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The scone is a British snack of Scottish origin. A scone is a small quickbread made of wheat, barley or oatmeal, usually with baking powder as a leavening agent. British scones are often lightly sweetened, but may also be savoury. In the U.S., scones are drier and larger, and typically sweet.
British scones closely resemble a North American biscuit (many recipes are actually identical) — itself not to be confused with the English biscuit, which equates to the American cookie. In the United States, there is a growing tendency to refer to sweet variations as "scones" (perhaps under influence from espresso bars, where they are popular fare), while those eaten as part of savoury meals are known as "biscuits". American "scones" are often baked to a dry and somewhat crumbly texture, and are typically large and rectangular; more like a cross between a cookie and a muffin than a biscuit. In Canada, both tend to be called "biscuits" or "tea biscuits".
British scones frequently include raisins, currants, cheese or dates. In the United States, scones sold by coffee shops often include fillings such as cranberries, blueberries, nuts, or even chocolate chips. However, most fillings tend to be spices, including cinnamon and poppy seeds. In both Britain and the U.S., mass-produced scones tend to be doughier than home-made scones.
In Scotland and Northern Ireland, savoury varieties of scone include soda scones, also known as soda farls, and potato scones, normally known as tattie scones, which resemble small, thin savoury pancakes made with potato flour and resemble the Jewish latke. Potato scones are most commonly served fried in full a Scottish breakfast or an Ulster fry.
The scone is a basic component of the cream tea or Devonshire tea.
The griddle scone is a variety of scone which is fried rather than baked. In some countries one may also encounter savoury varieties of scone which may contain or be topped with combinations of cheese, onion, bacon etc.
Other common terms include dropped scone, or drop scone, after the method of dropping the batter onto the griddle or frying pan to cook it.
According to American food guru Alton Brown, scones are prepared according to the "biscuit method". This involves "cutting" or "rubbing" the butter or other fat into the dry ingredients before adding the wet ingredients to form the dough. The dough is then shaped, and scones are cut out, placed on a baking sheet, and baked in a hot oven. As mentioned above, drop scones and griddle scones are instead fried on a griddle.
- 2 cups cake flour, more as needed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
- 1 egg
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup heavy cream, more for brushing
1. Heat the oven to 230C/450F. Put the flour, salt, baking powder and 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles cornmeal.
2. Add the egg and just enough cream to form a slightly sticky dough. If it’s too sticky, add a little flour, but very little; it should still stick a little to your hands.
3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead once or twice, then press it into a 3/4-inch-thick circle and cut into 2-inch rounds with a biscuit cutter or glass. Put the rounds on an ungreased baking sheet. Gently reshape the leftover dough and cut again. Brush the top of each scone with a bit of cream and sprinkle with a little of the remaining sugar.
4. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, or until the scones are a beautiful golden brown. Serve immediately.
Yield: 8 to 10 scones.
- Brown, Alton (2004). I'm Just Here for More Food. New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang. pp. 146—147. ISBN 978-1-58479-341-0.