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Classic English Scones



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“Afternoon tea is probably the simplest fashion in which to exercise
hospitality. Pretty cups and saucers are among the possessions of
which the young housekeeper has a generous store and they will
make an attractive array on the afternoon tea table.”

~ Catherine Terhune Herrick

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Afternoon Tea at the Butchart Gardens, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
Afternoon Tea at the Butchart Gardens, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
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Ricca, Connie
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La Belle Cuisine



Classic English Scones -
Crisp Outside, Flaky Inside

by Jacquie Lee
Fine Cooking Oct/Nov 1995

“My mother was half Chinese and my father was English, so naturally teatime
was important in my parents' home.  Tea-drinking in our family, however, was nothing compared with the tea rituals I experienced while visiting my grand-mother in England.  She would sit, rather regally, taking individual orders
for tea, a silver pot of extra-hot water standing ready.  But more important
to me, she served scones.
My passion for this crisp-tender teacake began at my grandmother's table but
was fueled by my later travels around England.  From Salmon Leap in Devon,
where I devoured marvelous round scones with strawberry jam and clotted
cream, to ultra-upscale Harrod's in London, where the scones are served with
a side order of pomp and ceremony, I tasted enough scones to develop my own
idea of the perfect scone.

Judging a Proper Scone
For me, a scone should be crispy outside and flaky inside; it should not have
a cakey texture.  Also, I prefer scones cut into triangles, probably because
they're less likely to be confused with American-style biscuits.

This Quick Dough Has Three Basic Parts:
Flour, Butter and a Buttermilk Binder

Scones are made from a few simple, basic ingredients, but it's the way those ingredients are worked together that makes the difference between an ordinary scone and one that's exceptional.  The key to flaky scones is to mix the dough
as little as possible, keeping the butter in large chunks.

Almost Any Flour Will Do
The basic scone recipe requires no special flours.  I've eaten wonderful scones
made with all-purpose flout.  But because baking is my business, I prefer to use
a blend of organic, unbleached bread and pastry flours.  In particular, I like to bake with Giustos flours (available from Bob's Red Mill, 503 654 3215), a brand
of organic flours that I believe makes the lightest and flakiest scones.  Blending bread flour and pastry flour helps me further fine tune the dough's strength and tenderness. It can be fun to try several different kinds of bread and pastry flour
and see the characteristics each contributes.

For the Best Flavor, Nothing Beats Unsalted Butter
I've tried many scone recipes that use vegetable shortening or lard, but I always come back to unsalted butter.  The butter's flavor is an important part of the scone's rich taste.  It's also the ingredient responsible for the scone's crisp, flaky texture.  Chilling the butter - and keeping it chilled - is a critical step towards a great scone: you want it to remain in fairly large pieces and not get squashed
into the flour as you mix.  When the scones are thrust into a very hot oven, the butter will melt and bubble its way through the dough, leaving lots of little
crevices in its wake.

Buttermilk Holds It All Together
I make my scones with buttermilk because I like the tangy taste; besides, with all the butter in the scones, the fat in ordinary milk isn't needed.  What is important
is that you don't overmix the dough when you add the buttermilk.  This can be a hard call if you've never made scones before.  The difference in flours and
climates and how the liquid is absorbed by the dry ingredients can make the
critical moment difficult to judge.  Just remember that when you add the liquid,
you should mix just until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the
bowl.  If not all of the flour is getting moist, add a little more liquid.

A Crust of Coarse Sugar
I paint the tops of the scones with a little more buttermilk before giving them
a sprinkle of turbinado sugar.  The large, unrefined grains of this sugar give
the scones a really crisp top.  You can find turbinado sugar at many natural-
and specialty-food stores.  Substitute ordinary sugar for the turbinado if you
like; the tops just won't be as crunchy.

 Currants, Cranberries, Cherries and Other Accent Flavors
Currants are a traditional favorite, but there are endless variations on the
basic scone. You can add dried cranberries or dried cherries - simply add
a half cup or so to the recipe. Grated citrus zest (particularly orange) lends
a wonderful fragrance.  Bittersweet chocolate bits make a delicious - if
un-traditional - scone.  Or, for an even racier scone, try a combination of
orange zest and chocolate. Add dried fruit and flavorings after the butter
and before the liquid.  Fresh blueberries are also delicious in scones, but
because fresh fruits are moist and tend to clump together in the dough,
dust them with a little flour before mixing them into the dough. As with
the dried fruit, add the blueberries after  the butter and before the butter-
milk. You can use frozen blueberries; just don't defrost them or they'll
become mushy and you'll have purple scones.

Freeze Leftover Scones
If you have any leftover scones, freeze them. Thaw them completely and
reheat at 350 degrees F for about seven minutes. Served with a bit of tea
to get the day started or as an afternoon respite, however, your freshly baked
scones probably won't be around long enough to have any leftovers.”

Orange-Scented English Scones

Add  1/2 cup dried currants, dried cranberries, dried cherries, bits
of chocolate, or fresh blueberries to create a variety of scones.

Yields 8 medium scones.

8 ounces (1 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour or
1 cup organic bread flour + 3/4 cup
organic pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Grated zest of 1 medium orange
4 ounces (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted
butter, cut into cubes
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt
and sugar in an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix in the orange zest.  Add the butter and mix until just coated with flour. The
butter chunks should remain fairly large - no less than half their original
size. With the mixer set on a slow speed, add 2/3 cup of the buttermilk
and mix until just absorbed.  Stop mixing when the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
Scrape the dough from the bowl and shape it into a ball. With well-
floured fingers, pat the dough into a 7-inch diameter disk. Cut the disk
into quarters and then again into eighths. Set the scones on a baking
sheet lined with kitchen parchment and brush the tops with the remain-
ing buttermilk.  Sprinkle with turbinado sugar and bake until well
browned, about 15 to 20 minutes.


1. Large chunks of butter in the dough make the flakiest scone. Chill
your butter ahead of time and work quickly to keep the chunks from
being totally incorporated into the dough.
2. Don't overmix the dough or your scones will be tough. Stop the paddle
when the dough just begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
3. Use lightly floured fingers to gently pat the dough into a disk. Don't
worry if the dough doesn't look smooth - a rough, lumpy dough means
tender, flaky scones.
4. Cut the disk into quarters and then again into eighths. Triangles are
the traditional shape for scones, but you can shape the dough any way
you please.



Mock Devonshire Cream
Courtesy What's Cooking in America

"Originally from Devonshire County, England, it [Devonshire cream] is a
thick, buttery cream often used as a topping for desserts. It is still a specialty
of Devon, Cornwall, and Somerset, as this is where the right breed of cattle
are raised with a high enough cream content to produce clotted cream. It
is also known as Devon cream and clotted cream. Clotted cream has a con-
sistency similar to soft butter.
Before the days of pasteurization, the milk from the cows was left to stand
for several hours so that the cream would rise to the top. Then this cream
was skimmed and put into big pans. The pans were then floated in trays of
constantly boiling water in a process known as scalding. The cream would
then become much thicker and develop a golden crust which is similar
to butter."

Yields: 3 cups or 12 servings

3 ounces cream cheese,
room temperature
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup heavy whipping cream

In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, and salt; stir until
well blended.
Stir in whipping cream.
With an electric mixer, beat mixture until stiff. Store in refrigerator.
Make approximately 3 cups or enough to serve 12.

A possible alternative to Devonshire Cream
is homemade Crème Fraîche.

Or you may choose to purchase Devon Clotted Cream.

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