Perfect Scones Every Time and a Scone-Making Tutorial
Today I am excited to share one of my all-time favorite baking recipes.
I have made these scones countless times; I keep a fresh batch on a covered cake stand in the kitchen ’round the clock. They are perfect for breakfast, packed with lunch, aside a cup of tea or coffee in the afternoon, as dessert, or as a late-night snack.
There are as many recipes out there for scones as there are for cakes or cookies. But as soon as I tried this recipe for the first time, I tossed all of my other basic scone recipes. These are “the ones.”
The first few times I made these, I did so in a food processor and with no embellishments. And they were easy, quick, and perfect eaten plain. Since then, I’ve done them by hand (less dishes to clean), with half and half instead of heavy cream, with fresh fruit, dried fruit, grated lemon zest, scraped vanilla beans, and chocolate chips. No matter what, the scones are delectable and hit the spot every single time.
This recipe is originally from The America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook; I found it by way of Smitten Kitchen. Thank you, Deb, for publishing the recipe. It has put an end to years of disappointing scone baking!
So, if you’re craving an awesome treat that’s perfect for any time of day, give these a try. And add in whatever you’d like to make them your own.
I’ve included a tutorial on scone-making below, as well as some tips for using mix-ins. The “sprinkle, press, and fold” method is particularly handy when adding in fresh fruit; it prevents your fruit from getting mashed into your dough and causing discoloration (such as with blueberry or raspberry scones). If you are using dried fruit or chocolate chips, feel free to follow the original instructions.
THE CARBOHOLIC’S SCONE TUTORIAL:
(recipe at the bottom)
Let’s get started!
*The following tutorial is all done by hand. If you are using a food processor (which is perfectly fine!), you will do steps #1 through 3 in the machine, then join us back at step #4 to finish by hand. I’ve written food processor (labeled FP) instructions below each step*
1) Mix your flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl:
(FP: Add flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt to bowl of food processor and pulse a few times to mix)
2) Now add your COLD butter, cut into 1/4″ cubes:
3) Using a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingers (if you can move quickly!), cut butter into the flour until it’s mostly distributed. You should have pea-sized chunks of butter remaining. Keep your butter cold. If you are like me and have persistently freezing fingers, you may be able to do this by hand by loosely rubbing the butter into the flour. But it is best to do this with a pastry blender:
(FP: Pulse the mixture for 1 second, about 12 times. You want larger chunks of butter to remain)
4) Pour in your heavy cream (I used half and half in the photos):
(FP: Transfer mixture to a medium bowl, and add heavy cream)
5) Stir gently until a dough forms. Do not overmix, or your scones will turn out heavy and dry. You want to still see chunks of butter in the mix, and do not worry about getting every speck of flour incorporated. The less mixing, the better:
6) Flour a work surface (I always put down parchment paper for easy clean up and less sticking), and dump your dough into the center. Today, I’m going to make 2 different flavors of scones, so I separated the dough into 2 pieces. If you are doing all one flavor, leave it all in one clump:
**If you are using add-ins, flatten your dough to roughly 1/2″ and sprinkle evenly across the surface. This is the best way to incorporate fresh fruit like blueberries. Mixing them in with the dough in the beginning can cause them to burst, which will turn your dough odd colors. After you sprinkle add-ins onto your dough, press them in lightly**
If you are not using add-ins, skip this step and flatten your dough to roughly 3/4″ to 1″ thick.
8) To incorporate your add-ins, gently fold your dough in half lengthwise, and press the edges together lightly to seal them in:
9) Using a biscuit cutter, cut out scones:
**Alternatively, you can slice into triangles**
10) Dust off any excess flour on the bottoms, then transfer your cut-out scones to a baking sheet lined with parchment:
11) Once all of your scones are cut out and your oven is preheated to 425 F, you can brush them with some cream and sprinkle with coarse sugar, if desired. This is not necessary, but a brush of cream will help make perfect-looking scone tops:
12) Now pop ’em in the oven and set a timer for 5 or 6 minutes, then rotate your baking sheet and set them back in the oven for another 5-6 minutes. Keep an eye on them toward the end of baking–scones should be set and just lightly golden around the edges and on the bottoms. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly:
13) Now, marvel at their beauty and EAT!!!
Dreamy Cream Scones
Note: I typically make 1/2 a recipe, which yields about 12 scones. The tutorial above is done with a 1/2 batch. I also often use half and half since I always have it on hand, and don’t notice much of a difference with the lighter fat content.
- 2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, preferably a low-protein brand such as Gold Medal or Pillsbury
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- 1/2 cup add-ins, optional (fresh or dried fruit, baking chips, etc.)
- 1 cup heavy cream
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425°F.
2. Place flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in large bowl or work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. Whisk together or pulse six times.
3. If making by hand, use two knives, a pastry blender or your fingertips and quickly cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few slightly larger butter lumps. Stir in currants. If using food processor, remove cover and distribute butter evenly over dry ingredients. Cover and pulse 12 times, each pulse lasting 1 second. Add currants and pulse one more time. Transfer dough to large bowl.
4. Stir in heavy cream with a rubber spatula or fork until dough begins to form, about 30 seconds.
5. Transfer dough and all dry, floury bits to countertop and knead dough by hand just until it comes together into a rough, sticky ball, 5 to 10 seconds. Form scones by either a) pressing the dough into an 8-inch cake pan, then turning the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, cutting the dough into 8 wedges with either a knife or bench scraper (the book’s suggestion) or b) patting the dough onto a lightly floured work surface into a 3/4-inch thick circle, cutting pieces with a biscuit cutter, and pressing remaining scraps back into another piece (what I did) and cutting until dough has been used up. (Be warned if you use this latter method, the scones that are made from the remaining scraps will be much lumpier and less pretty, but taste fine. As in, I understand why they suggested the first method.)
6. Place rounds or wedges on ungreased baking sheet and bake until scone tops are light brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.