Truly great scones

Posted on May 2, 2009 by Aun

For most guys, scones aren’t exactly the food of our childhoods. They’re things our girlfriends and sisters, mothers and especially our grandmothers, ate. There is absolutely nothing masculine about sitting down for tea and scones. Which meant that for the majority of us boys, during our childhood, it would have been up there with cooties, a trip to the dentist and a haircut. Of course, as we age we get a little wiser and at some point, hopefully a little more genteel. We’re also prone to do anything for the gals in our lives that we love (or think we love) and want to impress. Even if that means sitting through an oh-so-civilized afternoon tea when all we really want to do is hang out with the boys and make fart jokes.

Now, here’s the thing. Most of the scones I have tried throughout my life have been seriously underwhelming. And I’m willing to wager most of my male peers have had similar experiences. I mean, it’s tough enough to sit calmly in an overly romantic and all too prissy atmosphere, string quartet doing serious injustice to Vivaldi, while you sip your Darjeeling from an insanely delicate porcelain cup you’re afraid you’re going to break, all the while trying not to let your significant other have the slightest inkling that you’d rather be in a T-shirt and jeans, throwing back beers and playing video games. You’d hope at the very least that the food you’re being forced to eat — and eat properly (cut scone, spread cream, dollop jam) — wouldn’t taste like dried up cardboard. But most of the scones I’ve tasted, unfortunately, have been hockey puck hard, dry, and spectacularly unappealing.

Women, however, continue to love them. Or at least love the romantic and nostalgiac notion of enjoying them in equally romantic and nostalgiac settings. Or maybe our sisters and our wives and our daughters and mothers have more faith and patience than we men. Maybe, having had a truly great scone at some point in their lives, they have no problem patronizing dozens of mediocre afternoon tea joints hoping for just one more bite of a perfect scone. Women are, it should go without saying (and unlike us guys), willing to put up with an almost unmeasurable amount of crap in the hope of finding something true and good (they put up with us after all).

And a great scone, a really well-made scone, a scone that is buttery and soft and light and yet still firm all at once, is something rather wonderful. And unforgettable. I can count on one hand the number of times I have had that pleasure and fortune. A great scone, served with good quality (clotted) cream and a homemade jam, is nothing less than a work of art. Unfortunately, finding a great scone, as I’ve tried to establish earlier, is like finding a needle in a haystack. The best thing to do, S and I have decided after years of fruitless scone sampling, is to make our own.

The best recipe we’ve found to date comes from the amazing Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours. The scones that we’ve been able to make using Ms Greenspan’s fabulous and surprising easy recipe are magnificent. They are light, rich, hearty, savoury, just a touch sweet, and just plain delicious. And the best thing is that I can have them whenever I want, wearing whatever I want, listening to whatever I want, and drinking them with whatever I want.

Cream Scones
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours
Makes 12 scones

1 large egg
2/3 cup cold heavy cream
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
1/2 cup currants

Preheat your oven to 200 Degrees Celsius. Ensure you have a rack placed in the middle position in the oven. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

In a small bowl or measuring jug, mix the egg and the cream. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Add the butter pieces into this one at a time, using your fingers to toss the butter in the flour mix. Then, using your fingertips, crush and rub the butter into the flour as quickly as possible. You’ll end up with small tiny pieces in different sizes, but that’s fine.

Quickly pour the egg and cream into the mixing bowl. Using a fork, stir until everything just comes together. Keeping the dough in the bowl, knead it by hand or use a silicone spatula to turn it a half a dozen to a dozen times. Stir in the currants.

Dust a suitable work surface or a counter and turn the dough out onto it. Divide it in half. Working with one piece at a time, pat the dough into a rough circle that is about 12-13cm in diameter. Cut it into 6 wedges and place them on the baking sheet. Repeat with the other piece. Bake the scones for 20 minutes of so, or until the tops are golden and just firm. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his bouncing baby boy!

What Others Are Saying

  1. Dawn May 2, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    Scones are very Brit. Perhaps that’s why most Singaporean eateries don’t do it right. Done well, they can be gorgeous, hot and fluffy with fresh cream and preserves.

  2. OysterCulture May 2, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    I look forward to trying your scone recipe, because I agree with you that most scones are underwhelming – another great resource is the Cheeseboard’s Cookbook. The Cheeseboard is like an institution here in the Bay Area. Gotta run, must dash out and get some clotted cream to go with my endeavors.

  3. Alisa - Frugal Foodie May 2, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    I love the egg effect, so neat! Oddly enough, my husband introduced me to scones many years ago, he has always loved them!

  4. JT May 2, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    no good scones in sg at all??

  5. Wong May 3, 2009 at 4:01 am

    I’ve been following your blog with much interest! Can you also suggest how to make (or where to buy) the clotted cream?

  6. Yvonne Woi May 3, 2009 at 8:28 am

    Funny take on scones from both genders’ perspectives! S must have done some justice on you… LOL!

    I always love Ms Greenspan’s recipes. This sounds like a keeper. Did you use KA mixer to make these scones?

    At first glance, I thought you served half-boiled egg on scones… It was then I realized that my poor vision has played a trick on me :P

  7. JY May 3, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Haha surprisingly the only good scones I managed to find in Singapore are the ones from Four Leaves bakery.. Though cheap, the texture and butter content are just right! Not sure what’s your opinion on those?

  8. kenneth wong May 3, 2009 at 11:21 am

    Thanks for your post. Strange but I have always loved scones & don’t think of it as something feminine. Paired with the aforementioned clotted cream & homemade jam, it is pure bliss. Plus a good cup of tea, some finger sandwiches & scrumptious cake, it takes on the makings of a great meal!!

    Substitute buttermilk for the heavy cream as it takes on a whole new dimension & do brush some milk on the scones before baking. It gives a nice glaze. Also the traditional scones are not cut into wedges as you indicate but made using a cutter. I only see that done in the US oddly enough but am sure it’s all good. Proof of the pudding is in the eating. Have a great weekend!

  9. NC May 3, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    Someone introduced me to Lemonade Scones – which are more typically Anzac than Brit – and they are dead easy. No butter, just fizzy lemonade (7-up or Sprite), self-raising flour, cream, salt and sugar.

  10. Cheryl L. May 3, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    I lurve scones! The best i have had in Sg is at Foster’s. I order takeaway & get the Devonshire Brandy clotted cream & strawberry jam from Culina.. pretty darn good =)

  11. Wan May 3, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    hi,

    anybody can find a clotted cream that is close to the devonshire kind in sg? the ones that i have tried (incidentally devonshire brand) does not even come close.

  12. Mrs Ergül May 3, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    While the ingredients of my scone recipe rings familiarity to that of Dorie Greenspan’s, the methods are starkly different. I will have to give yours a try soon!

  13. Jen May 4, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Man oh man, the clotted cream and gooey jam look the perfect pair for these scones. Thanks for the recipe! My man has a weakness for maple scones, but I’d like to mix it up a bit.

  14. Toasted Special May 5, 2009 at 12:40 am

    What a fantastic homage to the scone. Made some myself recently but they didn’t turn out as well as yours obviously did! :(

  15. adel May 5, 2009 at 3:26 am

    Staying in Ireland, I am fortunate to have lovely good scones all around.. This recipe would start myself off to baking as I don’t usually bake. Nice job!

  16. Its Not You Its Brie May 5, 2009 at 8:09 am

    I haven’t yet found anything in her cookbook that doesn’t work, and those cream scones just look sexy. They might even be more masculine if you made them with bacon and cheese…. a manly cheese like cheddar or beemster.

  17. SydneyCider May 5, 2009 at 10:45 am

    My English wife introduced me to scones and tea back in 2001. They were never something I had growing up. I think a fresh out of the over scones have a beautiful simplicity about them. I liked adding vanilla seeds into the cream, and having a berry jam with them, like raspberries or mulberries. I think berry hams taste better than marmalades with scones. But you’re right, there is something feminine about the delicacy of the scone :)

  18. e-woks May 7, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Yummy.

  19. gobsmack'd May 8, 2009 at 4:42 am

    Its 2009! Enough with the sexual stereotyping already! How can generations of male Brits and subsequent emigrated offsprings be feminine just because they scoff down scones at teatime?

  20. V May 8, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    It’s like you’re peeking into my mind! First it was the noodle and now scones! Those are the things I’ve tried and continuously failed. Can’t wait to try this recipe so my husband doesn’t have to accompany me to some girly cafe with space issue and pastel-coloured, mismatched wooden furnitures. I’m sure he’ll thank you.

  21. Michelle Burns May 9, 2009 at 12:36 am

    I’ve found that there are two types of scones, biscuit style scones which are drier and crumblier, and cream scones which are lighter and more cake like. I really prefer the latter more moist type. The best recipe I’ve found is the lemon cream scones in “The Village Baker’s Wife” by Gayle Ortiz.

  22. Rebekka May 9, 2009 at 8:14 am

    Leave it to that Dorie, right? I LOVE this recipe, and pretty much everything she does.

  23. zura May 9, 2009 at 10:38 am

    For most Asians, scones aren’t exactly the food of our childhoods.

  24. Leila May 9, 2009 at 10:49 am

    I like the fact that scone is such a simple snack which can be accompanied by jams & creams. Though I have to say that scones have never been apart of my childhood. Unfortunately, my grandmother, parents, aunts & uncles who grew up when Singapore was still the Malaya only ate goreng pisang.

  25. The Purple Foodie May 10, 2009 at 2:27 am

    I have loved almost all of Dorie’s recipes that I’ve tried. Not this one though, really looking forward now that it’s got two thumbs up from you.

  26. Recipe man May 10, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    wow this looks yum! i love scones with jelly and cream thanks

  27. Puregraffiti May 11, 2009 at 12:06 am

    For clotted cream, try Jones the Grocer in Dempsey Hill. Unfortunately, they don’t serve very good scones there.

  28. MODman May 11, 2009 at 11:00 am

    I love the comfort food. I am a big fan of our biscuits here. Sorry for not dropping in for awhile, I have been working some crazy hours at d Bar with Chef Keegan Gerhardt. Good to be back.

  29. Lesley May 12, 2009 at 2:48 am

    heavy cream is the KEY to yummy, lovely scones (i’m sure you already knew that). my mom is an avid baker, so i grew up eating scones..they continue to be my one of my favorite sweets. extremely easy to make, and delicious results!

    p/s: maybe a lot of bakers don’t use heavy cream b/c it’s more expensive than regular milk (??)

  30. Chemicality May 16, 2009 at 4:36 am

    My stepdad occasionally makes scones the US way (wedges), but since we live in Texas, I suppose that’s normal. He found a lemon scone recipe once and he uses that as a base when he’s experimenting with different types. Recently he made a really good one with white chocolate and macadamia nuts. He’s had a few failures, but he does pretty well most of the time. So far though, we’ve never had clotted cream or jam/jelly with them, and they’ve been just fine. I dunno if that makes a difference though, I’m just a Texan. Lol.

  31. huishi May 17, 2009 at 1:44 am

    hey! huishi here frm edb. only just saw your house featured on design*sponge. it’s gorgeous! :)

  32. Wheeler's Crew May 24, 2009 at 6:21 am

    The scones looks delish, do you know how I could make this vegan?

  33. Henny Scott May 26, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    I don’t compromise when it comes to scones and only love truly great ones. The best ones I had was at the afternoon tea at Al Fayrooz Lounge at Al Qasr hotel which is part of Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai. It’s so buttery and my favourite is the fresh apricot scone.

  34. food-4tots June 3, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Your scones look awesome! Scone is my family’s favourite. Will definitely give your recipe a try. ;)

  35. Mei June 11, 2009 at 12:07 am

    i reckon the clotted cream at Cold Storage is pretty decent. And the best scones ever used to be from ShangriLa. They used to melt in your mouth and smell & taste something special. Nowadays tho i think the receipe has changed, and the scones taste quite normal. Sure miss those yummies. Maybe this receipe will do it… will try = )

  36. margaux June 27, 2009 at 3:06 am

    Ah! That was hilarious! I’ve had your site bookmarked for a while, but I’m only now really exploring and it’s great!
    And thanks for finding the perfect scone – I’ve been searching for ages! ;)

  37. Reggie July 12, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    Scones are ideally eaten fresh from the oven, so it’s hard for cafes to serve the best. But I haven’t had a decent scone in a cafe in 10 years in SG. Usually they’re hard and/or crumbly, and some places even make them in moulds (witness my never-to-be-repeated experience at Fosters). As several have noted above, they should be moist and a bit fluffy. As for being girly, there would thousands of burly farmers from Australia and NZ – the kind that carry a sheep under each arm – who might want you to step outside and say that.

  38. Addy July 19, 2009 at 1:33 am

    Shall give the recipe a go sometime. But for sure-fire quick fixes, I go for the scones at Tea Party at Sixth Ave Centre. Personally I love the chocolate chip scones. It’s a mix between a cookie and a muffin if you know what I mean. On a recent visit, I was pleasantly surprised that the homemade clotted cream is now strawberry-flavoured! Perfect combi! Do give it a shot.

  39. princess ci July 28, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    i really enjoyed reading this post…just the description of the scones whet my appetite for it. i’ve had scones around town but now only settles for mum’s baking. she uses a delia smith recipe and it’s really very good. i think that recipe has buttermilk in it. she enjoys baking scones so i will definitely hand her over the recipe recommended by you. thanks a ton CH :)

  40. Mrs Ergül October 6, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    One try was all it took to convert me to this recipe. And I have never looked back since. I have already made it countless times.

  41. Aaron October 30, 2009 at 5:01 am

    Are you KIDDING me? There is nothing effeminate about scones! I have never even heard of that distinction of only those of us with vaginas absolutely obssess and desire scones over us males! Perhaps your own experience in misogyny has led you to this, but I dig scones and would never think I looked like a chick eating one and enjoying it.

  42. Bronwyn October 30, 2009 at 11:23 am

    How strange. Here in New Zealand scones are what your mother whipped up for part of a quick lunch, and date scones are right up there with apple pie on every man’s list of favourite foods.

  43. jim November 1, 2009 at 11:52 pm

    i love scones
    sounds like a good idea , while drinking my english breakfast tea in my fine bone china cup , listening to vivaldi , out in the garden
    some beers would fit as well , although in the evening time by the fire listening to some bluegrass music , life doesnt get any better

  44. Håkan November 15, 2009 at 7:55 am

    Are those UK cups or US cups? We think in decilitres here and I’d just want to check for conversion. The recipe looks real good though, thanks for sharing!

  45. S November 21, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Dear Hakan,

    THey are US cups :)

    S

  46. Fionna April 5, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    I would like to recommend Wooden Spoon at Shaw Tower. This shop serves very yummy scones.

  47. Georgia Pellegrini December 16, 2010 at 1:24 am

    Scones hold a special place in my heart, there is nothing better then grabbing a scone, fresh out of the oven, and slathering it in butter or your favorite jam. This season I have become obsessed with cranberry jam with cointreau and I am always looking for things to eat it with!

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