Easy Plain Scones

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A recipe for plain scones which are fast and easy to make. These scones are light and fluffy, and go perfectly with jam and cream for a gorgeous afternoon tea.

plain scones with jam and cream on plate

Plain Scones

When I was in London a few years ago, I was reminded of my fond affection for Devonshire Tea, which is essentially a plain scone served with jam and cream. As scones are not widely available in Zurich, I made it my mission to eat as many scones as I could, in between visiting the museums and shopping on the High Street.

I adore the British ritual of having High Tea in the afternoons, which I think is just a fancy version of afternoon tea, goûter or fika in other parts on the world. There is something just so comforting about sitting down to a hot cup of tea (with milk and sugar for me), with a small selection of sweet cakes to see you through the afternoon.

And for me, if I can have a warm scone with my tea or coffee, I am in heaven.

plain scone split with jam and cream

Plain Scone Recipe

Scones are really easy to make and, if you don’t mind getting your hands a bit dirty, it’s possible to make a batch of scones and have it ready to serve in less than 30 minutes.

For a really long time, my favourite (and only) scone recipe came from Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess, called Lily’s Scones. Nigella’s recipe produces really lovely fluffy scones and I would wholeheartedly recommend this recipe to anyone. The only drawback for me with the recipe was the use of cream of tartar, an ingredient which is hard (sometimes impossible) to find in Zurich, but which I know is widely available in countries like the UK, US and Australia.

Recently, in the spirit of exploring more recipes, I started experimenting with other easy scone recipes and eventually arrived at my own plain scone recipe.

plain scone recipe with jam and cream

How to Make Scones

To make plain scones, you start by rubbing cold butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture looks crumbly and resembles wet sand. I also use lard or vegetable shortening to make the scones extra soft. For this task, I like to use my stand mixer with the flat paddle attachment, but you could of course simply use your fingertips.

Milk is added to the dry ingredients to bring everything together into a soft dough. At this stage, you should handle the dough as little as possible to ensure that the scones turn out light and fluffy. Over-working or handling the scone dough too much will result in tough scones.

Once the scone dough has formed, I use a patting motion to shape the dough. You should never knead the dough as you would risk over-working the dough.

For really soft scones, I like to bake them close together so that they expand and stick together as they cook, thereby ensuring a greater soft and fluffy surface area. Wrapping the hot scones in a clean tea towel will also help to keep the scones soft by trapping steam to prevent a hard coating from forming.

But if you like the crunchy coating on scones, I would bake the scones spaced apart on the baking tray so that they bake individually.

how to make plain scones, step-by-step photos

Fruit Scones & Savoury Scones

I frequently make plain scones, but you could easily add a handful or more of raisins for a fruit scone. Chopped dates are also delicious in scones.

For a savoury scone, I would omit the sugar from the recipe below, and add about 75 g (1/2 cup) grated cheddar or Gruyère.

In Australia, pumpkin scones are also very popular, a recipe which I must add to my blog soon!

How to Eat Scones

I didn’t know that the topic of how to eat scones was a contentious one, but apparently it is!

My way of eating a scone is to gently split it open with my hands, thereby allowing all of the fluffy layers of the scone to be intact. If you were to use a knife to cut the scone, you would effectively flatten the layers inside the scone.

Next, you should place a small amount of jam onto each half of the scone, followed by a good dollop of clotted cream, whipped cream or Chantilly cream. If you place the cream onto the scone first, the jam would simply slide off and eating your scone will become a messy affair!

However, if you are skipping the cream altogether, I would suggest a generous spread of butter on the scones, which would melt into the scones if they are warm, followed by a topping of jam.

What to Serve with Scones

The following recipes would be perfect for serving with a batch of plain scones:

Homemade Clotted Cream

Strawberry Jam

Peach & Raspberry Jam

Apricot Jam

Lemon Curd

plain scones on vintage wire rack

Easy Plain Scones

5 from 1 reviews

A recipe for plain scones which are fast and easy to make. These scones are light and fluffy, and go perfectly with jam and cream for a gorgeous afternoon tea. 

  • Author: eatlittlebird.com
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Makes about 12 scones
  • Category: Baking
  • Cuisine: Australian

Ingredients

For the Plain Scones

  • 500 g (3 1/3 cup) plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 25 g (2 tablespoons) caster sugar
  • 2 heaped teaspoons baking powder
  • 50 g (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 25 g (1 1/2 tablespoons) lard or vegetable shortening (or simply use butter)
  • 300 ml (1 cup plus 3 tablespoons) full cream milk

For the Egg Wash

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon full cream milk (for the egg wash)

For the Chantilly Cream

Instructions

For the Plain Scones

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C (430°F).
  2. Place a baking tray in the middle shelf of the oven to warm up while you are making the scones.
  3. Place the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder into the bowl of a KitchenAid or stand mixer.
  4. Add the butter and lard (or vegetable shortening), and briefly mix with the flat paddle attachment until the mixture resembles damp sand. Alternatively, you can do this by hand by simply rubbing the fats into the flour with your fingertips.
  5. Add the milk and quickly mix everything until it just comes together in a dough. Try not to overwork the dough as this may lead to tough scones later.
  6. Place the dough onto a floured work surface and pat it into a rectangle or circle shape about 3 cm high.
  7. Cut your scones with a round cutter. You could also use a teacup or small glass to shape your scones. Dip the cutter into some flour to prevent the dough from sticking to it.
  8. You can make the scones as little or as big as you like, adjusting the baking time accordingly. I use a 6 cm crinkle-edged cookie cutter to make fairly small scones.
  9. Lightly re-shape the dough as necessary, but try to handle the dough as little as possible.
  10. Arrange the scones closely together on a baking tray.
  11. Make an egg wash by lightly beating together the egg and milk.
  12. Brush the scones with some egg-wash.
  13. Bake the scones in the oven for about 10-15 minutes (depending on size), or until they are lovely and golden.
  14. You may need to test a scone to make sure that it is fully cooked through in the centre.
  15. These scones are best served hot or warm, but they are also lovely served at room temperature.
  16. Serve the scones with some Chantilly Cream (recipe below) and strawberry jam.

For the Chantilly Cream

  1. Place the cream and sugar into a large bowl and whisk until until soft peaks form.
  2. The cream should be soft, but still be able to hold its shape.

Kitchen Notes

  1. This recipe also halves well to produce a smaller batch of scones.
  2. The scones are best eaten right away, or at least on the day of baking. But I find that if you individually wrap them in clingfilm, they still taste quite fresh one or two days later.

Make-Ahead Tips

The scones can be made ahead of time and stored in the freezer. Simply prepare the scones as per the instructions above until Step 9. I like to freeze 2 or 4 scones together in a small zip-lock freezer bag for easy handling. To bake, simply proceed with the remaining instructions above using the frozen scones (there is no need to defrost them first), but they will require an extra 5-10 minutes in the oven (depending on size).

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 219
  • Sugar: 1.4g
  • Sodium: 420.6mg
  • Fat: 6.6g
  • Carbohydrates: 33.8g
  • Fiber: 1.1g
  • Protein: 5.5g
  • Cholesterol: 20mg

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment below and share your photos by tagging @eatlittlebird on Instagram and using #eatlittlebird

Update

This recipe was first published on 21 September 2012. It has been updated with new photos and more comprehensive recipe notes.

37 Comments

  1. Dianne 21 September 2012

    Scones – yes! A definite favourite of mine. Your recipe is very different to mine though and I shall have to give it a try. I use a simple 2 cups of SR flour and 1 tbs of caster sugar with 40g of butter rubbed in before cutting through 3/4 to one cup of milk. It is very simple and healthy but not decadant. I make scones wiht my Year 9s every year. Many of them produce some decent results with this recipe, but some of them come out with rocks when the over knead and work the mixture! Your strawberry jam recipe sounds great. Strawberries are cheap here at the moment so I may need to test your jam recipe too!

    Reply
    • eat, little bird 21 September 2012

      Your recipe sounds lovely and simple, and easy to remember as well. Self-raising flour is not available where I live so I tend to go for recipes with baking powder added, or a combination of bicarb and cream of tartar. I remember making scones as a kid at school and loved it! It’s a recipe which uses so few ingredients, and common ingredients at that, that it’s a good way of getting kids involved, I think. I know there are a million and one recipes for strawberry jam out there, but this one worked well for me so I wanted to share it 🙂

      Reply
  2. Jo 21 September 2012

    My favourite scone without a doubt is Rachel Allen’s from Bake, ironically enough! I did not get along with Lily’s scones – they were very soda tasting and step monster spat it out when I made them for her and my dad! There’s a Pat Val in Liverpool but I’ve never ventured in. I love still warm homemade scones so much I would be scared of a mass catering joint messing them up lol! Am not much of a patisserie fan either but I know you are Thanh so it must be better than I think! I can’t wait for a blog post about London from you – pleeeeease do do one. I bet it would be exquisite 😀

    Reply
    • eat, little bird 21 September 2012

      Funnily enough, I haven’t noticed the scone recipe in Bake! Must look that up now … And shame that Nigella’s scones did not work out for you. I find them to be quite light and fluffy and they work everytime for me. That said, I would be interested in trying new recipes just to compare!

      The scones from Patisserie Valerie were really buttery and lovely. I don’t think they make them fresh each day, but as they are served warm, it’s hard to tell. For me, they hit the spot 🙂

      I’m afraid I didn’t take as many photos in London as I ought to have, so my London post will be quite short … it just means that I have to go back soon! 😉

      Reply
  3. Ashima 21 September 2012

    Ah Scones! love them and they always remind me of London which was my home until 2 years ago when we moved back to India.. and what I love about them is that scones are a perfect playground.. I don’t think there is any count on the different types of scones that one can make 🙂

    Cheers,
    Ashima

    Reply
    • eat, little bird 21 September 2012

      There is something very English about scones, isn’t there? The Americans have their “biscuits” which are quite similar, though they tend to be more on the savoury side. I would never say no to a side of biscuits with fried chicken 🙂

      And you are right about the variety. I particularly love pumpkin scones and, as pumpkins are coming into season, I might need to make a batch soon!

      Reply
  4. jules 21 September 2012

    now I have a craving for scones! These look great!

    Reply
  5. Edith 21 September 2012

    These have to be some of the best looking scones I have ever seen, definitely have to give them a try 🙂
    A scone a day keeps the doctor away, right?

    Reply
    • eat, little bird 21 September 2012

      Oh thank you!! And I like your philosophy … something I would happily live by 😉

      Reply
  6. TheSpicySaffron 21 September 2012

    wow Thanh, What a treat! I love scones but have never tried making them at home. I am tempted to do so very soon! Though, I have made the American version of it.. ‘biscuits”.
    The jam looks delicious too !

    Reply
    • eat, little bird 21 September 2012

      I think biscuits and scones are pretty much the same thing … both are easy to make and very easy to eat! This mention of biscuits has me craving fried chicken with gravy all of a sudden, LOL!!

      Reply
  7. Paula 21 September 2012

    It seems nice that Patisserie Valerie 😉

    And, I think I have already said it to you, but I love scones!! And they’re great as breakfast with jam, but at home, we have used even for a hamburguer!!!

    Nice photos 😉

    Reply
    • eat, little bird 21 September 2012

      Wow, you are right … scones can be quite versatile! In the US, they often serve scones (or biscuits) at breakfast, split with bacon and a fried egg in the middle. It’s delicious!

      Reply
  8. debjani 22 September 2012

    Thank you for this detailed recipe. I have never had luck making scones. Everyone who hears me says its the easiest thing to do but I fail every time. I’m going to give this one a go. I always find them tough as bricks because of never knowing how much liquid it’s going to take and in turn kneading too much.

    Reply
    • eat, little bird 22 September 2012

      I think the trick is to avoid over-working the dough – the less you touch it, the better! Having said that, I was also very light-handed with other recipes but they still turned out tough. Perhaps it was the ratio of ingredients. These scones are quite light, perhaps due in part to the bicarb and cream of tartar. Good luck the next time you make them!

      Reply
      • debjani 23 September 2012

        Could be the cream of tartar which I never used. I will let you know for sure.

        Reply
  9. Joanna Preston 23 September 2012

    Certainly will try this recipe. My mother makes the most divine scones, her secret she swears is using slightly sour milk!! Anyhow it seems to work, that and cooking them in an Aga – !

    Reply
    • eat, little bird 23 September 2012

      I’ve been curious to try scones using buttermilk. Nigella has a recipe in her book, Kitchen, which I have been eyeing for some time. Thanks for reminding me! And I’m sure an old-fashioned Aga would make a lot of difference for many cakes … I’m envious of anyone who has an Aga.

      Reply
  10. anita menon 23 September 2012

    This post takes me back to the time when I had just started baking. I was finding my baby steps through the strict measurements and baking time matrix and one of the first things I attempted was chocolate chip scones. they turned out delightful that fueled by ambition to try something more daring. I haven’t looked back since.
    Scones taste amazing when they are just out of the oven.
    Yours look so delightful and the jam is something I would quickly buy if it were for sale.
    you should have an online sale or something, if possible.

    Reply
    • eat, little bird 23 September 2012

      Ooh, I love the sound of chocolate chip scones! I think scones are one of the first things that a lot of Australian kids learn how to make at school. As my parents ran a bakery when I was growing up, I didn’t make scones so much at home because there was always a constant supply at the bakery! I also love eating scones straight from the oven … I love my food piping hot, so a fresh scone with a nice smear of butter is heaven to me!

      And thank you for your lovely comments about my jam 🙂 I’ve contemplated making and selling jam but it is perhaps not the most economical business in Switzerland, LOL! But my neighbours get to profit from my jam exploits so that we don’t always have to eat the same flavoured jam week in, week out. Plus it’s nice to be able to share 🙂

      Reply
  11. thelittleloaf 23 September 2012

    Ooh yum I love scones – yours look like perfect little specimens!

    Reply
  12. Heather Hands 24 September 2012

    Oh my, what a perfect combination. I love to add a bit of whipped cream on the side.

    Reply
  13. Rushi 24 September 2012

    I fell in love with scones in London too, just couldn’t have enough of them. I was brave enough to try two versions, one using buttermilk and the other using lemonade back home and I was pretty pleased with the result. I’ve never tried Nigella’s but your post made me want to try them out. Scones with cream and lots of jam, yum yum yum 🙂

    You lucky thing, to grow up in your parent’s bakery and now I want to move next door to you just so that I’d be able to sample your delicious treats 😀

    Reply
    • eat, little bird 28 September 2012

      Oh lemonade sounds interesting! I would be curious to try such a recipe, too.

      I’d like to think that my neighbours are happy to sample my baking here and there but, more often than not, I’m worried that I’m force-feeding them fatty food, LOL!!

      Reply
  14. Amanda 26 September 2012

    These pictures are beautiful! I’m actually studying in London right now (for the fall term), and if you’d love to visit a really adorable little café with a phenomenal scone, try Bea’s of Bloomsbury! I literally just visited yesterday and am completely enamored with it. Thanks for the recipes as well-I’m a student on a budget so simple recipes like this are so appreciated 🙂

    Reply
    • eat, little bird 28 September 2012

      Thank you for the tip! I will have to seek out Bea’s of Bloomsbury the next time I am in London (hopefully soon :-)). Scones are indeed very economical and can also be very filling, something which I also discovered when I was a student. Good luck with your studies!

      Reply
  15. […] my recipe for Apricot & Vanilla Jam but omitting the vanilla this time), not to mention the Strawberry Jam which has been disappearing as fast as I make […]

    Reply
  16. Hamilton Courtney 7 November 2012

    Yum! This is such a classic British recipe, executed so beautifully here.

    I love how incredibly chic your blog is, a real treat for the eyes 🙂

    Reply
  17. Erika 2 April 2013

    It’s way past midnight and I’m considering making some scones! I just love them and they’re so easy! It took me a while to make them work, though. But I now I have two recipes I can trust – maybe I’ll have a third, after trying yours 😉

    Reply
  18. London — eat, little bird 5 September 2013

    […] A (long) while back, I optimistically mentioned that I would be publishing a travel post on London. But when I went looking through my photos, I realised that I had actually very few photos of London. There is one of me standing proudly in front of the Australian Embassy for no apparent reason other than perhaps I was feeling a little homesick that day. And then there are a few shots of my husband with the Gherkin in the background. The remaining photos are all foodie shots, and not so many at that. I guess I was a bit camera-shy that trip or just enjoying myself too much to remember to whip out the camera. […]

    Reply
  19. Sarah 31 January 2014

    What is cream of tartar? I’m from Belgium and have no idea what this is 🙂
    Would love to make some scones myself!
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • eat, little bird 31 January 2014

      Hi Sarah,
      Cream of tartar is a raising agent. It’s not commonly available or used in Europe, I’m afraid. I buy my cream of tartar from specialty shops which stock baking goods from the UK and US. Hopefully you will find some in Belgium so you can try this lovely recipe.

      Reply
  20. Julia 12 April 2018

    I bet those flavors are amazing! it really impresses. I can’t WAIT to try this! Thank you for this great recipe!

    Reply
  21. 2pots2cook 10 May 2018

    Oh dear ! Exactly my cup of tea ! Thank you so much !

    Reply

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