days after baking. That means you’re better baking them fresh for a special occasion. To store them after baking, wait till properly cool, then place in an airtight container or wrap in foil. That prevents them from drying out.
Are scones supposed to be dry or moist?
According to some scone baking guides in the UK, scones should be moist, soft and light like bread is, not hard and dry like a biscuit. Scones should be crumbly in texture, but shouldn’t fall apart as soon as you pick them up! In some ways, it’s a matter of personal taste how moist or dry they are.
The History of Scones
While the first recorded mention in print of the scone was by a Scottish poet in 1513, it’s likely this baked treat has been made in England, Scotland, and Ireland for far longer. If not named after the Stone of Destiny in Scotland where kings were crowned, it’s likely the word ‘scone’ comes from the Dutch or German words for a fine, white bread.
The original scone baking technique in the UK used oats and cooked a round, flat cake on a griddle, then cutting that into quarters or sixths. Today, scones are made with flour, sugar, baking soda, eggs, milk, and butter, sometimes with raisins or currants. They’re baked in the oven in a round, square, or diamond-shape.
How the British Really Eat Scones
The basic scone recipe in the UK is for scones that are plain or have raisins and currants or other dried fruits added. Some bakers add cheese for a savoury scone, but sweet is more common.
In the UK, the scone forms the staple of the cream tea, or afternoon tea, when it is topped with clotted cream and jam. While many cut the scone in half and add cream and jam to the centre, the traditional way is to tear off chunks and add the cream and jam as you eat each.
Nutritional Facts of a Scone
Depending on the ingredients used, the average 100g of a plain scones recipe in the UK will contain 374 calories, of which 18g is fat, 6.4g is protein and around 48g of carbohydrates.
A scone with fruit contains around 366 calories per 100g, 16g of which is fat, 6.1g protein, and 51g carbohydrates.
Adding 30g of clotted cream will add 176 calories while a tablespoon of strawberry jam will add another 56 calories.
The Great Scone Debate: Should The Cream Or Jam Be Spread First?
Ask someone from Cornwall and they’ll insist that the jam comes first before the cream. Pose the same question to a Devonian, and they’ll tell you it’s cream, then jam. But a recent survey of 2,000 people across the British Isles came down firmly of the side of jam before cream, with 52% insisting this is the right way round. Only a quarter smother cream on first; and around a fifth say it really doesn’t matter!
It’s all personal preference. Why not use our easy scone recipe in the UK and see which you prefer?
Ideal Tips for Enjoying The Perfect Scone
- Use our fruit scone recipe from the UK for afternoon tea for a uniquely British experience. Never eat it like a sandwich; break small chunks off and consume it as a finger food.
- Enjoy with an English breakfast tea, or try a cup of Earl Grey, Lapsang Souchong, or an Assam tea.
- Flavour scones according to season – try cinnamon at Easter, or gingerbread at Christmas.
- Eat scones fresh from the oven for the most delicious flavour and add cream and jam to taste. The ideal ratio is two parts scone to one each of jam and cream.
Are you inspired to get baking? Join us here at I Cook The World. We have a host of the best scone recipes and a lot more besides!