When it comes to scones, I am very picky. I think anyone who loves scones, and who has had an actual good one is too. Once you have had a good one, nothing else compares or will do. Spoiler alert, the ones at Starbucks.. not good. I’m sorry Starbucks, some of your treats are just fine but not the scones. So, I spent A LOT of time working on and tweaking this recipe. Changing the amount of butter or flour or cream, sometimes by a little, sometimes by a lot. Trying to see what created the best texture, rise, and flavor.
What is a Scone?
The definition is going to vary depending on where you have had one but for Americans (which I am), it’s sort of like a sweet biscuit. Not the doughy/flaky pull apart layers type but the buttermilk drop biscuit style.
To me, a good scone isn’t overly sweet, or overly dry. It’s kind of the texture of if a muffin and a biscuit had a baby. Buttery, a little flaky and crumbly, a little bit sweet. It’s not too sweet, you want to be able to taste the buttery component but without sugar it more or less becomes a biscuit.
There are a lot of variations on how to make them: butter only, cream only, milk instead of cream, etc. Mine uses both cream and butter, as well as an egg to help prevent it from being too crumbly.
Now, while these are delicious on their own, I fully recommend topping them with jam, or curd, or a glaze. I’ll be sharing more scone recipes in the future with fillings or toppings or flavors so if you aren’t sure what to try, check back. But these vanilla cream scones are kind of your basic starting point and honestly they are the best.
I currently don’t have any process photos of making these (one thing with making scones is you want to work quickly to keep ingredients cold) but I am going to be adding photos in the future. So if they are helpful to you when baking along, check back soon.
Scones Zone – Tips for Success
- Cold. Cold. Cold.
Keep everything as cold as possible. I often measure my cream, and put it back in the fridge. Beat the egg, back in the fridge. It allows me to work quickly and keep everything chilled.
- Use a grater
You can use a pastry cutter or knives to cut in your butter, but for me a coarse cheese grater works best. You get flattened small pieces of butter throughout your dough. Plus, when you freeze the butter it is easier to grate.
- Use the good stuff.
If you can find local heavy cream, it probably tastes better than mass produced. Use that. Use the good butter with higher milk fat content. These small things produce just much better tasting scones.
- Butter – Butter is one of the key flavors so, if you can afford the boujee butter, get it. I like to buy higher butterfat but just a good brand like Tillamook is also great.
- Heavy Cream – As I said before, and the same with the butter. The good stuff. Better cream = better scones.
- Turbinado/Demerara sugar – I love the slight amount of sweetness and crunch that this adds to the top of the scones.
- 300 g AP Flour
- ½ tsp Baking soda
- 2 tsp Baking powder
- 1 large Egg cold
- ⅔ cup Heavy cream cold, plus a few extra tbsp
- ½ cup Unsalted butter cold
- 50 g Granulated sugar ¼ cup
- ½ tsp Salt not kosher
- 1 ½ tsp Vanilla extract
- Demerara or turbinado sugar for sprinkling
- Place butter in freezer for about 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 425°F, and line baking sheet with parchment. Mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl.
- Use a cheese grater to grate the semi frozen butter into flour. After you have grated about half the stick, use a fork to fluff the pieces of butter into the flour mixture, coating them with flour. Finish grating butter and repeat.
- Beat/whisk cold egg in a small bowl or cup, add vanilla to beaten egg.
- Create a well in the center of the flour and butter mixture, and pour egg mixture plus ⅔ cup cold heavy cream into the well. Use a fork to begin to incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet. Use the fork until dough has mostly come together. There might be some dry bits at the bottom, this is okay. Either use your hands, or a bowl scraper to bring the dough more together, folding it over on itself a few times and incorporating the dry bits of flour into the folds.
- Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and pat out into a circle or square, dough being roughly 1 inch thick. It’s fine if the dough is thicker, erring on the side of too thick vs too thin is better. Lightly flour a knife or bench scraper. Cut the dough into equal quarters, and then half each quarter. When cutting, cut straight down then pull straight back up, do not drag cutting utensil through the dough.
- Transfer dough to parchment or silpat lined baking sheet, placing scones about 1 inch apart. Placing them close together allows them to get a little more rise. You can place them closer, however they may bake into each other. If you are working in a particularly warm kitchen, (or even if you aren't), place the scones in the freezer for about 10-20 minutes before baking. You want the butter in the scones to be cold when placed in the oven so that they create steam and give your scones rise instead of spreading out.
- Just before baking, brush the top of each scone with heavy cream, and sprinkle with demerara sugar. Place in the oven, reduce the temp to 375°F and bake for about 25 minutes, or until the tops are lightly golden brown.
- Scones are best eaten the first day, when warm. To reheat, place scone inside aluminum foil and reheat in oven, air fryer or toaster oven at 350 for about 6-8 minutes.
- If you don’t have or are leaving off the demerara/turbinado sugar, I would probably up the sugar in the dough from 1/4 to 1/3 cup, to add a tiny bit more sweetness that you get from the sugar top.
- The amount of cream in the recipe can vary depending on how dry your environment is. I usually start with 2/3 cup and add 1-2 extra tbsp if the dough needs it that day. You don’t want the dough to be wet, but you also don’t want it falling apart before baking.
- To prepare ahead of time, freeze scones the night before. Put in a freezer bag after the scones have frozen (maybe an hour or so). When you are ready to bake them, take them out of the freezer while your oven preheats. Brush the cream and sprinkle sugar on top before baking, not before freezing. Frozen scones may take slightly longer to bake, and the bottoms will brown more.