If you’ve ever made scones the traditional or more modern, easy way and weren’t happy with the results, you need to understand a few basic requirements. With every tip, you learn you become a better baker. Easy scones are the bomb!
What are scones anyway?
When I’ve talked to people about their scone preferences, they seem to have very different ideas of what a good scone should be. I’d imagine it stems back to life experiences, memories of their first yummy scone.
Scones in England, Ireland, and America are all textured differently. I think in Australia, due to our melting pot of cultures we might have differing ideas. This is the cause of many a heated discussion. So when you try a new recipe do it with an open mind and love them for what they are.
Never overwork your scone mix:
Overworking flour will develop gluten making your scones tough. Do you have warm hands? You want the butter or cream to stay very cold, so chose the method you’d like to use to bring the dough together. Use a knife, bowl scraper, your fingertips or a food processor, just enough to blend the mix.
Scones are brilliant for a quick snack or when guests drop by:
The method of using self-raising flour, cream and water is excellent for what I consider are 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.
If you want tall scones:
After cutting them out place them on a tray that has taller sides, have them just touching each other. The scones like to push up against the walls of the pan and each other to gain some height. A baking dish also helps them to cook evenly. If you use a flat tray with no sides in a very hot oven the outside will cook well before the centre scones are cooked through.
Use the flour that has been suggested in your recipe:
There are many types of flours available at our supermarkets today. Which is great, but it can be confusing. A lot of quick scone recipes ask for self-raising flour; this is because a leavening agent is required to give the desired lift. Without it, your dough will be dense and heavy.
Baking soda versus Baking powder:
If the recipe you’ve chosen has plain flour plus a leavening agent, you can always try a substitute of self-raising flour as a direct replacement, BUT you may not get the same result as the recipe intended.
Although it may be close, sometimes a recipe calls for more or less of the leavening agent that is added to the pre-packed self-raising flour. It’s this leavening agent that makes the scones tall. The trick is to add enough to get a high lift but not too much to be able to taste it. Premade self-raising flours vary a bit from brand to brand and the age of the product can also affect the results. Over time these chemical Leaveners lose their potency.
For example, Baking soda is chemically known as sodium bicarbonate. When used it in baked goods this chemical compound forms carbon dioxide gas when heated, which is great but without acid to help it, it can often leave an unpleasant alkaline flavour behind (a soapy taste), and you won’t get the best results.
So Baking powder was developed.
Baking powder is baking soda with an added acid plus a little salt most of the time. Some places call this “double action baking powder” as the second ingredient will help with lift and curb that alkaline flavour without having to add any extra acid.
I know this sounds boring but if you know what this all means; your baking will be much better. I come across a lot of people that think baking powder and baking soda are the same things, and they’re not.
Baking soda works with foods that are acidic, creating lift when the acid is added. If you’re making a cake and its recipe ingredients call for baking soda, you’ll notice some sort of acid added to the ingredient list, like Buttermilk or lemon. If you were to substitute regular milk, your cake might not rise as well, and the taste might be soapy. Buttermilk is acidic and releases the raising power in the baking soda.
If you don’t have buttermilk, add around 10 to 20 ml of lemon juice or vinegar to each cup of milk, leave it for 5 – 10 minutes and voila. Same properties as buttermilk.
To sift or not to sift, that is the question:
Years ago our grandparents (or if you’re younger than me, your great-grandparents) would sift all their flours. It would be for several reasons, some you may not know about. Before bleaching flour, we had problems with weevils and the like so sifting would remove them. Another reason is that in the years before bleached flour was heavier and clumped in the sacks. Sifting would sort this out. Today our flour is a lot different; it has gone through a lot more processing some good some bad. So if your recipe calls for sifting, I’m going to let you decide. For scones, I don’t sift. If my flour is unbleached and it has clumped a little I either give the weighed amount a whisk with a balloon whisk or just with my hands. If I’m making a sponge, I always sift. If you want super light baked goods whisk.
Here are some great pans to cook scones in
These are the pans we use in the cooking school. They’re silicone coated that make them non stick, and the texture in the tin makes them very sturdy without making them too heavy. You can’t put them in the dishwasher, but they’re a breeze to clean anyway.
USA Rectangular Cake Pan – Also great for any tray bake, brownies or I even use it to roast veg in.
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.
USA Biscotti Pan – This is probably a better size for most scone recipes although I always double my batches because they freeze so well.
So, I suppose you want a recipe now?
Here you go this is my go-to recipe when I want to whip up a quick batch of easy scones. Make this a couple of times, and you’ll not have to weigh any more as I do. I go by texture. To take the photos I more than doubled the recipe, so I had a good supply. I had family around and wanted to pop some in the freezer for later.
Bec’s Recipe for Easy Scones
- 125 ml cream
- 300 g Self-raising flour sifted
- 1 pinch Of salt
- 125 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 220C. Place baking paper on a baking tray. Unless you have USA pansthen just pop them straight on the tray.
- Place, flour and salt into a bowl and mix until combined. Gradually add the cream then lemonade and mix until the dough sticks together. Turn out onto a floured board and dust with flour.
- Press the dough into 3 cm thick square. Using a large knife dusted with flour cut the dough into 16 cubes. Round the corners off and arrange in a grid on the baking tray.
- Press the cookie cutter heart into the tops of each scone, brush with milk and bake in very hot oven 10-15mins (tops will brown). 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.
Would you like to see more scone recipes?
I’ve got other posts that have tips in them, you can see them here!
Need more scone recipes why not try these Hummingbird scones