Scones are the absolute best seller at the coffee shop. We’ve rolled out muffins, cookies, even mousse cakes and croissants… but the scone rules all. And why not? When made correctly, scones are tender, not-too-sweet, filling little pastries that pair better with tea or coffee than just about anything else. The flavor possibilities are practically endless, too, which makes it fun to whip up a large batch and make lots of variations from the same ball of dough.
It’s quite a shame that good scones are sometimes hard to find. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve encountered scones that are hard and dry… and both of these issues can be avoided simply by not overworking the dough. There really isn’t any reason to settle for a bad scone, so try the below recipe and see what you think!
250g (3/4 cup) cold butter, cubed
430g (scant 3 3/4 cup) flour, all purpose
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
90g (scant 1/2 cup) white sugar
1 large pinch salt
250ml (1 cup + 2 tsp) milk (any fat content is fine, but I prefer reduced fat milk)
1. Preheat your oven to 218°C (425°F). In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter with your hands until you have fine granules.
2. Pour the milk over the butter/flour mixture and stir it together with a fork very delicately until it just barely hangs together. You do not want a smooth dough; the one thing that will ruin a scone is overworking the dough.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a rough circle. Split the dough into 16 even pieces.
4. On a large cookie tray lined with parchment or a silicone mat, begin forming the scones. Use a cookie cutter or round mold (anything from 3″ to 4″ diameter is fine). Being very careful not to overwork the dough, pinch off about 1/3 of one of the 16ths of dough and pat it into the bottom. Layer on your fruits and then top it with the other 2/3 of the dough. Pat it down, but again be careful to work the dough as little as possible. Top with whatever garnish you’ll be using and bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
Now that you’ve got the basic recipe, it’s time for the fun part… customization!
TIPS FOR FILLINGS
- Be sure not to fill too much fruit between the dough layers, or the scones will get soggy.
- If the finished scones won’t be getting any glaze or if the fruits you are using are tart like strawberries or apples, sprinkle some vanilla (or plain) sugar over the tops before baking. It creates a lovely sweet crust that contrasts the inside texture perfectly.
- Do keep storage in mind; scones with fresh fruit in or on them will need to be refrigerated. Once you’re ready to serve them, just pop each scone in the microwave for 10-20 seconds just to take the chill off and soften the scone.
I made 9 types today. I’ll outline not only those, but suggest some further flavor combinations!
Orange: Zest and juice an orange. Reserve a bit of the zest for garnish. Mix the juice with the rest of the zest and add powdered sugar until the glaze comes together. Bake the scone dough plain and glaze while still warm. (If you are doing a whole batch of orange, mix the zest into the dough. If you’re doing a mix, you risk overmixing it by doing this.) 1 orange will make enough glaze for about 6 scones.
Lemon: Zest and juice a lemon. Reserve a bit of the zest for garnish. Mix the juice with the rest of the zest and add powdered sugar until the glaze comes together. Bake the scone dough plain and glaze while still warm. (If you are doing a whole batch of lemon, mix the zest into the dough. If you’re doing a mix, you risk overmixing it by doing this.) 1 lemon will make enough glaze for about 4 scones.
Lemon Poppy Seed: Just like lemon scone above, but add poppy seeds to the glaze. If you are making an entire batch of lemon poppy seed muffins, add the poppy seeds and lemon zest to the dough in addition to covering them with glaze once they are done.
Snickerdoodle: Sprinkle the tops liberally with cinnamon sugar before baking.
Cinnamon Apple: Line the tops with thinly sliced apples and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar before baking.
Peach: Fill and top with fresh peach slices. Sprinkle on some plain sugar before baking.
Strawberry: Slice your berries, then toss them with some sugar and let them sit for 30 minutes to draw out the juices. Drain the berries of juice and spread them on a layer of paper towels. Top with another layer of paper towels and press dry. (This is also a method you should use for any other especially juicy fruits.) Fill and top the scones with strawberries and sprinkle with plain sugar before baking.
Almond Apricot: Fill and top the scones with sliced apricots. Sprinkle almonds over the top before baking. Once cooled, dust liberally with powdered sugar.
Blueberry Streusel: Fill the dough with fresh blueberries and sprinkle with a healthy dose of your favorite streusel before baking. Here’s my favorite streusel recipe and the instructions for making it. You will only need about 1/4 of this batch to make a whole batch of blueberry streusel scones.
Double Chocolate Chip: Fill the scones with white and dark chocolate chips. Drizzle in melted chocolate.
Chocolate Covered Strawberry: Make strawberry scones as outlined above, drizzle liberally with melted chocolate once cooled.
Cranberry Walnut: Add dried cranberries and nuts to the dough.
Apple Crisp: Make apple scones as outlined above, but sandwich the apples between the dough layers and top with streusel.
White Chocolate Macadamia Nut: Add white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts to the dough.
…And so on!