What is a scone?
A scone is a traditional British roll served at tea time. Generally made from wheat or oat meal, the scones are prepared in quantity and are then baked together in a very hot oven.
They can be glazed with butter, using a mixture of egg yolk and milk or with icing sugar for a shiny end result. You can enjoy them with a cup of black tea or a typical Devonshire cream tea. They can be garnished with fresh butter, jam, clotted cream or fresh fruits such as strawberries or other berries. In the United Kingdom, when you order a cream tea, you will always receive tea, cream and scones.
Although scones are available everywhere in supermarkets in the UK, people continue to prepare them at home for tea because they are inexpensive. Scones are also much better when they are fresh.
How to make scones
Scones are very simple to prepare. Combine the flour, sugar, yeast and salt and add the butter. The mixture should be sandy as for a shortbread pastry dough. Cold milk is gradually incorporated while working the dough. The dough should be slightly sticky. It must rest for two minutes on a floured work surface and then rolled to about one inch between two sheets of parchment paper.
The scones can then be cut into discs using a glass or a cookie cutter. It is important to space the scones on the baking sheet. They can then be browned with a mixture of egg and milk and baked for 12 to 15 minutes at 430 F. The scones must rise and be golden. Ideally, they should be served while still warm.
What is the origin of scones?
The word scone may have various origins, as mentioned in the Oxford English Dictionary. Indeed, the word could be directly derived from classical Scottish. It is also very close to the Dutch words schoonbrood whose shape is similar. Schoon means clean or pure.
In Scottish Gaelic, the name is sgoon and refers to a big mouthful and that of scone refers to an important Scottish town of the same name and once capital of the kings of Scotland. The origin could also be German with the word schöne (“fine” bread).
Originally, only one large bread of this name was prepared, which was then cut into individual triangles. Today, this round loaf is called bannock and the scones are directly prepared in the shape of a circle or triangle.
What are the other versions of scones?
If the scone is usually sweet, it can also be savory and accompany sausages or beans. It can also be garnished with cheese. If sweet, it can be garnished with raisins, candied cherries, citrus zest or dates. The Scots prepare it with potato.
In New Zealand, scones are prepared directly on a hot plate and not in an oven.
Scone breads are found in all the former British colonies, such as Australia, where they are served with pumpkin puree. They can also be fried and then bear the name puftaloons. In North America, they were once served with coffee, but they are not very popular now and they are starting to disappear.
In Hungary, there are German pogasca or pogatsche. These same-shaped breads are accompanied by fresh cheese and dill for breakfast.
With the massive spread of Anglo-Saxon culture around the world, scones have also been exported where they are not expected, as in Japan or France. Indeed, there is a chain of tea shops in Japan that offers them along with other typically British products. Parisian hotels also offer scones, as well as club sandwiches, at tea time.
- 2 cups flour
- 4 teaspoons caster sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup cold milk (or more)
- 1 egg yolk , beaten with 1 tablespoon of cold milk
- Flour (to dust the work surface)
Preheat the oven to 430 F / 220 C.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Mix.
- Add the butter.
- Rub the mixture with your fingertips to break the butter and reduce everything to a sandy mixture. This step can be done using the electric mixer at medium speed.
- Begin to knead using the flat beater. Incorporate the milk gradually, until you get a dough that is a little sticky.
- Take the dough out of the bowl using a spatula and place it on a floured work surface.
- Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour and knead for 2 minutes.
- Spread the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper to a thickness of about one inch.
Cut out 2½ inch (6 cm) circles of dough with a glass or a cookie cutter.
- Place the dough circles, evenly spaced out, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Brush them gently with the mixture of egg yolk and milk.
- Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the scones are puffed and golden.