The Essential Scone Recipe

I’ve tried plenty of scone recipes, but I find that this one is the best. It always works, has the fewest ingredients and is quick to make (I mean, in 30 minutes you can have homemade scones!). The recipe is from a cookbook I received as a gift when I was a teenager, Baking Illustrated. It’s actually written by a team of recipe testers, America’s Test Kitchen, who switch the ingredients and methods of preparation and then taste-test the results to come up with fool-proof recipes. They really nailed it with these scones! See notes below for a vegan version of the recipe.

Cream Scones

Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen Baking Illustrated Cookbook.

Makes 8 scones.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons (40 grams) sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) salt
  • 5 tablespoons (70 grams) cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup (235 ml) cream

Steps

  1. Heat oven to 425°F (220°C).
  2. Place flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl and whisk together.
  3. Drop the butter cubes into the flour mixture. Using a fork and a knife, quickly cut the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture starts to come together but still looks lumpy. There should be a few slightly larger butter lumps in the mixture.
  4. Carefully stir in cream until the dough begins to form, about 30 seconds.
  5. Transfer the dough and any dry, floury bits to a countertop and knead the dough by hand just until it comes together into a rough ball, about 5 to 10 seconds.
  6. Press or roll the dough out into an 8-inch (20 cm) circle. Use a large, sharp knife to cut the dough into 8 wedges (like you’re cutting pizza slices). Sometimes it helps to dip the knife into flour before each cut.
  7. Place the wedges on a baking sheet with parchment paper on it and bake until scone tops are starting to look toasty. About 15 minutes.
  8. Serve warm or at room temperature with butter, jam and tea or coffee.

NOTES:

  • Make sure the butter and cream are cold when you make these. This helps make sure that there will be lumps of butter in the dough, which guarantee that fall-apart and melt-in-your-mouth texture we all love about scones!
  • Don’t overmix at any step in the process. In step 2 if you overmix until the dough looks like sand, your scones will bake up dense and hard. Likewise, if you overmix at step 4.
  • You can add up to ½ cup of dried berries or fresh currants before adding the cream as I have done in the photo above.
  • For a vegan version: replace the butter with the same amount of coconut oil or vegan butter (make sure they are cold) and replace the cream with oat or soy cream, but only add 3/4 cup of vegan cream rather than 1 cup.

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