Considering our blog name is “Scones and Doughns,” you can imagine how much we love scones in our house. Xak in particular loves making scones for any occasion. When we aren’t planning afternoon teas, we regularly partake in cream teas: a snack consisting of a cup of tea, and a hot scone with clotted cream, jam, or occasionally butter.
Xak has made tons of scones over the years in a wide variety of flavors and shapes, including his Sabbatical Fig scones. His technique has been refined and improved to the point where he consistently delivers reliable delicious scones with every batch.
American and British Scones
In American coffee shops, the scones are often triangular, quite large, and meant to be eaten standalone with no additional condiments since they’re already sweet. I’ve seen some several different flavors like cinnamon, chocolate chip, blueberry, or pumpkin drizzled with icing in the Starbucks pastry window.
When taking afternoon tea, scones are usually much different and resemble more of an American biscuit, minus the flakiness. They are often a smaller round-ish shape (although sometimes they can look a bit blobby). These scones can also have special flavors to them, but most of the ones I’ve eaten in a tea room have sultanas or currants with the sweetness deriving from the jam or preserves that get piled on top of the ripped scone.
While I like both types of scones, I prefer the British scone because I really just like having an excuse to eat clotted cream and jam. Luckily, Xak is similar and his go-to recipe are cream scones from the Downton Abbey Afternoon Tea Cookbook. He makes this type of scone for most of our afternoon teas including our upcoming Murder mystery “Casual Tea” where we celebrate watching the new Hannah Swensen movie “A Zest for Death” on the Hallmark channel.
When I first heard the term “cream scone”, I thought that it simply meant “a scone eaten with clotted cream” which is not the case. It actually means that the scone has no eggs and no butter. The only liquid is heavy cream. Of course, I still like to think it means the pile of clotted cream you can put on it. 😋
What is Clotted Cream?
The first time I saw the term “clotted cream” I was apprehensive because I thought it had something to do with “blood clots.” In reality, the name comes from the preparation of cream being heated with steam and then slowly cooled with clots forming on the surface. The cream is thick with a high fat content meaning it tastes extremely good!
Clotted cream is also sometimes referred to as Devonshire Cream in tea rooms. While true clotted cream might be hard to find in America, there are ways to prepare it yourself which we are eager to try! For now though, you can hopefully find a jar in the European section of your local grocery store.
Making the Scones
I’ve seen scones as a challenge a few times on Great British Bake Off. While these challenges might seem “easy” to most spectators, I was horrified at the thought of making an identical batch of perfect scones, heavily scrutinized by the well informed eyes of Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood.
Xak likes to use a set of round, fluted cutters he received from his grandmother. They come in different sizes depending on how big we want our scones to be. The larger the cutter, the larger the scone surface area will be to pile on strawberry jam. The smaller the cutter, the more scones I can eat. You can see how choosing the cutter size can be a tough decision.
Although the cutters can help provide some uniformity across the scones, sometimes they will still have a mind of its own. The good news is, we aren’t entering any baking competitions and oddly misshapen scones still taste delicious.
From start to finish, Xak can reliably whip up freshly baked scones in around 30 minutes. This is great for planning out our afternoon teas since a hot fresh scone straight from the oven is an absolute delight. Scones are typically the last thing we make before we settle down for our first cup.
Unfortunately, Xak can’t always bake fresh batches every time we want a scone with tea. The next best thing is to pop any leftover scones into the air fryer at a low temperature for a couple of minutes. It doesn’t taste exactly the same straight from the oven, but it’s still delicious!
Since we were preparing for our Murder Mystery “Casual Tea”, I was in the process of making chicken sandwiches, cucumber sandwiches, and finishing the lemon bars. I was worried about the timing for our KitchenAid mixer because it was currently in use with lemon bar filling while our two hand mixers were being used to make the sandwich fillings. Luckily, Xak assured me that he didn’t need a mixer to make the scones.
The recipe calls for a few ingredients: heavy cream, flour, milk, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Sometimes we add currants, but not always. For our “Casual Tea”, we decided against the currants. Egg white is also brushed on top for a nice golden brown top. You’ll have a few egg yolks leftover which we like to use for chocolate mousse. 😋
The scone dough ingredients come together by hand, and is formed into a ball and rolled out until it reaches a certain thickness. After making the tough decision on what size your scones should be, you use your selected cutter and place the circle of scone dough onto a baking sheet.
Repeat the process with the remaining dough until you have a tray full of scone circles, ready to be baked.
Before popping them into the oven, Xak also brushes the top of the scone with a mixture of egg white and water to create an egg wash that turns into a delectable looking golden brown on the scone. The final step is to lightly sprinkle the top with a little bit of sugar.
Into the oven they go, and in about a short 10 or so minutes, delicious lightly golden brown scones come out.
While Xak and I have devoured plenty of delicious scones together, this recipe is my personal favorite and I definitely look forward to our afternoon teas at home just for these scones!
Next up: Lemon Bars
Recipe Rating and Reviews
Recipe Used: Cream Scones from the Downton Abbey Afternoon Tea cookbook