Pastry / Recipe / Savory / Sweet / Uncategorized

The Science of Scones

I used to make these scones everyday, this is the first time in almost a year that I have made them. I worried that they wouldn’t live up to their former glory that they had at Gathering Together but lo and behold, they are perfection.

scone stack

I suppose this perfection is debatable and I am sure this blog has been written by someone else who equally loves their perfect scone, but this one is mine…and lots of other people like it too….and it is amazing, so I have some credit.

Moving to Ireland, I  tried my fair share of Irish Scones. They are all pretty much the same kind of scone: a buttermilk based half drop/half cut-in method, sometimes with currants, but normally plain, and always circle shaped. Where the scone market generally lacks variety it makes up for it in “degrees of goodness”.

The worst is the 2-day old, barely browned on the outside, and a play-doughy texture that is the epitome of the word carb. We’ll call that one the White-on-White-on-Bland Scone. SuperValue sells these in bulk. Then there is the Middle-of-the-Road Scone. This one is nice and crispy on the outside and is served with jam and cream (if you’re lucky) and the inside is just ok, but these babies are really big. Too big in my opinion. The scone becomes the chore, or worse, the leftovers get tossed in a bag to get stale and turn into White-on-White-on-Bland Scones. Then there are scrumptious cream scones served with really yummy things like Orange Blossom Butter and a nice hot coffee. These are called the Brother Hubbard Scones and they only sell these at Brother Hubbard on Capel Street and they are heavenly. That’s my observation of the Irish Scone.

My scone, is none of those, because its not an irish scone, it doesn’t even use cream, and its not cut with a biscuit cutter in circle shapes. Its not an American scone  either(gross, does anyone like a eating a behemoth of sugary doughy floury mass).  My scone is kinda like the cronut because it must be a cross  with something else. I’m just not sure what else it breeds with to become what it is. It is a flaky, really buttery thing that is equally delicious as a savory scone as it is a sweet scone. The recipe is the most versatile recipe I have, and there are a million different ways to make it. Also it is a triangle-ish shape, technically it is a trapezoid, and there is a reason for this. In general I don’t like the circle scones because the center is never as good as the outside bits (like brownies!). So a triangle scone is the answer right? Kinda. Because this scone is so flaky if it only has a point at the “top”, it just falls over, the butter melts out instead of into, and it dries out, then dies out. WahnWahnWahn game over scones. So you need an anchor on the “top”.

bowl of scones

I adapted this recipe from one that we were given in culinary school. This is half of the recipe I used at Gathering Together and it still makes a hefty amount of scones for your average household, so freeze some at the raw state and then just thaw in the fridge before you want to bake them. :)  It has extra egg yolks which I think is the secret.

ALSO, I KNOW that this has weight and all that dull stuff that real bakers do everyday, and I KNOW that you could just go tell Betty Crocker to find you an easier recipe, but there is a reason everyone asked me for this recipe…IT IS GOOD, so get your scale out, suck it up, and make these yummy scones.


The Famous Scone Recipe (yeilds 30 small scones, 15-18 big scones)

Flour                        13 oz
Sugar                       1.5 oz
Salt                           1 tsp
Baking Powder    1 T
Butter,(cold)        6 oz
Add-ins                   up to 6oz
Eggs                         1 oz
Egg Yolks               2 yolks
Milk/Buttermilk/Juice/Whatever Liquid You Want*

-Measure all the dry ingredients in a bowl, and cut up the butter into hazelnut pieces and add it to the dry ingredients. Put that bowl in the fridge while you measure out the eggs and liquid.

-*Get a 1-Cup measuring cup and scale out the egg to just 1 ounce, save the other bit though, that is now your egg wash :)

-Now add the extra yolks to the same cup measure

-Add whatever liquid you are using to this Cup till you reach one Cup of Egg/Milk/Buttermilk/Orange Juice/Sesame Oil(take out some of the butter if you do the sesame oil variation)

-Take your dry ingredients out of the fridge and start squishing the butter into the flour with your fingers. (I KNOW, right now you are saying, ehh I’ll just use my food processor, or worse my kitchenaid, don’t do this, it wont work the way it should. Food processor = too processed chunks of butter, kitchen aid = smeared butter) Keep squishing the pieced till it looks like you have a really good flaky pie dough in your hands. The butter should still be in hazelnut pieces but now they are squished hazelnut pieces of butter. The picture shows what your dry ingredients with the butter should look like.

– Add anything else you want in the scones now: nuts, dried fruit, citrus zest, chocolate chips, cheese, caramelized onions, sesame seeds, kale, spices…

-Now pour in your cup of wet ingredients. Toss lightly to distribute the wet and dry evenly throughout, then turn out onto the counter and pat into a pile, flatten that out and fold it over, flatten it again and fold it over again, do this until most of the dry bits are incorporated into the scone dough and everything mostly sticks together. If your dough is too dry, its possible your butter wasn’t squished enough, this isn’t so bad just keep flattening and folding. If your dough is too wet, it’s possible your butter was squished too much, add some flour, think wishfully, and don’t worry, scones aren’t everyones game, but don’t even think about trying macarons.

Raw scone blockraw scone cuts

-Once you have a good scone “block” shape it into a rectangle and chill it for 10-20 minutes.

-Turn on the oven to 400F/200C

-Cut them in ‘trapezoids’ ;) Or if you are crazy, circles. Or if you are just normal, cut triangles.

-Put em in the oven and watch the magic. The butter turns to steam and makes em rise while bubbling out and making the edges yummy and crispy. I mean butter is really the star here, but shouldn’t it always be the star.

-Small scones take about 10-12 minutes to bake. Big scones about 15-20. Either way rotate them half way and make sure they aren’t getting too brown, but don’t even think about pulling them out early. They need the crispy edge because that is where the flavor is. Crispy edges  are where the doughy, floury flavors disappear.

I love these things. The tiny ones are so addictive, I think I ate 6 of them already. For this batch I made seedy, nutty, nibby scones with chopped dates and made a poached rhubarb compote to go with them, but any jam would be good with them, or just by themselves, with a hot cup of tea.

Plate scone compote


11 thoughts on “The Science of Scones

    • Camille your comment was hiding in my spam folder :/ for the barbeque, check to make sure the bottoms don’t burn, I get the feeling they would get brown first before the tops

  1. Oh man, Ana! I love your writing and your recipes. As sorry as I am that you’re no longer filling the baking case at GTF with your pastries, I am so happy that I can at least get your recipes! I am seriously going to make these scones this weekend.

    • Yay! Rachel! I can’t wait to hear how it goes but more importantly I can’t wait to see the Prickett fam grow with a itty bitty baby :)

  2. **obsessed with reading your blog in your voice (inside my head of course) does that sound strange? I think you know what I mean. You are such a great writer, your posts are fun to read! Anyhow can’t wait to make these little babies! Xxoo

    • Ivy! you made me and Dec both laugh, also everytime we drive by this place called the Ivy Cottage in Doolin we think of you :). Also there should be a folder on the GTF computer called pastries….it has EVERYTHING…I mean EVERYTHING in it :)

  3. I’ll take a dozen of those scones for my next meeting. Can you deliver in an hour on the west side of Lubbock? We’ll fix the coffee.

  4. Pingback: scone thoughts (the rosemary-honey-orange-pecan scones of my dreams) | small thoughts

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