Aw, there’s nothing quite as special as a good British Scones recipe. It’s a love affair that came from my very first time visiting my brother in England. We had gone to Wisley Gardens for high tea. There we were served a traditional “cream tea” which consisted of scones, clotted cream, jam and, of course, a strong English tea. That set in motion the desire to make these memorable English scones. Many years later, with many scone recipes under my belt, I happened to luck upon a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen – The Essential Recipes Magazine that made me recall that first experience.
Someone asked what’s the difference between American scones and British scones. American scones are flaky, sweeter, and more biscuit-like. British scones have a light crust on the outside with a cake like inside and are far less sweet than other types of scones. In my journey to find the best scones, I have come to appreciate each variety for its flavor and texture.
Enough talk; let’s make this British Scones recipe.
British Scones Recipe
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup butter
- ¾ cup of dried fruits or nuts (currants, chopped raisins, ginger, toasted nuts, chopped mixed dried fruit or a combination of your choice)
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 large eggs beaten
Pulse the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor until combined, about 5 pulses. Now add the soften butter and pulse about 20 to 25 pulses until the butter is fully incorporated and mixture looks like fine crumbs with no visible bits of butter. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the dried fruit or nuts of choice until evenly distributed.
In a second bowl, whisk the milk and eggs together until combined. Set aside 1½ tablespoons of the milk mixture. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour the remaining into the well of the flour mixture. Using a rubber spatula, fold all the ingredients together until almost no signs of dry flour remain.
Transfer the ragged dough to a well-floured counter and gather it into a ball. Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough about 25 to 30 times until a smooth ball is formed. Gently press down on the ball to form a disk.
Using a flour-dusted rolling pin, roll the dough out to about 1-inch thickness. Using a flour dusted 2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out as many rounds as possible, re-dusting the cutter with flour each time. Arrange the scones on the prepared baking sheet. Gather the dough scraps and knead into a smooth ball repeating the process until all the dough is used up. Discard any remaining dough bits of scraps.
Brush the tops of the scones with the reserved egg/milk mixture. Place the loaded baking sheet in the oven and reduce the temperature to 425° F. Bake the scones until they’ve risen and are golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. It’s a good idea to rotate the sheet pan halfway through baking. When done, transfer the scones to a cooling rack and allow them to cool for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Serve the scones warm or at room temperature.
Notes: To achieve the very best results use the freshest ingredients possible. Don’t worry about kneading the dough too much; it’s very forgiving. I’ve used all manner of dried fruits and nuts or a combination, all with great success. Still, currant scones are as traditional as you can get. The raw dough is quite wet and sticky so liberally dust your hands and counter with flour. Always use the sharpest biscuit cutter you can to achieve an excellent, even, tall rise. Make sure to push straight down on the dough with the cutter avoiding the urge to twist it a bit. That action will seal the sides of the dough not giving it a chance to achieve a good rise.
Make Ahead Method: These scones are best served when fresh out of the oven. However, there are ways to shortcut the process when time is limited.
- Already baked or leftover scones may be frozen and reheated straight from the freezer in a 300°F oven for 15 minutes before serving.
- Prepare the dough until you’ve achieved a smooth ball of dough. Tightly wrap the ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The next morning, unwrap the dough and place on a floured counter. Allow it to warm up for 10 minutes or so. Proceed rolling out and cutting the dough as directed above.
I do enjoy making this British Scones recipe. Serving these homemade scones with homemade jams, preserves, and fruit curds along with Devonshire or clotted cream is the best. When no one is around, I’ll eat them with just plain with butter – yum.
P.S. Take a moment to check out and purchase some of the tools I used for this “British Scones Recipe” below. 🙂