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All About Scones

Are you looking for the perfect addition to your afternoon tea? Look no further than the scone, a descendant of the Scottish bannock pastry found in the United Kingdom for hundreds of years. 

Scones are the most iconic food pairing served with tea. Even though they’re a great addition to your breakfast table, these buttery snacks are traditionally served at four in the afternoon as a part of high tea. Like American biscuits, scones can be easily made at home with basic ingredients. 

You might imagine scones as a food that is only served with jam and clotted cream, but there are many variations on this classic tea cake. Read on to learn all about scones and different ways you can serve them at your next tea session. 

What Is a Scone?

Scones are flaky, tender pastries made of egg, butter, flour, and milk. Scones can be served either savory or sweet and come topped with various toppings that include cheese, nuts, frosting, and fruit preserves. 

Are Scones Scottish or English?

Even though scones are popular across the United Kingdom, these fluffy breakfast pastries originated in Scotland in the 14th century. The first in-print reference to scones in medieval literature was made by a Scottish poet in 1513.

scones and clotted cream
Fresh-baked scones clotted cream and jam are a favorite.

Are Scones and Biscuits the Same?

Scones and biscuits are similar in texture and flavor, but there is one major difference between the two pastries: scones have eggs, and biscuits typically don’t. This makes scones slightly denser and richer in flavor than biscuits, especially if high-quality eggs are used.

What Are Scones Called in England? 

In England, scones are called scones just like in Scotland. These pastries are showcased in the famous Cornish and Devon “cream teas” that are held in western and central England. 

A cream tea is a specialized form of afternoon tea that features tea along with scones, clotted cream, and butter. It is especially associated with the western region of Cornwall.

Types of Scones

There are many different sweet scone recipes that include different add-ins such as chocolate chips, berries, and pumpkin puree. This flaky treat can also come in a savory scone version with add-ins like cheese and chopped bacon or pancetta. 

scones drizzled with sugar
Orange Cranberry Scone with fresh fruit.

Popular Scone Toppings

Plain scones are the type of scone that are most often served at afternoon tea since they are topped with condiments such as the following: 

  • Butter: The butter used to eat with scones can be sweetened with honey for sweet scones or whipped with chopped herbs and grated parmesan cheese for a savory version.
  • Clotted cream: Clotted cream is a thick, yellow custard made from cream that is a common topping on British pastries. Clotted cream is closer in consistency to butter than whipped cream.
  • Fruit preserves and jams: Fruit preserves come in a wide array of flavors that can complement scones whether they’re sweet or savory.
  • Powdered sugar: Powdered sugar is one of the easiest toppings to add to fresh scones. Sift the powdered sugar over the top of the scones while they’re still warm so that the heat will help the sugar stick to the surface of the pastry.
  • Lemon curd and marmalades: Curd and marmalade are similar to jams and jellies, but they’re made with citrus such as oranges, lemons, and grapefruit. The tangy flavor of lemon curd and marmalade can help combat the sweetness of scones.
  • Plain honey: Honey is a light topping for scones that adds plenty of additional sweetness without adding a bunch of extra processed sugar. Manuka honey can provide flavor as well as health benefits. 
  • Nutella: Nutella is a condiment spread made of ground hazelnuts and chocolate. It’s an especially good topping for chocolate or chocolate chip scones. 
  • Icings and glazes: Simple icings can be made by combining milk, powdered sugar, and a little bit of butter. 
tips for making good scones
Using very cold ingredients will make the flakiest scones.

Tips for Making Good Scones

If you’re planning on making scones, there are a few tips and tricks you can keep in mind that will help you bake better results. 

  • Keep things cold. Using cold butter or even frozen butter can help your scones rise more effectively and will lead to a fluffier pastry. Chilling your formed scones in the refrigerator before baking will also lead to a more tender texture.
  • Don’t overmix. When making scone dough, you want to mix the ingredients until the dough is just combined. Overmixing can lead to a dense, heavy mouthfeel.
  • Stick with pastry flour. Pastry flour can give you better scone results than using basic all-purpose flour.
  • Don’t overbake. Scones will get brittle and dry if you bake them too long, so be sure to set an alarm on your oven so you don’t forget about them. 

Scones only last for one or two days before becoming stale, so it’s a good idea to master a basic recipe for them. That way, you’ll always have freshly-baked scones ready to go at tea time.

Scones Are A Delicious Companion for Tea

If you need a snack to go with your tea in the morning or afternoon, scones are a classic tea-time treat that make a great pairing for all kinds of different tea blends. Whether you want a savory cheese scone to cut the sweetness of a mint tea or some sweet scones to go with your Earl Grey, you’re sure to find a combination of flavors that works well. 

all about scones graphic
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