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How-To

How to Make Cream Scones

Tender and sweet, scones are equally satisfying as breakfast or an afternoon pick-me-up.

Fine Cooking Issue 122
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Originally from Scotland, scones are best known as the star of a proper English tea, especially when they’re served with clotted cream and jam. I like to think of them as the missing link between piecrust and cake. They’re flaky like a piecrust but tender with a fine crumb like a cake. They’re slightly soft, a bit crunchy on the outside, a little sweet, and always pleasing.

I have a special trick that makes my scones especially luxurious. Most scones are made with cream, but I whip the cream to soft peaks before folding it into the dry ingredients. The air trapped in the cream helps the scones rise, making them extra soft and light. With butter to make them flaky and a bit of honey for a golden crust, these scones are worthy of the finest English tea, but they needn’t be just a special-occasion treat. They come together quickly enough that any breakfast, afternoon coffee, or midnight snack can feel like a fancy affair.

Need to Know

Beat the cream in a chilled bowl with chilled beaters. This helps keep the cream cold so it can trap the maximum amount of air as it’s whipped.

Press the butter into flakes to make the scones flakier. Using your fingers, as shown above, produces flakes that are flat and even.

Use honey and sugar. Honey makes the scones brown better, but using only honey would make them too dense, so I also use sugar.

Work the dough, but not too much. Gently kneading the dough will give the scones smooth exteriors, but working the dough more will make the scones tough.

Shape the dough in a cake pan. The pan makes a smooth, evenly shaped disk. Lining the pan with plastic wrap makes it easy to lift out the disk.

Use a sharp knife to cut the dough before baking. A dull knife will seal the cut edges, which inhibits rising.

Wrap the scones in a clean towel to cool. This traps the steam to keep the scones soft. Just be sure to use a towel that hasn’t been dried with scented fabric softener, or your scones may end up tasting like your laundry. Read the Test Kitchen Tip for information on how to choose kitchen towels that will come in contact with food.

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