how to make scones in less than half an hour
How to make scones
These scones have always been a fixture in my life. They can be rustled up in minutes with barely any ingredients. They were one of the first things I learned to make and are a great baking activity with children. So many people have learned how to make scones using this recipe and I love seeing all the photos of your afternoon teas and of children getting involved in making them.
Scones are best eaten with an hour of two of them being made. They freeze really well so you can make a batch and have a few more afternoon tea treats to look forward to. Just freeze them once they are cooled and then reheat them in a hot oven for 5 minutes. If reheating from frozen, leave them in for around 7 minutes.
You can find a recipe for lemon curd to go with these here.
Once you learn how to make scones – here’s how to serve them
English scones are lighter and smaller than the scones served in many American coffee shops and are traditionally served with jam and cream. Clotted cream or whipped cream is the ultimate topping if you can get hold of it. I also love them with crème fraiche or cream cheese to add a sour balance to the sweet jam or lemon curd. Not at all traditional but yummy.
How to measure your ingredients
When baking I always use weight rather than cups to measure my ingredients. It is much more precise and, I find, results in much more consistent success. For American readers, the recipe below does have cup measurements too but be aware of the need to not over pack your cup of flour. I’ve written the recipe in order of most accurate first – Metric weight/imperial weight (volume).
How to make scones with children without stressing out
If you’re baking with children, give yourself more than half an hour so that you’re not rushing them or stressing out. Let them use the scales and add the ingredients so they get a sense of how much things weigh. Try not to interfere (I know it’s hard!).
During lockdown I made cookalong videos on instagram where I make the scones all the way through and share all the techniques and tricks – find them here. Watch them before you start and refer back to them for some of the techniques as you cook.
Let them read these instructions if they’re able to. Make sure they read them all the way through before starting and get all the equipment and ingredients out with them.
Talk about why they think that a lot of flour weighs less than a lot of butter and why. Talk about why we add the baking powder (to make the scones rise). Ask them what flavours or toppings they’d like to add next time.
Send the recipe to their friends or grandparents and arrange an afternoon tea over Facetime and get everyone to dress up and drink their tea out of teacups.
Most importantly – let them know they’re in charge of cleaning up. The rule is if you’re going to bake, you have to clean up. Now is a great time to get them into good habits.
- I cut these with cookie/scone cutter rings but you can also use a knife to cut the whole ball of dough into wedges.
- The real key is not to over handle the dough, doing so will reduce the rise and also result in a tougher, less flaky scone
- Cold butter is often the best in pastry but in this recipe you want it to be room temperature to allow you to rub it in without over working the dough. Soften hard butter by leaving it in a warm place or by slicing it thinly and putting it in the microwave for 5-10 seconds.
Ingredients (see substitutions below)
Makes 10-12 scones (depending on the size of your rings and thickness of the scones)
455g (16oz or 3 and 3/4 cups) un-sieved plain (all purpose) flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
113g (4oz or 1 stick) salted butter, at room temperature
55g (2oz or 4 tablespoons sugar
285ml (10 fluid oz) milk, plus a little extra for brushing the finished scones
A pinch of salt
- Zest of 1 lemon or orange
- 110g (4oz) dried fruit – I love sultanas/golden raisins or finely chopped dried apricots, dates or figs
You can buy all this equipment through my online shop.
- Large bowl
- Butter knife
- Baking tray/cookie sheet
- Digital scale or measuring cups and spoons
- Round cookie/scone cutter around 5cm/2 inches across
- Pastry brush (or use your fingers)
- Cooling rack
How to make scones
Remember to watch the cookalong video first to help you with all the techniques find them here.
- Heat the oven to 220°C (200°C fan) 425°F (400°F convection). Put the metal baking tray in the oven to preheat.
- Place the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a large bowl and whisk together.
- Add the room temperature butter and chop it into the flour with a knife.
- With clean hands, rub the flour into the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. The little lumps of butter will not be totally incorporated as it is these lumps that will melt when they are cooked and result in a light flaky scone.
- Use a knife to gently stir any flavours (zest, dried fruit etc) into the flour mixture before gradually adding the milk around the side of the bowl, still stirring with the knife until the dough starts to come together. Finish pulling it together with your hand.
- Scatter a little flour your counter top and lift the dough onto it. Gently pat the dough into a ball then flatten into a circle using your hands or a rolling pin. The dough should be at least 2.5cm (1 inch) thick (close to 4cm/1.5 inch is ideal), any thinner and they won’t rise enough. Try not to overwork the dough at this stage.
- Use a round cutter to cut the scones out of the dough, try to cut straight down and without twisting the cutter as this can reduce how well the scones rise.
- When all the scones are cut out, gently form the leftover dough into a circle and either cut out again or leave as a freeform scone (cooks treat!)
- Place the scones onto the heated tray and brush the tops with milk and sprinkle with a little sugar if you would like a crunchy top
- Cook for around 10-12 minutes until they are golden and tall. They should sound hollow underneath when knocked
- Cool on a wire tray then split and eat with your favourite toppings.
plain (all purpose) flour – use self raising flour but reduce the baking powder to 2 teaspoons
baking powder – if using self raising flour you can leave this out but they won’t rise much so will be heavier
salted butter – unsalted butter but add a quarter teaspoon of fine grain sea salt, or use vegan spread/margarine
milk – plant milk
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