Photography by Jim Norton
Learn how to make perfect scones with advice from Test Kitchen food specialist Soo Kim, then find a new favourite from our selection of simple scones recipes below.
Tips for perfecting the classic scone
When making scones, "always use cold cubed butter", Soo says, "and cut that into your flour mixture until coarse crumbs with a few larger pieces appear."
It's important to use butter straight from the fridge, she explains, because when cold butter mixes with dry ingredients, flour-coated crumbs form, and this is what gives scones their flaky texture.
"Mix in wet ingredients until just combined, then gently knead (the dough) on a floured counter until also just combined," she adds. "The key to a light, textured scone is to not overwork the dough, while using a light hand. Otherwise, the result will be a hard, doughy scone."
Little-knowns about scones
"The addition of buttermilk and omitting the egg (from the dough) creates a bread-like texture with a slight tang," Soo shares.
"Also, whipping cream creates a light, fluffy scone texture, with a crisp crust and a rich flavour."
Flour-based scones vs. oatmeal scones
"We don’t recommend making scones with just oatmeal," Soo says, "but the addition of quick-cooking oatmeal is a great healthy option for a breakfast scone. You can also toast oatmeal to impart a wonderful, earthy-flavoured scone."
The healthier pop tart
Scones are well known for being everyday treats that you can make ahead and keep in the freezer.
"Most scone recipes freeze well and bake nicely," Soo says. "You can bake scones from a frozen state, keeping the same oven temperature (as indicated in the original recipe). Cover the scones with foil if they brown too quickly."
"Another option is to bake then cool the scones, freeze them in freezer bags, and defrost at room temperature or in a microwave."
Try one of these scones recipes for your next afternoon tea:
It takes no time at all to bake a batch of protein-enriched scones when the biscuit mix is all ready. You can also make plain tea biscuits by mixing 2 cups (500 mL) mix with 2/3 cup (150 mL) water, then kneading the dough 8 to 10 times before cutting and baking as for scones.
Mini Lemon Scones with Strawberries and Cream
Don't worry about leftovers; scones freeze well and are perfect for breakfast. Devonshire cream (a clotted cream from England) is very thick and rich and does not require whipping. Look for small jars in the dairy section of the grocery store.
With a hint of cinnamon, this is a delicious breakfast scone. If you like raisins or dried cranberries, add 1/2 cup (125 mL) after cutting in the butter.