Are you tired of making scones that just don’t turn out the way you expected? It’s possible that you just need a bit more insight into the ingredients and techniques. Becoming a skilled baker, is a journey of continuous learning. Every new tip you acquire, brings you closer to perfection (and an expert in scone making).
In this blog post, we’ll share 7 essential scone making tips that could be the game changers you’ve been searching for. With these tips in hand, you’ll be well on your way to creating the most delicious, fluffy, and tender scones you’ve ever tasted. 🙂
What are scones?
At their core, scones are a type of baked good made from a simple mixture of flour, water, butter, and a leavening agent. Additional ingredients, such as salt, sugar, cream, milk, and egg (often used as a wash), can be incorporated to enhance their flavour and texture. However, defining a scone goes beyond its basic components; it’s also about what they mean to you and the memories they evoke.
People’s preferences for scones vary widely based on their experiences and the first scone they ever tasted. Cultural factors play a significant role in shaping these preferences as well. For instance, scones from England, Ireland, and America each have distinct textures and characteristics. With each reflecting the unique baking traditions of these regions.
In countries like Australia, where diverse cultures come together, scone preferences can be even more varied, often leading to passionate discussions and debates. When trying a new scone recipe, it’s essential to approach it with an open mind and appreciate the end product for what it is. By doing so, you’ll not only expand your scone repertoire but also gain a deeper understanding of the rich culinary tapestry that scones represent.
Scones as a quick snack when guests drop by
Using self-raising flour, cream, and water is excellent for what I consider great scones. Lemonade or soda water can also be used instead of plain water to add more rise; we had some fun with this at our Bake Club meetings using different flavours. For example, elderflower, rhubarb and raspberry cordial mixed with soda water.
Free Scone making course
If you’re interested in perfecting your scone-making skills we also have a free Mini Course available. It includes the 7 scone making tips I’ve shared here, plus a few more. I’ve also created a video for Thermomix and Non-Thermomix scone making. As someone who learns best by watching, I highly recommend giving it a try.
1. What happens when I overwork my scone mix?
When you overwork the flour in your scone mix, you develop more gluten, which can result in tough scones.
2. How should I mix my scones?
If you have warm hands, be mindful of keeping the butter or cream cold while working with the dough. Use a knife, bowl scraper, fingertips, or food processor to bring the dough together just enough to combine the ingredients.
3. How do you make tall scones?
The key to achieving tall scones is to begin with a taller dough. While the dough will rise during baking, you cannot expect a one-inch high scone to double in height after baking. To ensure taller scones, start with a thicker dough disc and place the scones on a tray with sides, allowing them to slightly touch one another. This arrangement encourages the scones to push against the pan and each other, promoting height.
4. What flour should I use for scones?
Navigating the vast array of flours at supermarkets can be a daunting task. Many quick scone recipes recommend self-raising flour, which contains a leavening agent that helps achieve the desired rise. Without this leavening agent, scones can become dense and heavy. However, you can opt for plain flour and add the appropriate amount of baking powder to your mix. This method allows you to control the amount of lift in your scones without compromising flavour, resulting in a well-balanced and delicious final product.
5. Baking soda or Baking powder for scones?
If a recipe requires plain flour and a leavening agent, substituting self-raising flour is possible, but it may not yield the intended result. The amount of leavening agent in self-raising flour may differ from the recipe, which can affect the final product. The key is to use an appropriate amount of leavening agent for a good rise, without altering the taste. It’s important to note that premade self-raising flours can vary in quality and potency based on brand and age, as leavening agents can lose their effectiveness over time.
For instance, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) forms carbon dioxide gas when heated, which helps baked goods rise. However, without an acid to neutralize it, baking soda can leave an unpleasant alkaline flavour (a soapy taste) and not yield the best results. Have you had scones from a bakery that tasted like this?
6. Why was Baking Powder developed?
Baking powder was developed to enhance the leavening process in baked goods without relying on the presence of an external acidic ingredient. Essentially, baking powder is a combination of baking soda, added acid, a filling agent like tapioca flour, and often a little salt. This combination is sometimes referred to as “double action baking powder,” which helps create lift and neutralize the alkaline flavour without the need for additional acid.
Understanding the difference between baking powder and baking soda is crucial for successful baking. Many people mistakenly believe that they are interchangeable, but they serve distinct functions.
Baking soda reacts with acidic ingredients, creating lift when the acid is introduced. For example, when a cake recipe calls for baking soda, you’ll typically find an acidic ingredient, such as buttermilk or lemon, in the list. If you were to substitute regular milk, the cake might not rise as well, and the taste would also be altered. The acidity of buttermilk releases the raising power in the baking soda.
If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can easily create a substitute by adding approximately 10 to 20 ml of lemon juice or vinegar to each cup of milk. Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes, and you’ll have a homemade buttermilk substitute with similar properties.
7. To sift or not to sift flour for scones, that is the question.
Decades ago, sifting flour was a common practice for our grandparents (or great-grandparents, depending on your age). There were several reasons for this, some of which may surprise you. Before flour bleaching, weevils were a common problem, so sifting helped remove them.
Additionally, unbleached flour tended to be heavier and clumped in sacks, making sifting necessary to break up these clumps. Today, our flour goes through more processing, which has its pros and cons.
When it comes to sifting, the decision ultimately depends on your personal preference and the type of baked goods you’re making. For scones, I usually don’t sift. If my flour is unbleached and slightly clumped, I’ll whisk the measured amount with a balloon whisk or break up the clumps with my hands. However, for lighter baked goods like sponge cakes, I always sift.
In conclusion, if a recipe calls for sifting, the choice is yours. If you’re aiming for ultra-light and airy baked goods, then sifting is the way to go.
Great pans for cooking scones
I prefer using a pan with sides that are approximately the same height as my finished scones. At our cooking school and in my home, we use USA Pans. These pans are made of metal that features a silicone coating. It provides a nonstick surface for easy release of the baked goods. The textured design of the pans adds sturdiness without making them overly heavy. While they are not dishwasher-safe, cleaning them is still a breeze.
By using a pan with sides, you can ensure that your scones are well-supported during the baking process. This helps them maintain their shape and height, resulting in beautifully baked scones every time.
USA Biscotti Pan – This is my favourite tin for home it is the perfect size for the recipe I share in the course, although if you want to double your batch see the next sizes. Scones do freeze well. 30.5x14x5cm (12×5.5×2″)
USA Rectangular Cake Pan – Also great for any traybake, brownies, or I even use it to roast veg in. 23x33x5cm (9x13x2″)
USA Square Cake Pan – As the name suggests, great for a square cake but good for a batch of scones too. This comes in two sizes. 20 and 25cm (8″ and 9″) square
Why not do our FREE Scone Mini-course?
We’ve made the FREE Scone mini-course because this scone recipe has been so popular. We’ve added a video with all the tips. Click on the link to give it a try.
My recipe for Easy Scones
Here you go; this is my go to scone recipe for whipping up a quick batch. Make this a couple of times, and you may not even need to weigh the ingredients. I tend to go by texture, and you can too with a little practice 🙂
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- 250 ml cream
- 600 g Self-raising flour sifted
- 1 pinch Of salt
- 250 ml Soda water (or lemonade)
- Optional Milk for brushing tops this will help brown and have them rise more
- Optional Jam and whipped cream to serve
- Preheat oven to 220°C fan. Place baking paper in your baking tray (unless you have a good quality non stick pan).
- Place, flour and salt into a bowl and mix until combined. Gradually add the cream then sodawater and mix until the dough sticks together. It will look really dry at first but trust me it will come tgether. Turn out onto a floured board dust with a little flour. Not too much or you'll have dry scones.
- Press the dough into 3 cm thick square. Using a round floured cookie cutter, cut out your scones then arrange them in a grid the baking tray.
- Brush with milk (If you like) and bake in very hot oven 10-15mins (tops will brown just a little). Serve warm with jam, cream and tea.
You can tell when they’re cooked by gently prising the top off one in the centre of the tin if you are unsure.
We’ve tested using soda water and cordial rather than lemonade. We always have elderflower cordial at the school for a refreshing drink during classes. So that got a taste test as well as rhubarb cordial. I think I liked the rhubarb the best. It gave a nice tang without being too sweet.
If you choose to use soda water and no extra sugar; your scones can be served as a quick bread to serve with soup and the like.
Want to know more?
Want to try another scone recipe? How about Hummingbird Scones?
Or maybe you’d like to join us for Bake Club Online?