Best Recipe for Real English Scones

cream sconesI ask you, what does it take to get a real English Scone in this country? Those hockey pucks that our stores and eateries have masquerading as scones are an insult.

Okay, I know. I’m sounding like a bit of a snob. And while there isn’t another snobby bone in my body– when it comes to scones, I just want the real thing.

Why? You ask.

Well, long long ago and far far away, back when I lived in England, I worked in an English Tea Room. I made scones all day long, so as to have the bulk of them ready to serve by 4 pm for Afternoon Tea. (High Tea or “meat tea” is actually dinner.)

And they were petite little wonders. Heavenly. Light. Delicate. Sumptuous.
In other words, the opposite of hockey pucks.

So, when I get homesick for a Belinda’s Tea Room scone, I whip up a batch of these.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Flour (preferably cake flour)
  • 2 Tsp Baking Powder
  • ½ Tsp Salt
  • 4 Tbs cold Butter
  • 1/4 cup Sugar (1/3 cup Sugar if you plan on eating them with jam and cream)
  • 1/2 cup Milk

(Some Brits will use Buttermilk instead of Milk, and some will even add an egg. Try a few variations to see which you like best.)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.
  3. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and enough milk to mix to a soft dough (but not wet or overly sticky).
  4. Turn onto a floured surface, knead lightly (don’t over mix) and roll out to a 1 1/2-inch thickness. Cut into 2-inch rounds and place on the prepared baking sheet. (You may also just gently form some balls in your hands and place on baking sheet, like drop biscuits.)
  5. Position rack high in the oven and Bake at 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) for 10-15 minutes then cool on a wire rack.

Break open, spread on some clotted cream, and add a dab of jam on top. (If you don’t feel like making clotted cream, just whip some heavy cream until thick.)

Serve on pretty china, with a strong cup of tea. Add milk (not half & half) and sugar to taste. The only thing left to do is sit down and enjoy your real English Afternoon Tea. Pinky sticking out is optional.  :)

52 thoughts on “Best Recipe for Real English Scones

  1. I do so miss English scones. We had a great little bakery in our village that made fabulous scones…one variety was savory with English cheddar and oregano. And when I couldn’t get those, I would pick up some from Marks & Spencer. Oh how I miss those here…I’m going to have to use your recipe!

  2. When I was young, I read Agatha Christie. Her characters would eat scones, and I always wondered what they were. Later, I had one. It must have been of the hockey puck variety. One day, I’ll visit a real English tea room and order a real scone. They sound scrumptious.

  3. Pingback: Education information » Real English Scones

  4. You know what will make them REALLY good? After you rub in the butter, stick it in the freezer for a bit before adding the milk.

    This keeps the butter nice and cold while you are rolling it out… makes for some really nice layers.

    I’ve been known to make up everything but with powdered milk and store it in the freezer… instant scone mix.. just add water.

  5. Caffienated Cowgirl, I feel your pain. :)

    Lynn, oh yes, if you had a real scone, you’d know it. Nothing like the hockey puck variety at all.

    Mrs. G., please, help yourself!

    Prof J, you’re very welcome.

    Fuzzy Logic, thanks for the great freezer tip. I really like the idea of making your own mixes and storing them. Brilliant!

  6. Well, I don’t know a thing about scones except what other people say about them. But it probably take the same thing to get decent scones here as it takes to get real croissants. So sorry but poppin’ fresh crescents do not come close nor do the lard laden fakes at the in-store bakery. I will have to get brave, and some extra time wouldn’t hurt, and try these though.

  7. Jen M, I always wanted to be a goddess. That’s even better than being King. :)

    Deb, I’m so with you on the croissants too.

    Ginaagain, thanks for including me.

  8. Ooh lovely. My Mum’s British and your recipe is almost identical my grandmother’s recipe, the one I use all the time. The only diff is that hers has slightly more sugar. I also like mine with currants.
    I think I will need to make myself a batch. I got some PG Tips at a local store–no really I’m amazed too, plus we’ve just gotten our stuff out of storage in a friend’s garage so I’ve got china to drink it in. Great post.

  9. edj, this is the recipe from the Tea Room I worked in. I also add a little more sugar because I don’t usually have clotted cream hanging around. A 1/3 cup of sugar adds just the right amount of sweetness for me.

    Linda, oh yes, tea cups with saucers definitely! :)

  10. I agree with you that it is absolutely impossible to find decent scones anywhere other than an English tea room – preferably one in Devon or Cornwall. Clotted cream and homemade jam – full of calories but totally wonderful! I’ll give your recipe a go!

  11. I always wanted a good scone recipe! These look fantastic.

    It’s almost like a classic Southern biscuit recipe. In fact, looking at it again, I’m not really sure what the difference is. I think biscuits use more butter…

    Thanks for the recipe!
    Nick
    http://www.macheesmo.com

  12. I just read your post about scones. Yumm.. I’ve been trying to
    solve a problem for quite a while and I’ve always come up without a solution. My Grandma lived in far Northeast England, near the Scottish border. She made a bread she called “tea cake”. I have found many recipes for tea cakes, but none for the bread that Grandma called tea cake. The recipe made 2 loaves, shaped round. Had currents in them. A bit more sweet than regular bread, not near as sweet as a sweetroll. I’ve been searching for years for something like this. Unfortunately, when Grandma made teacake, I was too young to realize I should write the recipe down. As I got older, Grandma had forgotten the recipe. I had always wanted to find a recipe before my Dad died, but never did find the right one. Dad remembers Grandma using a milk wash on the crust before baking. Hope someone can please help me.

    Happy holidays to all

    carol ô¿ô

  13. Old post, but I remembered it.. thank goodness because I just made rose petal jelly and lemon balm jelly and darn it, I wanted a scone! So I’m making these tonight.

    Thanks Karen!

  14. We tried your scones and they were delicious! Even our little aussie loved them! (Having a few with or without our permission…)
    We were just wondering how to get them just as fluffy using different flours. We tried a whole wheat and oat flour combo but they just didn’t reach the height they did before. Any suggestions? Up the baking powder content?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Woofer — An aussie sneaking and snarfing food?! I’m shocked!! :) Glad you all enjoyed the scones. The heavier flours just don’t work as well with this recipe. You could try upping the baking powder and/or add a little more liquid. Good luck and let me know how they turn out!

  15. Hi Karen! thanks for the recipe! I want to make some in honor of the royal wedding tonight and watch with my daughter! :) I do have one question … what kind of tea do you normally drink at tea time?

    • Hi Jackie! Brits have many favorite teas. The traditional English Afternoon tea is usually a blend of Darjeeling, Assam, and Ceylon teas. Earl Grey is another favorite. Enjoy!

  16. My husband and I visited England a few years ago and I miss it so! I had wonderful scones, with clotted cream, and tea in the Cotswolds! I am pregnant and craving a real English scone, and am excited to try this recipe. My question….is there a way to add blueberries? My son and I are going picking this weekend. I would LOVE a blueberry scone! Any suggestions? Thanks!

    • Becki, just fold in the blueberries after you’ve mixed the dough and right before you roll it out. Makes the scones a little messier but they’re still delicious.

  17. Hi! These scones sound amazing! I can’t wait to try them out. IKve ben ouring the internet for an authentic English scone recipe and yours seem to fit the bill :)
    My questions are (forgive me as I am an inexperienced American scone eater): 1) is it okay to use skim milk or does your recipe call for whole? 2) what is the difference between cream scones and yours?
    Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Nancy, I hear ya on the phone typing — I find it hard enough to type with a full keyboard. :) I would recommend using whole milk for the recipe. It will give the scones more flavor. Which leads me to the answer of your next question: Cream scones use cream instead of whole milk. Makes them really rich and moist. But since I really do like the traditional English Tea scone with clotted cream on top, I find that the whole milk does the trick for me.

      Hope you enjoy the recipe and thanks for stopping by.

  18. Thanks for the recipe! Made these today due to terrible shortage of proper scones in South Carolina. They were just perfect! Also, per earlier poster, as a “proper” southern lady I can also tell you that the recipes are very similar, but a southern biscuit is made with baking soda and buttermilk. In our family, as in many, we use lard instead of butter. Not for the calorie conscious!
    I’m very intrigued to try the clotted cream!

    • Sheri, if you have time to try the clotted cream, it really takes these over the top! Yes, definitely not for the calorie conscious. :)

  19. I am so glad I found this post! I can’t wait to try the scones. I have a brother-in-law from England but he won’t share his scone recipe – I would love to deliver some to him and surprise him!

  20. Dana, these ought to put a smile on his face. But if he’s from England, you have to serve them with the real clotted cream and jam for the full tea room experience. :)

  21. Hi,

    I have just made some of your scones, they taste amazing. The only issue i had was that they seemed too crumbly, would this be solved by adding more butter, also they didnt rise very much, i used two level spoons of baking powder, is this correct?

    Thanks

    • Hi James,
      The nature of English scones is that they are kind of crumbly. :) But you could try adding another 1/8 cup milk. Yes, 2 teaspoons of baking powder.

  22. Aloha – I lived in England during the 70′s and fell in love with English Scones. I have tried several different recipes, including ones in an English cookbook I have, but they are not quite right.

    We are holding a Tea fundraiser in Hawaii and I’ll be making these scones for the event. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe.

  23. LOVED THESE. But I can’t seem to get that nice semi uniformed yet mildly messy circular formation. And that perfect height. Could this be as simple as making them thicker?

    • Demitria, glad you enjoyed them! : ) You can try lightly packing a biscuit cutter to get a thicker uniform size. I just make mine pretty thick by hand.

  24. Just tried the recipe. Seemed ok except that 1/2 cup milk seemed a bit too much. The dough is too wet and the scones do not rise as much. Probably should cut back on the milk? Thanks.

  25. Oh thank you! I have been looking for a good English scone recipe since we returned from England. I have been trying to decode making fresh clotted cream here in the states but I keep getting an odd aftertaste from the cream once it sets. I have been using the baking method, but am also going to experiment with water bath and steam methods I have seen others mention to try. I have been able to find heavy cream that is not ultra pasteurized, but not sure if it is the brand of cream or the feed the cows used for the cream were fed. Raw milk around my area is just not available. Do you by chance have a post on making clotted cream? The stuff in the jar is no where near as good as the clotted cream we had in Cornwall. Any tips you may have would be greatly appreciated.

    • Diane, since I’m usually short on time these days, this is my quick and yummy recipe:
      Mix some marscapone cheese, heavy cream, a little bit of sugar and vanilla extract.
      I just do it to the consistency I like. You may need to experiment, but it’s easy and I think just as delicious as the real thing.

  26. I work for a small town restaurant, and was looking for a true English Scone to try for our customers. Voila, I found your blog. I am very excited to make these and see how the owner likes them. Because I am of English decent, (Mum was a Wilkes) and my Gran, a Cullen, I have been yearning for a true scone, knowing that the hard variety found here in America, was not was should be called a scone. I want to thank you for taking the time to post this, as you are doing a huge service for those of us who want authentic recipes to pass down. I will make sure that when I make these, your recipe is credited as your own, and not mine.
    Thank you so,
    Rhea

  27. I forgot to mention, since I will be using canned fruit, I will need to adjust the flour content after draining the fruit in a strainer for ten minutes, since they are very wet. I will let you know how they fare. (Finding currants in Oklahoma that are dried is near impossible)
    Ty again,
    Rhea

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