Introduction: Scones

About: I've worked for Instructables off and on since 2006 building and documenting just about everything I enjoy doing. I am now the Creative Programs founder and manager for Autodesk and just finished building out…

Scones are incredibly delicious morning pastries that are a sweet addition to breakfast or brunch, or enjoyed anytime with a cup of tea or coffee. While some bakeries make some good scones, homemade scones, when made well, will far surpass your expectations of what a scone could ever be.

The two recipes in this Instructable, a cranberry lemon scone, and an apricot orange ginger scone, are two of my favorites and will help you cook up some of the best scones you've ever tasted.

These recipes have been modified slightly, but were originally published in Bon Apetit in the November 1998 issue.

Many thanks to my friend and expert pasty chef Val who helped me make this batch of tasty scones.

Step 1: Recipe

Instructions for making two different types of scones are shown in this Instructable, so don't be put off if you see a picture of an ingredient that doesn't correlate to the exact amount required from the recipe.

One is a cranberry lemon scone, and the other is a apricot orange ginger scone. Use the recipe below as a starting point, and vary it with whatever ingredients you like!

Cranberry Lemon Scones

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup chilled buttermilk
Apricot Orange Ginger Scones

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup dried or fresh apricot (if using fresh apricot add in 2-3 tablespoons more flour)
  • 1 cup chilled buttermilk

Step 2: Mix the Dry Ingredients

The first step is to mix the first 5 dry ingredients together. If you have a sifter, use it to sift the ingredients as you add them to your bowl. If not, don't worry about it, just visually check for lumps as you pour in your dry ingredients.

This is also good time to preheat your oven to 400 F.

Step 3: Cube and Chill Butter

The scones are going to need some cold cubes of butter to be mixed into the dough in a later step. Take the butter and chop it up into 1/2" cubes and then place it in the freezer to chill out for 15 minutes.

Step 4: Zest the Lemon and Orange

Lemon and orange zest count as dry ingredients, so grab 2 lemons and one medium sized orange and grate there skins (btw, grating their skins is a process called zesting).

The lemon cranberry scone recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of zest lemon zest, while the apricot orange ginger scone requires 1 tablespoon of orange zest.

While you've got the grater out, grate 1 teaspoon of ginger as well for the apricot orange ginger scone recipe. Since you grate the entire ginger root (minus the skin) it's just called grating, not zesting. Remember, zesting is skin only.

Add the lemon, orange and ginger to their respective bowls of dry ingredients.

Step 5: Add Butter

Add 1.5 sticks of cubed butter to each bowl. Use your hands, or an electric mixer with a paddle attachment if you've got one to mix the butter into the dry ingredients. We did it by hand and it took around 5 minutes of work.

Use your fingers to break apart the cubes of butter into smaller clumps and incorporate them into the mixture until it becomes granular and starts to clump together like small pebbles.

This is the most important step in making the scones. You don't want to over mix and melt all the butter, but you do want the butter to be evenly distributed. If you think that the butter is getting too soft as you incorporate it, just throw the bowl into the refrigerator for a few minutes and then give it another try.

Step 6: Add Remaining Fruit and Mix Gently

With the butter fully incorporated, add in the remaining fruit. 3/4 of a cup of dried cranberries go in with the lemon batch, and 3/4 cup of fresh or dried apricots go into the one with the orange and ginger. If you're using fresh apricots, add in 2-3 additional tablespoons of flour to deal with the extra moisture.

Gently mix the fruit into the dry ingredients making sure to break up all of the clumps and distribute the fruit evenly throughout.

Step 7: Add Buttermilk and Mix

Pour in 1 cup of cold buttermilk. **Do not substitute regular milk for butter milk.**

Once again, use your hands, to incorporate the ingredients together thoroughly, trying not to over mix the dough. Try using a gentle folding motion to incorporate all the ingredients together until everything is evenly distributed and the dough forms into a sticky ball.

If the dough is very sticky at this point, and feels too warm and gooey to work with, place it in the fridge for 25 minutes before moving on to the next step.

Step 8: Transfer Dough to a Floured Surface and Shape

Place the dough onto a floured surface and fold it over a few times. Don't over work the dough or it will become tough.

Pat it out into a circle that is 8" to 10" wide and 1" thick.

Then, using a large knife, score and cut the dough into 8 even wedges.

If the knife sticks to the dough, you can use some flour on the edge of the blade to help ease it through.

Step 9: Arrange on Greased Cookie Sheet

Butter a cookie sheet and arrange the 8 wedges leaving an inch or two between each piece. The dough will expand a bit when it's cooked.

Step 10: Brush With Milk and Sprinkle With Sugar

Take some extra buttermilk and lightly brush it over the top and side surfaces of the scones. Sprinkle some regular sugar, or turbinado (organic unbleached sugar), over the tops of the scones as well for a nice crispy sugared crust.

  • This step is optional and effects the visual appearance of the scone more than the taste. We did it to one of the two batches to see how it would affect the final product.

Step 11: Bake at 400 for 25-30 Minutes

Bake the scones in the middle of a 400 F degree oven for 25 - 30 minutes. Check the scones first at 20 minutes and then peak in on them every two minutes until they are done.

The scones are done cooking when the tops reach a nice golden brown and when the dough that's visible between the cracks starts to firm up and look less gooey. (See macro photo below).

Also, keep watch on the bottom of the scone, you don't want it to be overcooked and become too crispy and brown.

Step 12: Enjoy!

Break apart the warm scone and enjoy it warm either on its own, or with butter and a cup of coffee right on the spot!

They keep for a few days in the fridge and a while longer in the freezer, but they're never quite as good as when they have just come out of the oven.