How to Make Traditional English Scones

Updated on April 5, 2018
Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

Science graduate and business advisor, health educator and author, Beth writes articles on a wide variety of subjects.

A traditional afternoon tea with scones, double cream and strawberry jam.
A traditional afternoon tea with scones, double cream and strawberry jam. | Source

Traditional English Scones

Scones are the perfect tea-time treat. They are quick and easy to prepare and use ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen cupboard. All the items in the recipe below are common items that all grocers and supermarket stores have in stock. The quantities given in this recipe are standard US measurements.

Freshly made, home-baked scones taste fantastic compared to shop-bought ones. Your house will smell of delicious baking smells too! Once you have mastered the art of baking scones, you need never worry again about having not having a tasty snack to offer an unexpected guest.

Home-baking skills used to be passed on from one generation to another. However, some of these skills seem to have missed out a generation. Don’t be afraid to try out a new recipe. The only way to become a competent scone baker is by practicing over and over (and you will enjoy tasting and eating the results too.)

Ingredients for Plain Sweet Scones (makes approx. 10 scones)

  • 1 cup self-rising flour, (or use plain flour and add a teaspoon of baking powder)
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg for glazing, (or you can use milk instead)
Golden yellow savory cheese scones.
Golden yellow savory cheese scones. | Source

Cheese and Fruit Variations

Cheese Scones

For savory cheese scones, you simply leave out the sugar and add ½ cup of grated Cheddar cheese (or other medium to strong tasting cheese).

Fruit Scones

To make fruit scones, just add ½ cup of dried mixed fruit to the plain sweet scone recipe.

Equipment Needed

Some people use an electric mixer, but I prefer the traditional way of using a large mixing bowl and then manually blend the ingredients using a spatula or flexible knife.

You will also need a flat pastry board and a 2” round pastry cutter. A marble pastry board keeps your dough cool in a warm kitchen and the smooth shiny surface is naturally non-stick.

To bake the scones you will need a baking sheet, a pastry brush to apply the egg glaze and a wire cooling rack.

Cooking and Preparation Times

Prep Time - 10 minutes

Cooking Time - 10 to 12 minutes

Oven Temp - 425o F, 220o C or Gas Mark 7

Yields about 10 pastries.

Method for Making Scones

1. Before you start mixing the ingredients, turn on the oven. Scones need to be put into a hot oven. They rise and cook quickly at the correct temperature. If the oven is too cool when they go in, your scones will not rise properly and they will taste heavy and doughy.

2. Lightly grease the baking sheet and dust with a little flour. This will help prevent the pastries from sticking during baking.

3. Place the flour, salt (and baking powder if being used) into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter or margarine cut into small pieces about one inch in size. Using clean hands, rub the fat into the flour to form “breadcrumbs”.

4. Add the rest of the dry ingredients to the bowl. These will be the sugar, fruit or cheese depending on which variation of sweet or savory scone you are making.

5. Make a well in the middle of the mixture with the spatula and gradually add the milk blending from the center. Fold the milk into the dry mixture gently so that you do not beat the air out of the dough. You dough should be firm and not sticky once all the milk has been mixed in.

Ball of scone dough on floured pastry board.
Ball of scone dough on floured pastry board. | Source

6. To prevent the dough sticking to the pastry board or your hands, dust a little flour on both. Then with floured hands, take the ball of dough from the mixing bowl and place it gently onto your board. Do not use a rolling pin to flatten it. Instead shape it by patting (gently!) into a one inch thick sheet. This will double in height when it is cooked. (Don't be tempted to make them any thinner or there will be no room to cut them in half for the traditional fresh cream and jam filling.)

7. Using a 2” diameter pastry cutter, make scone shapes from your dough sheet. You should be able to get about 10 or 12 scones from this recipe. Put them on the greased baking sheet and give each one an egg glaze. To make the glaze, dip the pastry brush into beaten egg and paint a little on the top of each scone.

8. Put the baking tray of scones into your preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes. (Check them after 10 minutes to see if they have risen and are golden on top. If not, leave to bake for 2 more minutes.) If you have handled the dough lightly whilst mixing, they will have doubled in height.

9. Place the scones onto the wire rack to cool.

Plain sweet scones with clotted cream and jam.
Plain sweet scones with clotted cream and jam. | Source

Traditional English Scones

4.7 stars from 6 ratings of Traditional English Scones

Serve Them Freshly Baked With Clotted Cream and Jam

Scones are traditionally served with clotted cream and home-made strawberry jam. In the UK they make an ideal snack with a cup of tea at Teatime (that's about 4 p.m.)

They should be eaten on the same day as they are baked. They go stale very quickly and never taste as good if eaten the following day.

The video below shows how to make traditional English scones. The film was made in real time and illustrates how quick and simple it is to make them.

How to Make Authentic English Scones

Plain Scone Nutritional Information

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 40g
Calories 150
Calories from Fat54
% Daily Value *
Fat 6 g9%
Saturated fat 2 g10%
Unsaturated fat 4 g
Carbohydrates 19 g6%
Fiber 1 g4%
Protein 4 g8%
Cholesterol 49 mg16%
Sodium 288 mg12%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Suggested Variations to the Basic Recipe

Each of these is a separate recipe suggestion. They are not intended to all be added to the same batch!

1. Use buttermilk in place of pasteurized milk.

2. Make a spicy version by replacing the sugar with treacle or molasses and adding cinnamon and nutmeg.

3. Add grated parmesan cheese and crushed garlic for a tasty, savory snack.

Nutritional Information for Variations

Serving size - 40g
Average Calories
Plain Scones
Fruit Scones
Cheese Scones

How to Pronounce "Scone"

If you visit the UK you will find that scones are eaten not just in England, but also in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. You will hear regional variation in the pronunciation of the word “scone”. In general, people in the southern parts of England make the “o” a long sound, so that it rhymes with “cone” and “Joan” to sound like “own”. People in the northern areas of England shorten the “o” so that it rhymes with “con” and “John”. They say it so that it sounds like “on”.

Plain scones for breakfast with home-made raspberry jam.
Plain scones for breakfast with home-made raspberry jam. | Source

Does the Cream Go On Before Or After the Jam (Jelly)?

This is a question that arouses great passion in the English counties of Devon and Cornwall. Both places make delicious clotted cream and grow succulent strawberries for jam-making (jelly-making).

Devonians prefer to put cream on their scones first. No butter is needed, the cream makes a good base for the jam to sit upon and cannot then soak away into the dough.

Residents from Cornwall take the opposite view. The jam goes on first, and the cream is spooned over it. The correct answer depends on where your loyalties lie.


Submit a Comment

  • Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

    Beth Eaglescliffe 4 years ago from UK

    I wish you and yours a happy new year too, Ann.

    I put the cream on first and then the jam, but purely for practical reasons. I find that the cream doesn’t seem to stick very well on top of the jam; jam first makes the cream slither off as I try to eat it. But I have no ideological reasons for doing it that way.

  • annart profile image

    Ann Carr 4 years ago from SW England

    There is often the argument here as to whether the jam or the cream should go on first; personally, I put the jam on first but some people get quite incensed about it! Traditions bring out the best and the worst in people!

    Being from the south coast of England, I used to say 'scone' with a long 'o'; I went to college in the Midlands and got ribbed because they said I was 'posh' (as if!) so now I use the northern pronunciation. At least I'm justified to do so as my father was a Yorkshireman. He loved his 'high tea' at 5pm; bread and jam or maybe a slice of fruit cake and of course his beloved cup of tea.

    I can't bear the smell or taste of tea (don't know why!) but I do love traditional scones. They are often associated with the south-west of England; more to do with the clotted cream on them I think!

    Happy New Year to you and yours. Ann