Friday, March 7, 2008

Cream Scones

The very first bite of a fresh baked scone is enough to make you feel like you’ve just had a daydreamy moment in the Royal Palace. There’s something about the light and tender loveliness of homemade scones that is transformative. Sadly, not so with purchased ones.

How many times have you bought a scone and felt less than delighted? OK, most of us can’t count that high. But we keep searching anyway even though we have plenty of empirical evidence that most commercial scones are over-mixed, over baked, frozen hockey pucks that taste like not very much of anything. So hey, here’s the scoop! Scones are definitely one of those pastry items that cannot be mass produced. Great scones require very minimal, very gentle handling, something that’s not possible in a large pastry production environment. But we do love the idea of a scone, don’t we?

Here’s the answer. Inside half an hour, you will be enjoying the most remarkable scones ever. This recipe is from my lovely pastry school teacher years ago, Cathy Burgett. It is the best recipe I’ve ever tried. Truly, these Cream Scones are Dream Scones. Since all the fat comes from cream and not butter, the final product is as soft and comforting as your favorite bedtime pillow. The one you look forward to at the end of a long and harried day. Why not wake up to this little bite of heaven on a plate some lazy weekend morning? You’ll never buy another scone again. Really.

Of course the traditional way to eat a scone is to lavish it with a bit of fresh jam and a dollop of fresh whipped cream, a real jaunt to the Cotswolds. Do try this sometime when you are feeling extra indulgent and no one is looking.

Bench notes:
- Remember this! The secret to great scones is a very light touch when mixing and forming the dough. This recipe requires precious little handling. This non-technique technique is what creates a melt-in-your-mouth tenderness that is the lost memory of The Legend of the Greatness of Sconery.
- This recipe is the purist version. I’ve also tried adding a shake of lemon zest to the cream for a brighter taste. The combination of dried pear, finely chopped crystallized ginger and golden raisins is one of my favorites. And of course the classical addition is dried currants. Just add the extras to the dry mix before adding the cream.
- Due to an oversight in shopping, I once made these with a combination of 3/4 C heavy cream and 1/2 C buttermilk for the liquid with great results.
- Scones are absolutely meant to be eaten fresh out of the oven. For the optimal scone experience worthy of a spot of good Earl Grey straight from the palace, eat them right away.

Cream Scones
Makes 8 scones

2 C flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 C sugar
1 1/4 C heavy cream

1 T melted butter for brushing the tops
sugar for sprinkling the tops

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking pan with either parchment or a silpat.

Sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the cream and stir gently with a fork. Stop mixing when it starts to come together and the cream seems fairly absorbed. Be careful not to overmix. The dough will look loose and lumpy and not like a finished dough.

Pour the mixture onto a lightly floured work surface. Flour your hands a bit and using a very light touch and absolute restraint, begin to gather and gently pat into a 9” circle, taking care to press the edges into a solid border. It will come together just enough to look like it might work. Do not handle very much to achieve maximum tenderness!

Using a lightly dusted bench scraper or sharp knife, cut into 8 scones. Use the bench scraper or a metal spatula to lift the scones gently onto the baking sheet. Be careful as they are very soft and delicate to handle. Brush the tops with a bit of melted butter and a light sprinkle of sugar.

Bake on the middle rack for 15 minutes or until they are golden. Serve immediately. Enjoy the true meaning of scone-iosity.


test it comm said...

Your scones look nice and light and fluffy and good! Freshly baked scones are one of the best things!

pastry studio said...

Kevin! OMG, I just took a look at your blog and I swear I nearly fainted from the incredible deliciousness of your work. Every single thing looks so gorgeous. I must add you to my blogroll.

Thanks so much for stopping by. You really must try the scones! They are definitely a bit of fluffy goodness.

Cannelle Et Vanille said...

Lovely scones... I think I can smell them! I happen to love scones and your recipe seems so easy. I'm writing it down for sure! Great job!

pastry studio said...

Hello aran! Please try them. I just heard from a couple of friends who really loved them and also appreciated the ease of preparation, a winning combo for sure!

Rachel@fairycakeheaven said...

mmmmmmmmmmmmm there's nothing nicer than fresh scones with raspberry jam and cream.

Anonymous said...

Less than half an hour after reading this post, I was pulling a batch of these scones out of my oven. They are sooo good. I made 9 huge scones out of them... and they were all gone within the hour.

Brilynn said...

Those look gorgeous! Perfect with a little jam...

Anonymous said...

What bringeth thou forth?
[I dream of absolution...]
Dear Goddess, Cream Scones.

Anonymous said...

This recipe looks great! I can't wait to give it a try!
I'm from south america and I want to know how to convert the measures (also I'm sort of confused with the meaning of the initials).
Sorry if it's a stupid question, I'm not a professional, just love the pastry and I'm a self-taught person.

Congratulations for your blog, was a great discovery for me. Too sad that I can't find someone like this in spanish.

And sorry for my english. Cheers


pastry studio said...

Fernando! I'm thrilled to have a reader from South America. I'm sorry the recipe was confusing for you. Let me see if I can do a bit of translation for you in metric:

10 ounces flour (283 grams)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 ounces sugar (50 grams)
1 1/4 Cups of heavy cream

1 1/2 ounces butter (43 grams)
1 ounce sugar (28 grams)

I hope this helps! Let me know if you still have questions. Thanks for stopping by, Fernando.

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot!
Also found this page that maybe helps other people confused like me:

And your inspiring texts and beautiful images looks great in RSS too!

Looking forward to see some recipe with "dulce de leche" ;)

pastry studio said...

Thank you, tai and all commenters! I'm so glad you enjoyed them. No more bad scones!

Fernando, I can't tell you how many times I've made dulce de leche. I think about how to find new ways to incorporate it into a new kind of dessert or pastry all the time!

Anonymous said...

About the link in my previous comment (it opens some popups etc, so:) I found a better reference page:

Sorry for the redundance.

And now... I'll go to make cream scones!

Anonymous said...

I'm way late putting this up, and Tai was even faster than I was to try the scones, but I was making them by Sat morning. They were out of this world wonderful, incredibly simple, so versatile, and I'll never buy another scone.

I didn't add any ingredients, but after we made them some got a blackberry sauce drizzled and some got cinnamon and nutmeg sprinkled on, with a little honey. Both were great.

During the prep, my three German shepherd flocked to the kitchen, trying to be noticed. It made for such a nice morning and with so little effort.


pastry studio said...

Mary, thank you so much for the wonderful visual tableau of your kitchen. Blackberries, yes!

Casa Costello said...

These look gorgeous! I must try them! Thanks for posting! Hx

Jesse said...

These scones are THE BEST I've ever had. Hands down.

Anonymous said...

It will be incredibly hard for you to believe this but I recently ordered white chocolate raspberry scones from a place called 'The Sconery.' They were moist, flaky and possibly the best scones that I have ever tasted. They arrived frozen and baked fresh in just 20 minutes. Try them before you knock them!

Lucie said...

I just tried these scones with a little almond extract mixed in and 14% fat cream...amazing!!! Thank you for the wonderful recipe :)

Lucie from bilingual butter

Q said...

Mmm....I am hunting for a good, traditional cream scone recipe to bake scones for Christmas gifts. Planning to package them up with a little jar of homemade lemon curd. These look just perfect.

SGG said...

Why would anyone ever want to "order" anything when cream scones and cream biscuits (same recipe with 1/2 the sugar) are SOOO easy and fast to make. Homemade stuff is ridiculously simple, people. Don't let the marketers fool you. I work 40+ hours a week with kids & I bake regularly. It teaches you serenity & patience--2 things I have often lacked!

These recipes mix together like a dream (they don't need so much coddling, trust me, it's the butter-based recipes that can't handle a 21st century cook), fast & easy. [In the biscuit version, you fold it 3 times to get that nice flaky layer effect, then cut shapes & pop them on a parchment lined pan. Cover with a kitchen towel & freeze, pop them into a plastic bag & pluck out the number you need when you want them. I freeze 1" mini's for the kids' breakfasts. I preheat my oven & pan to 400-450F, put in 6 frozen biscuits, bake 15-20 min. (play with your oven on temps/times) They rise beautifully & are so soul-warming before school.]

I can't wait to do the same with "mini" scones, to go with my teas. THANKS SO MUCH!!

Laurence G. said...

I gave them a try and loved it!

Audrey said...

So light and fluffy. Amazing scones. Definitely bookmarking this recipe.

Nadia said...


I made this cream scone from your recipe and loved it. As I was making this scone again today and realized you didn't add any butter in your recipes, just checking if this is correct or did I miss something.

thank you

pastry studio said...

Hi Nadia. Good question! You'll find lots of scone recipes with butter or a combination of butter and cream. This particular scone is made simply with heavy cream. When cream is the only fat, they scones tend to be lighter and more tender. Glad you enjoyed them!