Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Scone Making

I've been making scones for quite some time, but I still like to try new techniques and recipes, always searching for the "perfect" scone.  As a result, I have a notebook full of scone tips and recipes. 

When my girlfriend and I had Afternoon Tea at Sweet Shalom recently, their scones were so light and flaky, and yet the title of the recipe was the same as the one that I often use.   I have Sweet Shalom's cookbook, so I compared recipes when I got home.  They tweaked their recipe using 2/3 cup of butter, instead of  1/3 cup butter and 1/3 cup shortening.  And that was the  difference. I've read, vegetable shortening gives great puff, but no flavor, while butter gives great flavor and tenderness, but not a great puff.  

One of the members of a tea-themed E-group that I belong to shared a You Tube link last week for scone making.   The demonstrator [Margaret Fulton] said to place the unbaked scones close to each other so they help each other rise up.  I had never heard that tip before, so I gave it a try today.

I didn't have self-rising flour as the demonstrator used, so I added my own baking powder.  I normally use a pastry cutter to mix the cold butter into the flour mixture, but since the demonstrator used her "finger tips" I did likewise, taking care not to over mix, and I spread the tops with milk instead of an egg wash, as was done in the You Tube video.  I was pleased with the results, but not sure they rose any higher placing them close together.  Could it be the self-rising flour???

Ahhh... tea and warm scones on a wintry day!   What could be better?

Did you know that scones - a Scottish quick bread - is said to have taken its name from the Stone of Destiny [or Scone], the place where Scottish kings were once crowned?

Scone Tips:

* Overworking the dough produces dense, heavy and tough scones.  Mix ingredients until
   just barely combined.
* The liquid in scones can be buttermilk, whipping cream, or whole milk, often in 
   combination with egg.
* Scones can be mixed by hand without the aid of a mixer or food processor.
* Scones can be frozen after they're cut, but before they're baked.  They don't need to be
   thawed before baking.
* Butter must be cold.
* Too little liquid makes a dry scone.  Too much liquid produces a flat scone. 
* Lightly flour cutter before cutting out scones.  Sticking distorts the shape and scone won't
   rise properly.
* Twisting the cutter produces lopsided scones.

Do you have scone tips that work well for you?  If so, please share.

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Today I'm linking to Rose Chintz Cottage for Tea Time Tuesday
Antiques and Teacups for Tuesday Cuppa Tea
Bernideen's Tea Time blog for Friends Sharing Tea


  1. These are great scone tips, Phyllis! I always brush the tops of my scones with milk. Interesting to see that placing them close together on the baking pan didn't make them rise more. I was curious about that when I saw the video.

  2. Oh, what a perfect post, just what I need! I've never made scones and I've been planning on making them this coming weekend. I've been looking up recipes for the last few days. These are great tips, thank you for sharing! :)

  3. You have found the key to baking here - when it doesn't work right - try it again. So many people just QUIT and say "I can't". I just made something 3 different times and it still isn't right but I am figuring it out.

    Your scones are lovely! And believe me - I will get their cookbook out and write down the tips!

  4. Those look delicious! I have never made scones (yet) but have made lots of biscuits, some of the tips apply to both. I haven't found that putting them close together made any difference in the rising. And I've used both self-rising and plain flour, the s-r does seem to give a lighter product. I always added salt as well as baking powder to the plain flour, though. Just a bit, but it seems to help. Now that I'm using whole grains, I need to experiment with some whole-wheat scones. I saved a recipe, if I can find it I may try it this weekend. Thanks for the inspiration.

  5. My only tip is to use my Nordic Ware scone pan! (But I must confess I think the round ones are prettier!)

  6. There is just nothing better than fresh scones! Great post! Thanks for linking to Tuesday Cuppa Tea!

  7. Oh, those look just perfect, Phyllis! Thank you for sharing your Scone Test and the results are so yummy. I like that kind of research.

    I had tried placing the scones closer together Sunday when I made a batch and they didn't seem to rise any higher and a few stuck to each other which wasn't the result I wanted either.

    My tips would be:
    I use Rumford Baking Powder and have always had great results. Make sure it is fresh. You can test it if you have had it around for a while by mixing 1 teaspoon of baking powder with 1/3 cup hot water. If the baking powder is fresh, the mixture should produce lots of bubbles.
    Chill the Crisco as well as the butter.
    In my opinion, blending the butter/Crisco and the dry ingredients with your warm hands tends to soften and melt the butter/Crisco which defeats the purpose of making sure they are chilled. If it is a warm day, I even put the bowl and the pastry blender in the fridge to chill.

    Have a happy day,

    Mary Jane

  8. Hi Phyllis,
    Your scones look wonderful and scones with tea on a cold day cannot be beat! I like the idea of adding both butter and shortening. I always brush on milk and sprinkle on a little sugar before baking. My scones always turn out well but I'm always looking for new ideas. Thanks for sharing and joining me for tea.


  9. I've made so many different scone recipes over the years and switched to butter from Crisco last year. I wouldn't mind trying half butter and half Crisco to see if there is a difference. My current recipe doesn't use eggs but the one I used to use, did. My next project is crumpets and I just bought some rings. There are with and without eggs recipes to try, Angela shared one with eggs that I'll try.
    I always use buttermilk in my scones and I can tell by the dough if it's not fresh.
    Thanks for such an interesting post that prompted discussion.

  10. Hi Phyliss,
    This was such an interesting post with lots of great tips for scone making. Your scones look so yummy on the lovely plate along with the mugs. My favorite scones call for whipping cream and no butter and I always use milk for the top along with either plain sugar or colored. When I cut the scones into triangles I always use a sharp knife, but some still turn out lopsided. I'm going to try using flour on the knife next time I make them. I've gotten behind on viewing my favorite blogs and I see I missed a few of yours, so I'm going to make a cup of tea and enjoy your posts I missed (sorry!). Happy tea day to you!

  11. I have a recipe from Cooks Illustrated in which they freeze the butter, then grate it - so that little balls get dispersed throughout the batter and help with the rise. I haven't done that lately but recall that it seemed to help.

  12. Great scone tips. Now for sure I want a scone for breakfast. And I am trying to lose weight. Love all scones. That was a very nice video too. I really enjoyed it.

  13. I made notes in my Sweet Shalom Cookbook and thank you for the "new" tips!


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