I love a good Afternoon Tea and having scones as part of the spread is a must. British-style scones have a plain flavour and lighter texture. In contrast, American scones have a wide range of flavors, and are typically sweeter and denser.
5 TIPS FOR GREAT ENGLISH SCONES
Use the best quality ingredients you can get. The recipe itself is quite simple and without the complexity of flavors, the final product relies on 2 things: fresh, tasty ingredients and technique. European butter has a rich, creamy taste that is just perfect. And its higher butterfat content makes for a more tender texture.
Substitute 1/2 cup all-purpose flour for pastry flour. The slightly cakey taste and lower gluten percentage of pastry flour (compared to all-purpose flour) adds a touch of flavor and tenderness to these scones.
Use 2 baking temperatures. Preheat the oven to 450°F/230°C and then reduce it to 400°F/205°C for baking. I find this technique depends on your oven. Ovens that distribute heat evenly and maintain heating temperatures well may not need the high temperature preheat. But if you find your scones are coming out flat, it may be due to the scones being baked at a lower temperature than you are aiming for.
Don't add too much flour to your surface. Find the balance between keeping your dough from sticking to the countertop and rolling pin, and adding too much flour. Putting the dough in the refrigerator for a few minutes before rolling it out can help keep you from needing too much flour. Also, brush excess flour from the dough before making the second roll.
Don't overbake. Even a few extra minutes in the oven past the cooking time can dry out these delicate scones. Once the scones are lightly golden on the top and bottom, remove them from the oven and place them on a baking rack to cool.
Makes 12 x 2 1/2-inch round scones
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup pastry flour (alternately you can use 4 cups of all-purpose flour)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled or room temperature, and cut into small pieces
2/3 cup cold milk (2% milk works fine)
1/2 of a lightly beaten egg. Reserve the other half for the egg wash below.
1/2 egg + 2 tablespoons milk
Preheat the oven to 400°F/205°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Mix together the egg wash ingredients and set aside.
Stir the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder together in a large bowl.
Using a pastry blender and/or your fingers, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Take your time with this. There should be no large clumps of butter when you are finished.
Mix the 2/3 cup of milk with the egg. Pour it over the flour mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture starts coming together. Then gently form the dough into a ball using your hands.
Lightly flour a clean surface and rolling pin. Roll the dough into a 1/2-inch thick disc. If you prefer a taller scone, you can make the disc thicker e.g. 3/4 inch, and adjust the bake time. Using a pastry or biscuit cutter, cut scone rounds and place them on the baking sheet.
Brush the extra flour from the dough and gently roll it into a ball again. Repeat step 5.
Brush the tops of the scones with the egg wash.
Bake for 15 - 20 minutes until the tops and bottoms of the scones are lightly browned. Transfer to a baking rack to cool.
The scones are best eaten the same day but they can be stored in an air-tight container and eaten within 2 or 3 days if stored at room temperature. If kept in the refrigerator, they are good for a week. Warm before eating.
Enjoy them the traditional way with jam and clotted cream!
Like visuals? Watch my TikTok on making scones!