Is it a Scone or a Biscuit
The difference between a traditional English scone and an American style biscuit is simple. Traditional English scones are enriched with eggs while American style biscuits are not. With the addition of egg, the English Scone will rise a bit more than its American counterpart.
Whether it’s a scone or a biscuit, both are versatile. While typically served with homemade clotted cream and strawberry preserves, both are equally delicious with a good quality butter. However, I’ve often served American style biscuits with ham and cheese or as the foundation for breakfast sandwiches. Traditional English Scones can pull double duty as well. They are addictive and thankfully, easy to make.
Many traditional English recipes call for cream flour which is very similar to Bisquick in the United States. Cream flour is a premix of plain flour and self-rising leaveners. My mother made traditional English scones for her restaurant, adding plump raisins or currants common in many of the variations found in the UK.
This recipe is basic, but adding raisins, sultanas, or red or black currants is a great option. Rumor has it that this is the same scone recipe used at Buckingham Palace, which is all the provenance it needs. If this recipe is fit for the Queen, then who am I to argue?
Delicious traditional English scones with strawberry jam, clotted cream and tea.
Tea pairing: Lavender Earl Grey, Twinings Pure Rooibos Red
Traditional English Scone
- measuring spoons and cups
- food processor fitted with large blade
- medium to large mixing bowl
- cutting board or clean work surface
- rolling pin
- 2 ¼" (6 cm) plain round cookie/dough cutter
- baking sheet pan
- pastry brush
- wire cooling rack
- 4 cups flour, all purpose
- 6 tsp baking powder
- ½ cup sugar, granulated/caster unrefined
- ½ cup butter, unsalted good quality, cut into small squares and super chilled
- 2 whole eggs, large, beaten
- ½ cup buttermilk, very good quality (I prefer to use the separated and leftover milk from making clotted cream)
- ¼ tsp salt, kosher or sea
- 1 egg yolk and a pinch of salt for brushing
- extra flour for dipping cookie cutter
- Preheat oven to 425°F/218°-220°C
Prepare the dough (food processor)
- Cut the butter into cubes as shown in the images above and place in the freezer for 20 minutes.
- While the butter is setting up prepare a food processor with the large cutting blade and work bowl. Measure out the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar and salt). Add the dry ingredients to the work bowl.
- Once the butter is super chilled, add it to the food processor with the dry ingredients and pulse the machine until the butter is incorporated. Add the mixture to a large mixing bowl. Reserve.
- Combine the wet ingredients by adding the cracked eggs to another small/medium bowl with the buttermilk. Whisk the wet ingredients until just incorporated. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Using a combination of rubber spatula at first and then gloved/floured hands, gently mix the wet and dry together until a dough forms. (Tip: Cover with plastic wrap to keep from drying out if you aren't going to cut out the scones immediately.)
- On a lightly floured work surface, turn out the soft dough and knead briefly to bring the dough together in a uniform shape. Avoid overworking the dough as this will cause the scones to be tough.
- Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to 3/4"/2cm thick.
- Bake at 425°F/218°-220°C on the center rack in the oven for 10 minutes. Rotate the sheet pan and bake for another 10 minutes until golden brown. Cool the scones on a wire rack for approximately 10-15 minutes before serving.