English Style Scones
These English Style Scones bake up light, tall and fluffy, and are a wonderful treat for breakfast or afternoon tea. Spread them with jam, clotted cream, butter, or simply eat them plain. They’re so delicious!
To this day, if you go to my childhood home and open up the refrigerator, you will find bags of scones in there, made by a bakery called Sconehenge. Located in Berkeley, California, I devoured these absurdly delicious scones all throughout my childhood.
My dad still has access to these scones since he lives in the Bay Area, but it has been 11 years since I lived in California.
As in, my enjoyment of them has been limited to brief Christmas and summer visits.
I remember a few years ago I tried to recreate these scones, and searched the internet endlessly with phrases like “Sconehenge recipe,” Sconehenge copycat recipe” and “how to make Sconehenge scones.”
Nothing came up. It made me crazy!!! I couldn’t figure out how these scones were so different…soft, fluffy, pillows of wonder.
I took one bite and thought, THIS TASTES LIKE SCONEHENGE!
Then the “duh” moments poured in. Sconehenge…a riff on Stonehenge…which is in England…oh gosh.
The things you realize AFTER the dots have been connected.
Well, the good news is now I know how to make these delightful scones. They’re English style!
English scones are made differently from American scones, and instead of being stiff and dry, they’re fluffy and soft. A lot of people think these look like biscuits, and they kind of do, but they’re prepared quite differently.
How to make English Scones:
Start by placing all-purpose flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar in a food processor, then add softened butter:
That’s the first difference between English style scones and both biscuits and American-style scones. Biscuits and American scones both use cold butter that’s rubbed or “cut” into the dry ingredients.
Pulse the food processor ingredients until the softened butter is well incorporated into the flour.
You see that unlike a pie crust, we don’t have big pieces of butter in the flour.
Rather, it has a sandy, soft texture:
Dump this mixture into a large mixing bowl.
Whisk together milk and an egg, save 2 tbsp for the egg wash later, then add the rest to the dry ingredients:
Stir together with a spatula, then when it’s roughly combined, dump it onto the counter:
The mixture will be wet, but resist the urge to add too much excess flour, since this will make the scones drier.
Lightly flour the dough, then knead it until it smooths out a bit, just a few times:
You can see that it’s still sticky, and there are bits sticking to my counter. Again, this is important for a hydrated dough, a soft texture, and good rise.
As with anything involving flour, try not to knead too much, or excess gluten will develop and make the scones tough, and also prevent them from rising as high.
Roll the dough about an inch thick:
Use a 2.5″ cutter to cut circles, then place them on a silicone mat lined baking sheet. Make sure not to twist the cutter at all when cutting the circles. Push straight down, otherwise they won’t rise as tall.
How to freeze scones:
If you want, you can freeze the unbaked scone circles, then when you’re ready to eat, bake from frozen at the same temperature for about 5 extra minutes.
You can also just freeze completely baked scones, and let them thaw to room temperature when you’d like to eat them. Bread and baked goods tend to freeze beautifully.
Before baking, brush with the reserved egg wash:
After a trip into the oven, they’ll be puffed and golden brown:
Serve with strawberry jam (here’s a quick strawberry jam recipe I have), and clotted cream for extra bonus points.
Butter is of course lovely too.
What if my dough is too sticky? As noted above, it’s normal for the dough to be a little bit sticky, but it should still be workable. If it’s not workable, this is probably either because there’s not enough flour, or the butter got too warm. So first, try to weigh the flour if possible. There is already so much variation between cup measuring and brands, and weighing the flour will help ensure proper proportions. Next, try to assess if the dough needs more flour, or if it’s too warm. For example, if the butter you used is softened above 70 degrees F (or if you used the microwave softening feature for a bit too long), the butter may be too warm by the time you’re working with it. Popping the dough into the fridge will firm the butter slightly, and may help you roll it out. Or, you can add just enough flour to the outside to roll it out, then cut the pieces.
How to reheat scones: Bake in a 300F oven for 5-10 minutes, until warmed through. You can also cut them in half and toast them.
Can scones be made ahead? Yes. Like any baked good, these are best fresh, but they’re still fantastic the next day. Reheat them per the instructions above, or bake from frozen.
How to freeze scones: You can either freeze scones baked or unbaked. To freeze baked scones, let them cool to room temperature, then freeze in an airtight bag for up to 2 months. To freeze unbaked scones, make the recipe up to cutting the dough circles, then bake the circles straight from frozen for 5 extra minutes, or until cooked through.
Why did my scones not rise as high as yours? First, make sure you’re using fresh baking powder, one that has been opened less than 6 months ago. Also, if you knead the dough too much, the scones won’t rise as tall. Knead gently, and just enough to bring the dough together. Adding more flour also prevents the dough from rising as high, so only dust lightly.
How long will scones keep? At room temperature, for a few days. In the fridge, for a couple weeks. In the freezer, a couple months.
What to serve with scones: Jam, clotted cream, and butter are my favorites.
Here’s a video I made for the scones, if you’d like some more visuals on the process:
English Style Scones
For the Scones:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (10 ounces by weight)
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2/3 cup whole milk
- 1 large egg
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- In a food processor, pulse the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar a couple times to combine.
- Add the butter and pulse 7-10 times until the butter is completely distributed. You shouldn’t see any chunks of butter, and the mixture should have a sandy texture to it. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- In a small bowl, whisk to combine the milk and egg. Save 2 tbsp of it for the egg wash later, and pour the rest into the mixing bowl with the dry ingredients.
- Stir to combine with a spatula, until a rough dough forms.
- Transfer to a lightly floured countertop and knead about 10 times until the dough comes together into a relatively smooth ball. Take care not to knead too much, or the dough will be tougher and not rise as high.
- Roll the dough about an inch thick and use a 2.5″ cutter to cut about 7 circles. Re-roll the scraps and cut out another 2.
- Place the scones onto a parchment or silicone mat lined baking sheet and brush the tops with the reserved egg wash.
- Bake the scones for 13-15 minutes, until about tripled in height, and golden brown on the tops and bottoms. Enjoy!
Post updated in November 2018. Originally published August 2015.