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Classic Cream Scones

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Yields 8 large scones.

  • To learn more, read:
    Truly Tender Scones
  • by Regan Daley from Book;Fine Cooking
    Issue 61

These plump, moist scones are rich and subtly sweet.

  • 9 oz. (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbs. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 2-3/4 oz. (1/2 cup) dried currants (optional)
  • 3 oz. (6 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
For finishing:
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon milk for glazing
  • 1 to 1-1/2 tsp. granulated sugar

Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Line a heavy baking sheet with parchment. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the currants, if using, tossing until evenly distributed and coated with flour. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two table knives until the largest pieces of butter are about the size of peas.

In a small bowl, stir the cream and egg yolks just to blend. Add this all at once to the flour mixture. Stir with a fork to begin combining the wet and dry ingredients and then use your hands to gently knead the mixture together until all the dry ingredients are absorbed into the dough and it can be gathered into a moist, shaggy ball. Don’t overknead: This dough is sticky but benefits from minimal handling. Set the rough ball in the center of the prepared baking sheet and pat it gently into a round about 1 inch thick and 7 inches in diameter. Don’t be tempted to make the round any flatter.

With a sharp knife or a pastry scraper, cut the round into eight wedges; separate the wedges. Brush the scones with the egg-milk glaze (you won’t need to use all of it) and sprinkle with the sugar. Bake until the scones are deep golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of a wedge comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes. Slide the parchment onto a rack and let the scones cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Variations

Cherry-Vanilla Scones: Replace the currants with 6 oz. (1 cup) dried cherries, coarsely chopped.  Add the seeds scraped from one large vanilla bean (or add two tsp. pure vanilla extract) to the cream and egg yolks before combining with the dry ingredients. 

Photo: Scott Phillips

Yum! These turned out perfectly. I made them with dried cranberries, and next time I will add 3/4c.

I do it all in the food processor: mix all dry ingredients, then add the butter frozen and cut into 5 parts. Pulse until I can't hear the butter any more - then add all the wet ingredients and pulse until it comes together enough to make a nice 2" thick wheel. Much better than the mixer method which I used for my first batch. Best scones I ever ate!

I've made these several times and they come out perfectly every time. They freeze wonderfully as well. Great, easy recipe.

I made these for the first time today and they are delicious. I added some vanilla to the wet ingredients. I agree with the other poster who said the fork mixing was sufficient. It is. I will definitely make these again!

These freeze really well, too, so you can make several batches at a time and have fresh scones anytime you want. Just leave off the egg-wash step, separate the scones on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, freeze until solid, then move them to a freezer bag. To bake, you don't need to thaw--just do the egg-wash/sugar step (it's okay to leave this out--they're delicious anyway) and add a few minutes to the total bake time.

Great scones. Sometimes I leave out the currants and make raspberry jam scones instead. Brush scones with a little cream then make an indentation in the top of each unbaked scone and fill with a teaspoon or so of jam (like you would a thumbprint cookie). Then I like to sprinkle each scone with sparkling sugar (or some kind of sugar with big crystals). Bake & enjoy!

This recipe for scones is divine and simple to make. I cut the butter into tiny chunks by dividing the butter into quarters lengthwise and then cutting the logs into small chunks before it goes into flour. Move quickly with the tips of you fingers and do not over work the butter. Use a fork to pull together the flour and egg mixture. The pastry was very moist and I just turned it out onto a lightly floured board. I formed a 2 x 14ish inch log, tapping down the top (rather than a circle) and cut the pastry into small rectangles and then into triangles with a bench scrapper. I did not 'knead' this pastry and I think it helped keep the scones light and delicious. Enjoy. Post script, I just made a Vanilla Bean and Dried Cranberry version and my family is devouring them now!

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