We all know scones as an English tradition served with tea and clotted cream, or at least that’s what first comes to mind when we think of them. But, scones actually originated in Scotland in the early 1500’s and became popular in England allegedly after the Duchess of Bedford was given some by her servants in the early 1800’s. Though the term is historically first found in Scotland they’ve had centuries to evolve across the globe, and many cultures have their own version of the quick bread. The earliest were more of a bannock, presumably more dense, whereas the English version we know and love is made flaky and light with cold butter. The American savory biscuit is another example, made with either butter or shortening, and often with a higher ratio of fat to flour than the European style. Whatever your preference we all know how hard it is to turn down the perfect scone, especially when slathered with butter and jam!
This recipe is just a base for you to experiment with. I like to keep mine simple with a little citrus zest, but you can fold in berries or raisins, or top with sliced almonds and different types of coarse sugars. I’ve actually made this batch with milk rather than cream because I didn’t have any on hand. The cream is necessary to achieve the proper fat content and because it doesn’t add as much water to the dough, but it technically still works. For best textural results use heavy cream or buttermilk.
I used lime zest in the scones and strawberry jam as the topping, because strawberries and lime are the perfect combination.
1+1/2 cups all purpose flour
1+1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon or ginger
1 lime, just the zest
1/4 cup cold butter, diced
1/2 cup heavy cream or buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, whisked, separated into two equal portions
– Place all the dry ingredients including the lime zest into the bowl of your stand mixer, paddle until well mixed.
– Add the cold diced butter to the bowl and paddle on low speed until the pieces are all small, at least as small as peas.
– Make sure your egg is whisked and separated out into two equal portions. Reserve one half to use as egg wash for baking the scones. Add the other half to the milk with the vanilla, and add this to the mixer bowl.
– Return mixer to low speed and paddle just momentarily until the mixture forms a shaggy dough. You do not want a smooth paste, do not overmix.
– Dump the mixture out onto a work surface and carefully knead by hand to finish bringing the dough together. You are looking for a flaky fragile mixture, not a smooth or elastic feeling dough.
– Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 mins. Preheat your oven to 450F in the meantime.
– Remove the dough from the fridge once chilled, and roll out into a disc with the approximate thickness of one inch or a little thicker.
– Cut like a pizza into 8 portions, brush with heavy cream or egg wash, separate on a prepared baking sheet (at least one inch in between scones), sprinkle with additional sugar, and place in the oven.
– Once the scones are in the oven reduce the heat down to between 400-420F and set a timer for 10 to 12 minutes. Rotate your baking sheet after the first timer, and set for another 5 to 10 or until the edges and bottoms of the scones have golden color.
– Cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes, and enjoy with butter and your favorite jam!