I absolutely love eating scones. I have eaten some bad scones from reputable places and tasted really good ones that I could not stop eating. As much as I love scones, I don’t eat them very often. I think scones should be eaten leisurely, pair with good teas, mood set right and soft jazz humming in the background on lazy afternoons. Tea rooms can provide for such experience. But what do we do now when these establishments cannot operate and we have plenty of lazy afternoons to kill. As with everything right now, we just do what we can at home it seems. Afternoon tea and scones at home? I can do that.
Allow me to tell you something about homemade scones, knead gently by hand in an unhurried manner. This whole scone making process, in my opinion has the ability to release a powerful therapeutic effect that quietly comforts the soul. At least for me it did. You may also possibly discover that the best scone you can ever have are the ones made by you.
Scones sometimes gets a bad rap as being stiff and dry, I feel the need to change that perception. This recipe that I’m sharing which has based on a classic English scone formula should turn out light and fluffy, rise tall and never dense nor stiff if you do it right.
“Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” Henry James
A few key things to note.
EVERYTHING HAS TO BE COLD.
If possible, prepare in an air-conditioned environment.
Soft freeze small cubes of butter. Preferably European butter with a minimum of 82% fat.
I realised a lot of English scone recipes uses self-raising flour. Personally I prefer to use all-purpose flour and add baking powder. For scone to rise tall and nice, you will need the help of slightly more baking powder than usual. So I recommend using double acting baking powder without aluminium added and no bitter taste. I used Bob’s Red Mill.
I also added some crème fraîche. God I love this stuff! This slightly tangy fresh cream adds a nice flavour and a tender crumb to the scones. Skip crème fraîche if you can’t find it and replace with equal amount of milk. I have done that before and the scones were wonderful.
I want to talk a bit about the “wet” ingredients. By “wet” I meant eggs, milk and crème fraîche. For this recipe, you will need a total of 120ml of liquids. So typically 1 large egg should give you approximately 60ml. I only use 45ml of egg and reserve the balance 15ml for egg wash. I then add 1 tablespoon of crème fraîche which is equivalent to 15ml plus 60ml of milk. This way I get a total of 120ml liquids.
45ml egg + 15ml crème fraîche + 60ml milk
Are you still following? LOL.
What I’m trying to say is no matter how much egg, milk, with or without the crème fraîche, you just have to make sure the total liquids has to be 120ml.
No crème fraîche? Then here’s your liquid formula. 45ml egg + 75ml milk = 120ml liquids
Are we good here?
Great! Let’s get on to the recipe.
Baking tray, baking paper, scone ring (2.5 inches)
- 250g all-purpose flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
- 15g (3 tsp) aluminium-free double acting baking powder
- 30g light brown sugar (can replace with white caster sugar)
- 70g unsalted butter, very cold
- 1 cold egg
- 1 tbsp crème fraîche
- 60ml cold milk (read my explanation on “wet” ingredients. Adjust the milk proportion accordingly)
- Extra flour for dusting the scone ring
Alright! Let’s get started!
Preheat the oven to 190C. Place baking paper on baking tray and set aside.
Measure the flour, baking powder and sugar in a mixing bowl and put in the fridge. Cut the butter into small cubes, about 1.5cm and place them in the freezer.
Beat the egg into a measuring cup, lightly whisk to break up the proteins. Set aside 1 tablespoon (15ml) for egg wash. Add crème fraîche and milk into the measuring cup with the egg. You should have a total of 120ml liquids. Whisk briefly to combine. Put in the fridge for now.
Prepare tabletop for kneading. Put some flour into a small bowl for dusting the scone ring. Take out all the ingredients from the fridge and freezer. Mix the flour mixture with a spatula. Place soft-freeze butter cubes into the flour mixture and rub the butter into the flour. Try to only use your fingertips to rub as they are the coldest parts of your hands. You don’t want to warm the ingredients too much. Keep rubbing until the mixture looks like pale yellow bread crumbs.
Create a well in the center of the butter-flour mixture. Add in 1/3 of the egg-milk mixture. Mix gently with the spatula. Add more of the egg-milk mixture in a few additions. Gently mix until all the flour has been coated with the liquids. Scrape out onto the tabletop. Gather everything and form into a dough. Try not to knead the dough too much. Overworked dough will result in less tender scones. Now flatten the dough with your palm and fold the dough into half. Repeat. This method is for creating flaky layers. Form the dough into a square big enough for you to stamp out 4 scones. You will need some height from the dough to achieve tall scones so don’t flatten the dough too much.
Coat the scone ring with flour and stamp right down into the dough without twisting the ring. Twisting the ring will cause the sides the “seal” up and inhibit the rise of the scone. Very important. Place the stamped out scones on the lined baking tray, placing them 2 inches apart. Gather the balance dough and form into a square again and continue stamping out more scones. You should be able to get 6 to 7 tall scones from this recipe. If you have remaining odd dough, just roll it into a ball and bake it.
Coat a brush with the remaining 1 tablespoon of egg and brush only the top part of the scone. Do not brush the sides. Same theory as the stamping. You do not want to “seal” the sides.
Bake the scones for 13 to 15 minutes. Checking at 13 minutes mark and if the top is not browning well, continue to bake for another 1 to 2 minutes until the desired browning achieved. Take note not to over bake the scones.
Scones are best served warm, with clotted cream and jam of course. And not forgetting a pot of good earl grey tea. If you cannot get clotted cream, you can try crème fraîche. Goes quite well with strawberry jam.
You can freeze the leftover scones in a freezer bag for a month. Refresh by taking the frozen scones out to thaw while you heat up the oven to 180C. Once your oven is ready, place the scones in to reheat for 5 to 8 minutes. Should be as good as freshly baked.
If you have made the scones, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram @vanillynbakes #vanillynbakes so I can see and maybe share your lovely creations.
Lastly, I’ve randomly do up a video tutorial for this scone recipe which I will be sharing on my IG Stories and put them on highlights. I hope this can be useful! Happy Sconing!