Today I’m sharing everything you need to know to make this Foolproof Scones Recipe. A flaky, crisp exterior exposes a tender, buttery soft interior that melts away in your mouth. These traditional scones are heavenly for breakfast or afternoon tea!
The delightful English scone has graced the plates for afternoon tea in kitchens for years. Humble in appearance yet beautiful in its simplicity, the scone is a prerequisite of any high tea. If you love an afternoon snack, you'll enjoy my Cherry Almond Scones, Chocolate Hazelnut Granola Bars, or Lemon Poppy Seed Madeleines.
When making scones in the past, have you experienced the dough being too sticky, the scones don’t rise, or they're lopsided, or even worse, dry? Yep, so have I. So, I've spent time developing this incredible recipe to share.
This recipe for big fluffy scones is the real deal. So stick around and let's delve into the ins and outs of this foolproof scones recipe so that you too can create a batch to rival Mary Berry's scones!
🌟 Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Uses pantry ingredients. Flour, butter, egg, and milk make up the core ingredients of these scones, and you're most likely going to have them in your kitchen.
- Quick to make. The scones come together in ten minutes or under, and with a short bake time, you could enjoy a beautiful scone in under half an hour.
- Perfect for afternoon tea. Served alongside a cup of tea, these make the perfect afternoon snack.
🇺🇸🇬🇧 American Scones VS British Scones!
Having been in this food space for a couple of years now, I’ve come to understand the differences between American scones as opposed to scones made here in Britain.
In the States I've noticed the popular scone shape is a triangular wedge shape. The dough is shaped into round discs and cut into segments.
Often the scone dough itself is sweeter with more sugar added and filled with all sorts of fruit, nuts, or chocolate. Once baked the scones are decorated with a drizzle or glaze over the top of each scone and eaten as is.
In Britain, we cut the scones into rounds with a plain or fluted-edged cookie cutter. They're either left plain or filled with dried fruit as standard.
The tops are brushed in egg wash, milk, or cream to provide a golden finish and once baked they're served split in half, with clotted cream and jam or butter. The scone dough itself isn’t overly sweet due to the toppings added during serving.
🧾 Ingredients Needed
In this easy, foolproof scone recipe, let's delve into the ingredients needed to make beautiful flaky, soft scones.
- Self-raising flour - Part of the success of making scones lies in the height that they rise. Using self-raising flour will greatly improve your chances as it has a raising agent already mixed through. (Check out my FAQs below if you can only get plain flour.)
- Salt & baking powder - Salt adds depth to the flavour, and the extra baking powder helps create a little more lift.
- Caster sugar - Add sweetness; feel free to use granulated sugar if that is all you have.
- Whole Milk - I prefer full-fat milk due to the higher fat content, which adds more richness to the dough. Double cream (heavy) cream, yogurt or buttermilk can be used as a substitute. You might need a teaspoon or two more cream as its consistency is thicker than milk.
- Large Egg - The egg helps bind the ingredients together and increases the richness and flavour.
- Unsalted butter - Has to be cold to create flaky layers within the scone.
Scones topped with clotted cream or whipped cream and jam are utterly delightful. Having said that, they're brilliant when other ingredients are added, creating different flavour variations.
Here are some ideas of what you can mix through your dough before baking:
- Citrus: Grate orange or lemon zest into the dough. Make a simple glaze of powdered icing sugar with a little citrus juice to drizzle on top of the scone for extra flavour. My Cranberry Orange Scones are Christmas favourites!
- Chocolate: Add in milk, dark or white chocolate chips or chopped chocolate (I have a Chocolate Chip Scones Recipe that's delicious!).
- Dried fruit: Any dried fruit such as sultanas, raisins, cranberries or chopped apricots are a wonderful addition. Check out my fabulous Sultana Scones.
- Berries: Frozen or fresh strawberries, blueberries or raspberries can add the perfect fruity kick. Be aware that the cooking time might increase as the fruit adds moisture to the dough.
- Savoury: Add cheese, herbs or even crispy bacon pieces for the perfect accompaniment to your meal. Ali at Give Me Some Oven has some delicious-looking Cheddar Scones.
👩🏻🍳 How to Make
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions!*
Now we understand the ingredients that are used in this plain scone recipe, let's jump into how actually to make these amazing scones.
STEP 1. Sift together dry ingredients. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Into a large mixing bowl, sift in your dry ingredients; flour, baking powder, and salt. Add in the sugar and stir together (Image 1).
STEP 2. Whisk wet ingredients together. In a bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, and vanilla extract. Once whisked, set aside one tablespoon of the egg mixture- this will be your egg wash to be used later on (Image 2).
TIP: Keeping everything cold is imperative to successfully make scones.
If your kitchen is warm, then measure out your ingredients and refrigerate them all for half an hour (mixing bowl included) before you crack on with the method. If you have warm hands, run them under cold water to reduce their temperature, then pat dry before handling the butter.
STEP 4. Combine wet with the dry ingredients. Make a well in the dry mix and pour the whisked egg and milk mixture into the center (Image 5). Use a fork to stir until the mixture starts coming together to form a dough. It will still be very shaggy at this point and feel quite sticky (Image 6).
If necessary, use your floured hands to lightly bring it all together, incorporating the dry flour left at the bottom of the bowl.
TIP: If there are dry crumbs at the bottom of the bowl or it looks too dry, then add more milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, and mix in with the fork or hands.
STEP 5. Bring the dough together and roll it out. Tip the scone mix onto a lightly floured surface, and using your hands, bring it together and gently flatten it out.
We'll use a folding technique to create flaky layers, incorporate air into the dough, and minimize kneading. I use a bench scraper to help me out. Fold the dough in half and turn (Image 7), then fold it in half again (Image 8). Using your hands, shape and press the dough into a round disc or gently roll with a rolling pin until the dough is roughly 3 cm (1 inch) thick.
STEP 6. Cut out scone rounds. Dip a 6 cm (2 ¼-inch) cookie cutter in flour and stamp out 4 or 5 rounds (Image 9). Ensure you don’t twist the cutter when pressing down.
TIP: Dipping the cookie cutter in flour will help prevent the dough from sticking to the cookie cutter.
STEP 7. Cut scones from the remaining dough. Gather any scraps and push them together with your hands until another disc is formed. Cut out as many rounds as you can with this leftover dough. Place the scones on the prepared baking tray to just touch each other (Image 10).
STEP 8. Refrigerate, egg wash, and bake. Refrigerate the tray for 30 minutes to rest the dough. Preheat oven to 200C (425F).
Using the egg wash you set aside earlier, brush the tops of the scones. Take care not to let any drip down the sides of the scones, as this can inhibit their rise (Image 11). Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown and well risen (Image 12).
TIP: If you forgot to set aside some egg wash, don't worry - brush the tops with milk. (The scones may not bake up as golden brown, though)
🥣 How To Serve
Serve scones with cream and jam (how I like it) or jam then cream. The debate rages on in the UK as to which goes first! I say go for it; however, your preference lies - let's be honest- they taste exactly the same!
💭 Recipe Pro Tips
- Use cold ingredients and cold hands. The aim is to keep the butter as cold as possible when making the dough so that it melts when it hits the high heat, not before, and creates that uber-flakey interior we're after.
- Don't overwork the dough. By using my folding technique, you minimize the amount that you work the dough. It adds air and creates flaky layers. This prevents the activation of gluten and in turn, tough scones when baked.
- For the best rise. Use a round cookie cutter and stamp it down without twisting the cookie cutter. Also, egg wash just the tops, with no drips down the side.
- Refrigerate the dough before baking. This allows the flour to hydrate, the gluten to relax, the butter to re-chill and harden, and the baking powder to get to work. All this helps in creating tall, soft, flaky scones
📋 Recipe FAQs & Troubleshooting
A couple of possibilities here. Your baking powder might be out of date. Just have a quick look. If you don’t use it often, it's easy to keep out-of-date powder, and this will affect the rise. Also, you may have overworked the dough, inhibiting the rise. Keep the handling to a minimum.
Same reasons as above. Add enough moisture to the dough, so it feels slightly wet and sticky when you turn it out. Too little moisture will lead to dry, dense scones.
This an age-old question and one that can cause controversy. Some say scones shouldn’t have eggs, some say they should (like me). I believe scones benefit from the egg as it binds the ingredients, adds flavour and also acts as a leavener and aids in the rise, leading to increased fluffiness.
Yes absolutely. When you bring the dough together into a disc on the countertop, instead of stamping out rounds, simply cut the disc into wedges. You won’t have the problem of wasting any scraps! Place the wedges on a baking tray and bake as per my Foolproof Scone Recipe. My Glazed Chocolate Chip Scone recipe and Cherry Almond Scones are made this way.
If you don't have self-raising flour, then sub with plain flour and extra baking powder. For this recipe, add 3.5 teaspoons of baking powder to 375g/3 cups plain (all-purpose) flour and stir together. Continue as per the recipe instructions and the other ingredients, including the stated baking powder.
My pro tips cover what I believe to be foolproof techniques to make incredible scones. In short, though, refrigerate your ingredients, mix with cold hands, don't overwork the dough, and refrigerate the dough before baking.
❓ How to Make Small Batch Scones?
I get it, sometimes you don’t want 8-10 scones in one trot. Luckily, this recipe can be halved easily. For the egg, use a medium-sized and whisk it, remove a tablespoon, and discard it. I wouldn’t bother cutting this small batch with a cookie cutter.
Follow the method in the recipe card below. Instead of cutting out rounds, work the dough into a round disc with your hands, then cut it into four quarters with a sharp knife. Place the round on a baking tray, refrigerate, brush with egg wash, and bake as normal. See the images below.
Small Batch Scone Recipe Makes 4 large scones (Or 6 small ones.)
150g (1 ¼ cup) self-raising flour
15g (1 tbsp) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
45g (3 tbsp) cold unsalted butter, chopped
45ml (3 tbsp) whole milk
1 medium egg, room temperature
❄️ Storage and Freezer Instructions
To store: Scones are best served fresh and slightly warm. To store them, wrap them in plastic wrap or place them in a ziplock bag to prevent them from drying out and retaining their moisture. Leave at room temperature. They should last 1 to 2 days.
To freeze: Once baked scones are cooled, wrap them immediately in plastic wrap or place them in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature and reheat in the oven or microwave.
😋 More Snack Recipes
If you tried this Foolproof Scones Recipe or any other recipe on my website, please please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how you go in the 📝 comments below. I love hearing from you!
Foolproof Scone Recipe
- 375 g self-raising flour
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 12 g caster sugar
- 180 ml whole milk, cold
- 1 large egg, cold
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 90 g unsalted butter, chopped, cold
- Sift dry ingredients together. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Into a large mixing bowl, sift in your dry ingredients; flour, baking powder and salt. Add in the sugar and stir together.
- Whisk wet ingredients together. Whisk together the egg, milk, and vanilla extract. Once whisked, set aside one tablespoon of the egg mixture- this will be your egg wash to be used later on.
- Add butter to flour. Add in the chopped butter and using your fingertips, toss the pieces until they are separated and coated with flour. Using your fingertips, rub the flour and butter together until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs. (Alternatively, use a pastry cutter) Some pieces of butter can be left larger, until they are the size of peas.
- Combine wet with the dry ingredients. Make a well in the dry mix and pour the whisked egg and milk mixture into the centre. Use a fork to stir until the mixture just starts to come together to form a dough. It will still be very shaggy at this point and feel quite sticky. If necessary, use your hands to lightly bring it all together incorporating the dry flour left at the bottom of the bowl.
- Bring the dough together and roll it out. Tip the scone mix onto a lightly floured surface and using your hands, bring it together and gently flatten it out. We're going to use a folding technique to create flaky layers and incorporate air into the dough and minimize kneading. I use a bench scraper to help me out. Fold the dough in half and turn, then fold it in half again. Using your hands, shape and press the dough into a round disc or gently roll with a rolling pin until the dough is roughly 3 cm (1 inch) thick.
- Cut out scone rounds. Dip a 6 cm (2 1⁄4-inch) cookie cutter in flour and stamp out 4 or 5 rounds. Make sure that you don’t twist the cutter when pressing down as this can make the scones wonky when they bake. (They still taste the same so don't fret if you do twist it a bit.)
- Cut scones from the remaining dough and bake. Gather any scraps and push them together with your hands until another disc is formed. Cut out as many rounds as you can with this leftover dough. Place the scones on the prepared baking tray so they're just touching each other.
- Refrigerate, egg wash, and bake. Refrigerate the tray for 30 minutes to rest the dough. Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F) whilst the scones are in the fridge.Using the egg wash that you set aside earlier, brush the tops of the scones. Take care not to let any drip down the sides of the scones as this can inhibit their rise. Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown and well risen. Serve scones warm with cream and jam. Best eaten the day they are made.
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.
190g (1 ½ cup) self-raising flour
15g granulated sugar (1 tbsp)
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
45g cold unsalted butter, chopped (3 tbsp)
45ml whole milk (3 tbsp)
1 medium egg, room temperature- whisk and remove and discard 1 tablespoon of the beaten egg. Follow the method written for a standard-sized batch. Instead of cutting out rounds, work the dough into a round disc with your hands, then cut it into four quarters with a sharp knife. Place the round on a baking tray, refrigerate, brush with egg wash, and bake as normal.
This post was originally published in April 2021 but has been updated.