Updated: May 27, 2021
There’s nothing better than a hot scone with butter for a late weekend brunch. Served historically with clotted cream, but they may be served alone, or with butter and/or jam of choice. Savor one with a cup of tea or coffee and you will fall in love with this gem from the British Isles.
The first recorded mention of scones was in the translation of The Aenaid (1513) by a Scottish poet, Gavin Douglas. I consider scones a cousin to the Southern American biscuit. In biscuits, the butter is substituted with lard or shortening, and the sugar is omitted. Traditionally, they are made with buttermilk. Sometimes scones may have raisins, currants, cheese, or dates in them. In the United States, however, scones have evolved to sometimes contain fillings like cranberries, chocolate chips, or nuts.
The recipe below is for orange-cranberry scones. When I make the buttermilk version, I form the dough into a disc about 3/4 inch thick and about 10 inches diameter, then cut it into eight pie-shaped wedges. When placed on the parchment paper for baking, I brush them with buttermilk.
Using the same recipe, you may substitute lemon zest for the orange zest and fresh blueberries for the dried cranberries. Additionally, the heavy cream may be substituted with full-fat buttermilk. If your family loves a sweeter treat, you may make a thick glaze of confectioner’s sugar, juice of the citrus used, and zest. Drizzle over cooled scones and serve when the glaze is set.
Hint: Always make sure your baking powder and soda are fresh for best results. Enjoy!
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
3 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup dried cranberries
zest of 1 orange
5 Tbsp cold, unsalted butter
1 cup cold heavy, whipping cream
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, measure flour, baking powder, sugar, orange zest and salt. Whisk dry ingredients together, watching for clumps of orange zest. Break those up for even distribution. (I find rolling the clumps between my thumb and index finger in the flour mixture works well.)
3. Cut the cold, cubed butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender. Work in until the mixture looks like coarse bread crumbs. You may also incorporate it using your fingers by rubbing the butter bits between your thumb, index, and middle finger to break up the butter.
4. Add the diced cranberries.
5. Stir in the cream until the dough comes together. Do not overwork the dough. This creates gluten, which will make the dough tough.
6. Transfer the dough onto a work surface lightly floured and knead a few times (less than ten) to form a nice ball of dough.
7. Roll dough until about 1-inch thick. Cut with biscuit cutter or the top of a glass dipped into flour. You should reform the remaining dough and cut more, trying not to overwork the dough, but still utilize as much of the dough as possible. Young children love to get a "baby biscuit" formed from the last small amount of dough.
8. Place the cut pieces, about 1 ½ inches apart on a baking sheet.
9. Bake in preheated oven on middle rack for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
10. Serve immediately with desired butter, clotted cream, or jams as desired.
11. They keep well in a clean, dry container after cooled to room temperature for several days.