This is the best recipe for buttery, flaky and crumbly scones, hands down. Get top tips on how to make perfect scones easily from scratch.


If you’ve been trying to master the perfect scone and found that it’s a bit trickier than you’d expected, then this post is for you.

Seriously, I’ve tried more scone recipes than I can count, only to be disappointed to have them bake up bland, dry, or worse, tough as bricks that it would have been better used as a meat pounder.

What could be so hard about rubbing butter into flour, stirring in the liquids, rolling out the dough , and cutting rounds, right?

But as it turns out, I’ve fallen into every imaginable pitfall there is. Don’t get me wrong, scones are one of the easiest bakes on earth once you know what to look out for.

So not one to give up easily, I learnt everything I could about scones, persevered, and ended up with this winning recipe that might just be life-changing. 

These scones are flaky, crumbly and totally scrumptious. Because there’s a higher butter, cream and milk ratio to flour, these scones have an extra moist crumb and rich buttery flavour.

The best scones recipe

I came across this amazing scones recipe by Bea Vo, one of London’s favourite American pastry chefs behind the famed English tea house, Bea’s of Bloomsbury St Paul’s.

I’ve made it many times over and it’s absolutely the best scones recipe by a mile.

Even my English friends who’ve turned up their noses at the quality of scones in the shops gave these home-baked ones two thumbs up.

Each time, I’ve varied it a bit – adding dried raisins for the raisin scones you see here, as well as dried cranberries, mixed fruit, and even flavoured chips into the mix.

raisin scones

You really don’t need any equipment if you’re happy to leave the stand mixer, roll up your sleeves and energize those arm muscles mixing everything by hand.

Scones are super easy to freeze (I’ve got make-ahead options covered further down this post), and make an easy meal with a quick thaw and toast in the oven when you don’t have the time or energy to prep a stove-top breakfast.

How to bake perfect scones: Lessons learnt from a lifetime of mistakes

Why have I got such a loooong list of dos and don’ts? Because I’ve made ALL of these mistakes at some point or other along the way.

Baking up perfect scones is about getting the basics right. Here are my top tips to get the best results out of this scone recipe:

raisin scones
  • Don’t knead the mix. The key to a flaky, crumbly scone is to handle the dough as little as possible. Cut cold butter and liquids into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or wooden spoon, mixing until you get a rough dough that barely holds together.
  • Keep butter chilled until needed. Cutting in cold, even frozen, butter ensures it stays in a nice, cold form so that the fat won’t melt and release water prematurely before it hits the oven.
  • Add cold eggs and cold liquids. It’s important that everything else to be added to the dough should be cold so the dough stays cool and prevents the butter from warming too quickly.
  • Sift the flour and baking powder together. When well mixed, the baking powder gets well distributed in the flour so you’ll get a better chance of scones rising evenly.
  • Pat the dough or roll it out lightly. For more rustic-looking scones, pat down the dough lightly to the ideal height. If using a rolling pin, use light pressure only.
  • Don’t roll/pat the dough too thin. Scones cut from a thin dough tend to bake up with short sides and slightly domed tops (think cupcakes – not what we want, people). Be sure to roll to at least 1.2”/3 cm thickness so scones can rise to a good height.
  • Don’t add too much flour to the surface. Sprinkle just enough flour on the worktop to prevent the dough from sticking. By all means, dust the surface of the dough too if it gets too sticky to handle, but sparingly.
  • Flour the cutter each time before cutting. Roll the cutter in flour – use your fingers to coat the inside too. You’ll have an easier time dropping the scones (without touching their sides) directly onto the baking tray.
  • Never twist the cutter. As far as mistakes go, this is probably my worst! I know people say, “never say never“, but this is a BIG no-no. Resist the urge to twist the cutter into and out of the dough. Push the cutter down firmly into the dough, bang it if you have to, and lift it straight up.
  • Avoid touching or smearing the sides of the cut rounds. I am guilty of doing this all the time! Touching or smearing the sides effectively ‘seals’ the flaky layers, so your scones won’t rise evenly and may end up lop-sided. They might look wonky, but still delicious.
  • Flip cut rounds upside down. Here’s a tip by Jamie Oliver (though I’ve yet to try it myself). Once you’ve cut your rounds, flip them over and place them upside down on the baking tray. This will also help them to rise evenly, and counteract any ‘squashing’ from cutting down on the dough.
  • Brush milk- or egg-wash on the tops only, never the sides. Similar to touching the sides, brushing the sides of the scones will ‘glue’ the sides, preventing the scones from puffing up tall and evenly.
  • Chill the cut rounds or leftover dough when batch baking. Don’t leave the remaining dough or trays with cut rounds waiting to go in the oven, out for too long when you’re baking in batches. Return to the refrigerator as frequently as you need to, to keep them cold.
  • Make sure the oven is at the baking temperature. Remember, a hot, hot oven is key, as we want that water-to-steam conversion right away, and for the leavening to do its thing. Make sure your oven is preheated in advance and at the intended baking temperature (use an oven thermometer if you have one handy).
raisin scones

Ingredients to make plain or raisin scones

  • plain or all-purpose flour
  • baking powder. Leavens the dough and gives these scones that much needed rise.
  • salt. Salt accentuates the flavours of other ingredients, without which the scones would taste pretty flat. You can skip the salt if using salted butter.
  • sugar. There’s just enough to sweeten the dough so these scones aren’t overly sweet.
  • butter. Use unsalted butter, but salted butter works fine too – just remember to omit the additional salt.
  • eggs. Use large eggs, each weighing 56 – 60 grams / just under 2 ounces still in its shell.
  • heavy cream (whipping cream). The fats in heavy cream gives these scones an added richness and moistness. Use whipping creams with at least 35% dairy fat.
  • milk. Adds flavour and moistness. If avoiding dairy, you can use unsweetened soy milk, nut milks or oat milk but be aware that some milks do infuse the dough with their flavours as well.
  • dried fruit (optional). I added raisins but you can substitute raisins for sultanas, dried currants, dried cranberries, mixed fruit, and even flavoured chips like chocolate chips.

How to make perfect scones: Step-by-step

  • Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a large mixer bowl. Stir in the sugar. Cut the cold butter cubes (or paddle with a stand mixer at low speed) into the flour until it resembles a coarse sandy mixture. Chill for 10 minutes.
  • Whisk eggs, milk and heavy cream until well mixed.
  • Add the egg mixture and the dried raisins (or your preferred add-ins) to the flour mixture. Gently cut into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or mix with a wooden spoon until just combined and no dryness remains. The dough will be a bit sticky – this is OKAY. Chill for 10 minutes.
  • With floured hands or a plastic scraper, turn the cold dough out onto a floured surface and generously flour the top of the dough.
  • Pat the dough down lightly until 1.2″/3 cm thickness or about the same height as your cutter.

  • Dip a 2.5” (5 cm) cutter generously in flour and cut straight down into the dough (DO NOT TWIST). Lift up and immediately transfer the round to the baking sheet. Re-flour the cutter each time before cutting out the next round. Place the rounds about 1”(2 cm) apart.
  • Gather up the off-cuts, gently re-ball (again, avoid kneading) and pat down to cut out more. Repeat until all the dough is used up.

  • Just before baking, brush the tops (avoid the sides) with milk or egg wash.
  • Bake immediately on the centre rack in the preheated oven for 22 – 25 minutes until they’ve risen, turned golden brown on their tops and bottoms, and spring back when lightly pressed.  Add a few more minutes to the baking time if they’ve sat in the chiller. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

FAQs

How to store homemade scones

Scones are best eaten on the day they’re baked. However, they do keep well in an air-tight or well-sealed container for up to 3 days at room temperature, or in the chiller for up to 5 days.

Can I make scones ahead?

What you’ll love about scones is that they’re extremely freezer-friendly. If you’re in for a busy week, make ahead a batch and conveniently pop them into the freezer.

So whenever you’re craving for some fresh baked scones, expecting guests for tea, or just realised it’s the day of a bake sale you’d forgotten to pen into your calendar, it’s easy, effortless and hassle-free to pull them from the freezer and pop however many you need into the oven and bake them up fresh!

They don’t suffer from re-heating if stored well – in fact, you’d be hard-pressed to notice any difference between fresh-baked ones and frozen scones that are re-heated.

How to freeze baked scones

It’s best to freeze baked scones when they’re still fresh. Once completely cooled to room temperature, wrap each individually in cling wrap or pieces of parchment paper. This will prevent the scones from sticking to each other in the freezer bag.

Pop the wrapped scones into a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Pull out the number of pieces you need from the freezer bag, unwrap and pop into the microwave for a few seconds on a defrost setting.

To crisp the tops and edges, re-heat them in a warm oven (150°C/300°F) for 10 – 15 minutes. Cut the scones in half – it will shorten the baking time.

How to freeze unbaked scones or scone dough

You also have the option of freezing the uncut dough. Follow the recipe steps to make the dough (if including raisins, after folding them in) until you’ve got it patted down or rolled to the ideal thickness.

Wrap securely in several layers of cling wrap, store in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Pull it from the freezer, unwrap and thaw at room temperature until it’s soft enough to cut into.

Alternatively, make the dough until you’ve got all your cut rounds. Place them closely on a sheet pan and freeze uncovered until they’re fairly solid. Wrap individual rounds tightly in cling wrap, then pop them into a freezer bag and freeze.

raisin scones with raspberry preserves and whipped cream

Scones are traditionally eaten with a generous spread of jam and clotted cream, as the English would have it, but I love turning them into savoury bites just as much.

They’re perfect for sandwiching smoked salmon, egg mayo salad, ham and cheese – heck, just about anything. Even if you piled mashed potatoes on them, I bet they’d be surprisingly delish.

I’m imagining my English friends would be quite horrified, to say the least. Not quite the English way, but oh, so yummy!

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The Best Scones {Extra Buttery, Flaky and Crumbly}

raisin scones stacked on a serving plate
4.88 from 16 reviews
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Rest Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 10 mins
Yield: 9 large scones
The best buttery, flaky and crumbly scones, hands down. Learn how easy it is to make scones from scratch, and the essential dos and don'ts for turning out perfect scones. 

Ingredients

  • 300 g plain or all-purpose flour
  • 36 g caster sugar
  • tsp salt
  • tsp baking powder
  • 120 g unsalted butter, cold, cut into 0.5”/1 cm cubes, chilled until needed
  • 1 large egg, cold, (60 – 63 g/2 -2.25 oz in its shell)
  • 60 ml milk, cold
  • 75 ml heavy cream, cold, (or whipping cream with 35 – 38% dairy fat)
  • 1 tbsp milk, for milk wash
  • 36 g raisins , (for raisin scones, optional)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (356°F). Line a baking tray with parchment paper or a baking sheet.
  • Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a large mixer bowl. Stir in the sugar.
  • Cut the cold butter cubes into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or wooden spoon (or paddle the butter into the flour at low speed) until it resembles a coarse sandy mixture. Chill for 10 minutes.
  • In a separate bowl, beat cold eggs, cold milk and cold heavy cream lightly with a whisk.
  • Add the egg mixture and dried raisins (or your preferred add-ins) to the flour mixture. Gently cut into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or mix with a wooden spoon until just combined and no dryness remains.  The dough will be a bit sticky – this is OKAY. Try pulling a bit off, it should break in clumps and not stretch. Chill for 10 minutes.
    Note: If the dough is too dry and crumbly, cut in a bit more milk, 2 -3 tsp at a time. If the dough is too wet, cut in a bit more flour (this is because absorption properties of flours vary from region to region).
  • Lightly flour your hands or use a plastic scraper to turn the cold dough out onto a floured surface. Sprinkle flour on top.
  • Pat the dough down lightly until 1.2"/3 cm thickness or about the same height as your cutter.
  • Dip a 2.5”/5 cm cutter generously in flour and cut straight down into the dough (DO NOT TWIST). Lift up and immediately transfer the round to the baking sheet. Re-flour the cutter each time before cutting out the next round. Place the rounds about 1”/2 cm apart.
  • Gather up the off-cuts, gently re-ball (again, avoid kneading) and pat down to cut out more. Repeat until all the dough is used up.
  • Just before baking, brush the tops (avoid the sides) with milk or egg wash.
  • Bake the scones immediately on the center rack in the preheated oven, 22 – 25 minutes for 2.5” (5 cm) rounds. Note: If waiting turns for the oven, place the tray(s) of cut rounds and any leftover dough in the chiller.
  • The scones are done when they have risen, turned golden brown on their tops and bottoms, and spring back when lightly pressed.
  • Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Best eaten on the same day, and slightly warm with your favourite jam and whipped (or clotted) cream.
  • Once completely cooled, keep scones in an air-tight ziplock bag or well-sealed container for up to 3 days at room temperature or in the chiller for up to 5 days. To freeze, place in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.

Shop this Recipe

Cup Sifter
Mixing Bowl Set of 3
Pastry Cutter
Scone Cutter Set of 3
Silicone Pastry Brush
Nordic Ware Baking Sheet

Nutrition Information:

Serving: 1large scones, Calories: 273kcal, Carbohydrates: 30g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 57mg, Sodium: 251mg, Potassium: 66mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 496IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 93mg, Iron: 2mg
Cuisine: American, English, Western
Course: Breakfast, Snacks and Treats, Tea
Author: Celia Lim
Did you make this recipe? Be sure to leave a rating and a review in the section below, and tag @foodelicacy on Instagram and hashtag it #foodelicacy so I can see!

 


This post was originally published in 2015. In this update, it’s been refreshed and updated with new photos, step by step instructions with process shots, and detailed additional tips. The recipe remains unchanged, but scaled down to make a smaller batch intended to meet the needs of home bakers.