The Tea Party began with a discussion about how you pronounce "scones" = rhyming with "pawns" or "loans" - "pawns" won the day. You'll love this recipe - and see Notes for a recipe for clotted cream!
Despite my love for the pleasant ritual of scones with cream and jam and tea (oh my) - not a lot of scones have come out of my kitchen. Some years ago I tried a recipe that came with rave reviews - scones that featured whipping cream as an ingredient. They were cut into triangles and baked up rather raggedy and, in truth, were heavy - landing in your gut with a kerplunk that echoed the next morning when stepping on the scale. Never made them again. Making these brought to mind questions - are scones the same as biscuits? tea biscuits? shortcake? I do have ancient memories of pairing fresh strawberries with something I made using Bisquick... tea biscuits? shortcake?
Am not even sure I can accurately outline the differences - though for each, the ingredients are very much the same - more or less sweet; biscuits may be made with buttermilk and scones may use heavy cream. The differences seem to have a lot to do with which side of the pond (the Atlantic) one is on. (Do correct me if I've misunderstood...) In America, "biscuits" accompany a breakfast or savoury meal. I have traveled in the southern USA and one routinely sees signs advertising "chicken and biscuits". I think the biscuits do a fine job mopping up gravy. The "non-sponge cake" shortcakes that I used to make with Bisquick did resemble scones.
Choosing a recipe was tough - so many of my trusted sources offered up options. I and my guests were quite impressed with the results from this recipe from America's Test Kitchen. They describe the scones as British-Style - and by that they mean they are less sweet, and use less butter than the typical American scones served with tea. Given that the goal is to smother them with clotted cream and jam - a less sweet scone sounds fine to me - and indeed they were! Scone trivia - is your style Devonshire or Cornish? "The Devonshire method is to split the scone in two, cover each half with clotted cream, and then add strawberry jam on top. The Devon method is also commonly used in neighbouring counties and other Commonwealth countries. With the Cornish method, the warm scone is first split in two, then spread with strawberry jam, and finally topped with a spoonful of clotted cream. This method is also commonly used elsewhere, notably in London." [Source]
Here's the Recipe!
ATK says these can be stored in the freezer and reheated in a 300-degree oven for 15 minutes before serving. Though prep for a tea party can be complex, I decided to make them fresh about an hour before guests arrived. With all ingredients prepped the night before, they came together quickly and baked up in about 12 minutes!
adjust the oven rack to the upper-middle position
preheat oven to 500 F (reduce to 425 F for baking)
remove butter and eggs from the fridge (butter should be softened and eggs should be at room temp for all baking)
measure and combine dry ingredients (could be done day before)
line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment
you'll be briefly using a food processor and then will need a large bowl for hand mixing
2" cookie cutter
3 cups (15 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (2 1/3 ounces) sugar
2 TB baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
8 TB unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and softened
3/4 cup dried currants (optional)
In your food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt until combined - about 5 pulses. Add the butter and pulse until fully incorporated - about 20 pulses. (Unlike what you might do for a pastry, in this case you are aiming for a fine mixture - no visible bits of butter.)
Transfer mixture to a large bowl and stir in currants (if using).
1 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
Whisk the milk and eggs together in second bowl. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the milk mixture. Add the remaining milk mixture to the flour mixture and, using a rubber spatula, fold together until almost no dry bits of flour remain. The dough will be soft and somewhat wet, so flour your hands to ease handling.
Have flour on hand for the work surface, your hands, the rolling pin, and the cookie cutter. Transfer the dough to a well-floured counter and gather it into a ball, kneading 25-30 times until the surface is smooth. Then gently form it into a disk. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the disk into a 9-10" round, about 1 inch thick, and cut out rounds using a cookie cutter. Note that ATK advises that for a tall, even rise, use a sharp-edged biscuit cutter and push it straight down; do not twist the cutter. Scraps can be formed into a ball, kneaded briefly and rolled to create a few more scones.
Size? ATK suggested using a 2 1/2 " cutter, yielding 12 scones. I felt these would be too large. I also admit that I like to enjoy two scones. By using a cutter that was almost 2", the recipe yielded 24 smaller scones - and everyone got to eat two! Lots of experimenting with various jams on offer.
Arrange the scones on the parchment lined, rimmed baking sheets.
Brush the tops of the scones with reserved milk mixture. Reduce the oven temperature to 425 F and bake until risen and golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through baking. Transfer scones to wire rack and let them cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve scones warm or at room temperature.
Of course, you know the deal - serve these with jam and/or salted butter and/or clotted cream. (See Notes below.)
Notes and Tips...
Salt - read my "salt" tips; for now I am assuming that if a recipe does not specify the type of salt, then they must mean table salt; here are some equivalencies; 1 tsp table salt (fine salt) = 1 1/2 tsp Morton (Windsor) kosher salt = 2 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt; or use 1 tsp sea salt.
Milk - ATK prefers whole milk but say low fat milk could be used.
Currants - I like them, but didn't use them in the scones
Cream - my deli sells "English Double Devon Cream" and also "English Luxury Clotted Cream". I should have bought both to check out the difference, but I only got the Devon Cream. Of course, it was great, but surprisingly quite thick - like a super thick, buttery Greek yogurt - and very rich tasting. I began to worry there would not be enough cream and instead of simply whipping some heavy cream, I made this homemade version [Source] of "Devon" cream - it was so good, and I preferred it to the fancy one I bought. I made a tiny modification, and combined 1/2 cup whipping cream and 1/2 cup sour cream and 1 TB icing sugar. Whip the cream to soft peaks, then the add sugar and sour cream and continue to whip until light and fluffy. I made this the day before, but because it collapsed a wee bit - next time would make it day of. A fellow blogger - Barry from Newfoundland's Rock Recipe offers up his own method for making homemade clotted cream.
Make Ahead - These scones are best served fresh, but leftover scones may be stored in the freezer and reheated in a 300-degree oven for 15 minutes before serving.
For KB Recipe Attribution Practices please click here.