Getting Ready for a Royal Wedding: Everything You Need to Know about British Scones

How many of you have been to London?

If you haven’t been, is it on your bucket list?

Well, if it is, I will tell you right now that it’s a spectacular place to visit.  It has so much culture, there is no language barrier (if English is your first language) and there are so many pockets to explore that you will want to come back again and again to see every part in it’s entirety.

As of late, Britain has been on the minds of most people around the world.  News of Meghan and Harry’s nuptials has given everyone a reason to brush up on their royal etiquette and even, perhaps, host a very royal breakfast this Saturday when the couple exchange their vows. And, what better breakfast item to serve than some very British scones. Now, some of you may not know the difference between scones and biscuits (or British and North American) so let’s give you a wee lesson.  It is quite confusing (especially if you search online), but as far as I know, these are the differences:

  • scones frequently contains eggs, biscuits do not
  • scones always call for sugar and are generally (but not always) sweeter than biscuits, which calls for much less sugar (or no sugar at all).
  • scones have a heavier and denser characteristic making them more cake-like than biscuits, which have a light, fluffy texture
  • scone recipes utilize more liquid than biscuit recipes
  • scones are usually triangular shaped, biscuits are round (but that is “traditional”…many people go between the two)
  • scones are Scottish in origin, biscuits are often associated with the Southern United states
  • scones often contain dried fruits, biscuits don’t
  • Biscuits and gravy are common, scones and gravy are not

The problem lies in how people name them.  Some people call biscuits scones and scones biscuits.  What I do know is that the North American version is often flavoured and more “dessert like”.  For instance, have you ever had Starbucks pumpkin scones?  I love them (if you do too, check out this post for a copycat version) but they are definitely a sweet treat.

Or how about scones and biscuits that have fresh fruit in them (like my inside out summer peach scones …imagine biting into a scone and finding a bust of summer flavour right in the middle…if you make up a batch of mine, you’ll know exactly what  I mean)?  These are not traditionally British since real “across the pond” scones may have dried currants, but not fresh fruit.

If you pop into a local bakery in London and ask for a proper scone with tea, this is what you’ll get:

A simple scone that has the “telltale” middle piece where the rise of the biscuit makes an almost perfect place to tear open the scone and fill it with a wonderful dollop of strawberry jam and a hearty serving of clotted cream (or whipped cream if you can’t find clotted).

But, having said all of that, don’t let tradition force you out of your creative space…if you would like to try your hand at a savoury scone bite, my recipe for these cute little BLT bites start off with a wee scone that is built into a great teeny sandwich.

So, now that your head is filled with all kinds of scone education, why not try your hand at these simple scones below? They are simple, easy to make and can be frozen and baked off whenever the need for a very proper breakfast arises (bake from frozen and add about 5 extra minutes)!

And, if the upcoming royal wedding is giving you the itch to travel across the pond and you’d like some light reading about London and some of the surrounding areas – including some pics of great scones – take a peak here!!!

Traditional British Scones
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (10 ounces by weight)
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ⅔ cup whole milk or cream (plus extra for pre-baking wash)
  • 1 large egg
  • coarse sugar, optional
  • Strawberry jam or other desired jam, for serving
  • Whipped cream or clotted cream, for serving
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, sugar) a couple times to combine.
  3. Add the butter and pulse again until the butter is completely distributed (you shouldn’t see any chunks of butter - the mixture should have a sandy texture to it); transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk to combine the milk and egg and pour into the mixing bowl with the dry ingredients.
  5. Stir to combine with a spatula, until a rough dough forms.
  6. Transfer to a lightly floured countertop and knead about 5 times until the dough comes together into a relatively smooth ball (do not to knead too much because the dough will be tougher and not rise as high).
  7. Split the dough into 2 portions and form each into a flat disk; cut each disk into 8 pie pieces and place each piece onto parchment or silicone mat lined baking sheet (spread out so the pieces are not touching) and brush the tops with the extra milk/cream.
  8. If you are using sanding/coarse sugar, sprinkle the tops with some sugar before baking.
  9. Bake the scones for 13-15 minutes, until about doubled in height, and golden brown on the tops and bottoms.
  10. Serve with strawberry jam and whipped cream (or clotted cream if you can find it!!)

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