As scones have two different interpretations in the US and UK, this recipe is referring to the classic British afternoon tea scone that so many of us are familiar with. The US have a savoury twist to their scones (aka biscuits), usually served with casserole dishes – a future recipe I look forward to sharing.
Like most of you, when I switched to a gluten-free diet, I had to resign to the idea of going to any afternoon teas, missing out on delectable scones laden with jam and cream along with the rest of the fanfare of dainty cut cucumber sandwiches, petit fours, choux pastries and delicate mini tartlets and biscuits. Although my hips are probably thankful for missing this occasion, every now and then, I like to treat myself to a small part of a grand afternoon tea by whipping up a fresh batch of fluffy, sweet scones to enjoy at home with my favourite tea.
Tips for making successful scones:
1. Measure the ingredients precisely.
2. Test your baking powder for freshness by adding a small amount of boiling water to it. If it bubbles strongly, it is fresh.
3. Make sure your oven is preheated at the correct temperature of 200 C/400 F.
4. Chill the flour and butter in the freezer for 15 minutes before rubbing them together, especially if you live in a warm country or it is a hot Summer day.
5. Don’t over-rub the flour and butter together as this will heat up the butter too much and make the scones dense.
6. Chill your scones in the fridge on a baking tray for at least 30 minutes before baking. This gives it a nice boost to rise in the oven.
7. Don’t be tempted to open the oven door often to peek at your scones baking. You’ll lose that valuable heat. 15 minutes is the perfect time for 5.5cm scones.
8. Gluten scones are normally baked close together to encourage more height. Don’t try this with gluten-free scones. They need air circulating around them and rise better independently. This is what happens if they are baked close together. Although they were perfectly edible, they looked a bit strange!
9. Once baked, cover your scones with a tea towel to keep them warm until serving time.
10. These scones are best eaten on the day of baking but can be reheated the following day in the oven. Cover them in foil to avoid over-crisping the tops.
- 350g store-bought or homemade self-raising flour blend
- 350g store-bought or homemade gluten-free plain flour
- 4 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum or 2 teaspoons psyllium husk
- 100g butter, chilled and cut into small pieces * (use margarine for dairy-free)
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 200ml milk, chilled * (use almond milk for dairy-free)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Tapioca flour, for rolling out
- 1 egg yolk mixed with a few pinches of sugar, blended ** (use milk for egg-free)
- Fresh whipped cream or clotted cream
- Strawberry jam
- Butter, at room temperature (use margarine for dairy-free)
Step by Step Instructions
1. Mix the milk and lemon juice together in a jug and set aside in the refrigerator to chill.
2. Place the self-raising flour and chilled, cubed butter in a medium bowl.
3. Put the bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes to chill further.
4. Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F.
5. Remove and start rubbing the butter into the flour, using your fingertips until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
6. Rub in the sugar briefly into the flour & butter mixture.
7. Using a wooden spoon, add the milk and lemon mixture to the flour mixture, stirring well until the dough comes together.
8. As soon as the dough comes together, stop mixing and remove the dough to the lightly floured countertop and form a disc no thinner than 3.5 cm. Do not use a rolling pin, simply press down gently and follow this method with the remaining dough scraps.
9. Using a fluted round cutter measuring 5.5cm, press down into the dough and push the dough out gently onto a lined baking tray.
10. Place the scones at least 5 cm apart.
12. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. The tops should be nicely golden, and the scone should sound hollow when tapped at the bottom of the scone.
13. Allow them to cool down for a few minutes before cutting in half and filling with either butter, jam and/or cream.
16. Serve scones with strawberry jam and ideally clotted cream, otherwise whisk up some fresh cream. These scones are just as delicious on their own with some butter.
This recipe makes 8 nicely risen, authentic scones using a 5.5cm fluted round cutter. If you like your scones smaller, use a 3.5cm cutter which will give you 12 scones.
*For those looking for dairy-free or vegan scones, I have successfully made these scones with margarine and almond milk.
**The egg wash can be replaced with milk for those that follow an egg-free diet.
The only store-bought self-raising flour that I have tried is the UK brand, Doves Farm, which worked perfectly in this recipe.