The ultimate scones guide – all about the british cult cake

The ultimate scones Gu >

The classic at every afternoon tea: Scones. Probably the most famous British pastry must not be missing at any teatime, the classic is the version with clotted cream and strawberries. Everything you need to know about scones, their history, pronunciation, preparation and specifics.

Content of the article

What are scones? A definition

A scone? What is that supposed to be? Aha, so you’re one of those people who have never heard of scones. Do not worry, you’re not alone with that. In fact, I have a lot of people in the circle of friends who have just learned about this miracle of British cooking through my scone obsession – and have been addicted to it ever since.

To describe a scone in words is like dancing architecture. I still want to try it: A scone is a kind of sweet bread, which is usually baked from wheat flour. In addition to baking soda, it is a decent portion of butter for the special consistency of the scones are responsible. Scones are an essential part of Afternoon Tea. As ‘Cream Tea’ you will be together with Clotted cream, a kind of baked cream, as well as strawberry jam and a cup of tea.

A little scone story

Scones are as English as the Queen, manicured lawn and the perfect cup of tea. That’s right – and it’s not true. Because the beginnings of scones have their origins not in England, but in Scotland. According to reputable sources such as the Webster‘s Dictionary, the scones in Scotland were already at the end of the Middle Ages, around 1500, when they were made with oats in the pan. Their triumphal procession as an indispensable part of Afternoon Tea is due to the scones of the Duchess Lady Anna Maria Stanhope, the Duchess of Bedford.

Their eating habits seem to be comparable to mine, because between lunch and dinner they usually felt quite a hungry. It was around 1840 that the lady one day had the brilliant idea and asked her servants to serve her tea with biscuits and butter. She liked this so much that she repeated it with friends and at some point the afternoon tea was the social event par excellence. Starting in 1880, the ladies of the company made a fancy to enjoy tea and scones between four and five o’clock in the afternoon.

The perfect scone: That’s what he looks like

What the perfect scone should look like, opinions are divided. Should he rather be round? Three or even hexagonal? To go up or be nice and flat? According to my unrepresentative scone research, it seems that the round, high scone has prevailed. At least most of the scones I’ve been served have looked like this. That was not always the case.

Although the original scone was round, but rather flat and much larger than today, was prepared in a pan and cut again into triangles before serving. Only when the baking powder found its way into the British kitchens, the flat scone was a high scone, which was baked not in the pan, but in the oven.

Baking scones: the perfect recipe for English scones

Baking scones is totally easy on the one hand. On the other hand, but totally difficult. Because if you ignore certain things (for example, if you incorporate the butter too slowly into the dough and it gets too warm), the scone no longer has the perfect consistency. I bake my scones according to a recipe by TV chef Valentine Warner and I’ve done quite well with it so far. Meanwhile, I have created many of my own scones recipes that you all find on this blog.

Scones variations: scones savory or sweet?

The classic scone consists of wheat flour, is sweetened and shines through an egg glaze. In addition to this simple scone there is usually a variation with raisins for Afternoon Tea. However, according to many, the raisin variety is not part of the classic cream tea! Meanwhile, more and more popular are savory scones baked with cheese.

In Scotland and parts of Ireland and Northern Ireland, there are also non-sweet scones: soda scones (also known as ‘farls’) or potato scones, known as ‘tattie scones’. These are made with potato flour and usually fried. As such, they are an integral part of the famous ‘full Scottish breakfast’. By the way: In other countries, too, there are scones similar to scones. In North and South America, Australia and Hungary one knows similar, sweet buns.

By the way: not to be confused with the classic scones are the so-called drop scones, also known as Scottish pancakes. These are pancakes.

Indispensable companion for scones: clotted cream

If you have read this far, then you already know that scones with clotted cream and jam are served as cream tea. What you do not know yet is that you can also step into a huge faux pas here. Because just as there is tea in first or ‘milk in first’ debate among British tea drinkers, one is at odds in the kingdom over whether the clotted cream or the jam belongs on the scones first.

What comes first on the scones – jam or clotted cream?

Because the clotted cream originated in both the county Devon and Cornwall, there are the different variants Devon Cream Tea and Cornish Cream Tea. With the former comes first the clotted cream and then the jam on the scone, in Cornwall one does the reverse.

The proponents of the “jam first” method claim that the scone is still hot when it is fresh out of the oven, and therefore the cream would run, they would first be painted on the bun. Incidentally, a famous proponent of “jam first”, that is “Cornish method”, is there: Queen Elisabeth II himself first strokes the jam onto the scone and then crowns it with a dollop of scones. Incidentally, there is another traditional method in Cornwall that is rarely seen today: the scone comes in the form of a ‘cornish split’, an oblong pastry that is first covered in butter and then jam – and lastly a decent blob of clotted cream is crowned.

Incidentally, making clotted cream yourself is quite tricky – I have always failed so far. It simply did not work out with the right consistency. I am still practicing!

How to pronounce scones correctly?

How do you pronounce the delicious pastries properly? That too can not be clarified quite clearly. At a British party one can arouse a heated discussion from this question. Should it rhyme with “con” or “cown”? For the former, at least one of the assumptions of origin speaks: the word “Skone” comes either from the Dutch ‘schoonbroot’ or from the ‘Stone of Destiny’, the stone of the Providence where the Scottish kings were crowned.

Even the Oxford Dictionary has already dealt with this burning question and comes to the following conclusion: Depending on where you come from, one or the other pronunciation is preferred. By the way, you can understand that pretty well on the Great Scone Map. Most users of the word have a very rigid opinion as to the correct pronunciation and refuse to accept both variations as correct. Finally, the pronunciation should also reveal the social status of a person. Another conclusion: this debate will never stop – so be careful when inviting you to tea!

By the way: When writing this article, I was suddenly completely unsure: it is now the one that or the scone? Again, the opinions are pretty divergent. Luckily, there is always someone to ask, and I could not have found anyone better than Jane from Jane Eggers Translations. The translator calls herself ‘Language Geek’ and has accepted my question with much patience and heart. What you got out of here you will find out here, because the story is so funny that it is worth a whole own article.

Eating scones: where are the best scones??

No matter where I am in the UK, the first thing I do is a tea room. I’m in the process of setting up a cream tea directory with my personal recommendations for the best scones in the UK. So if you have an insider tip that you want to tell, you’re welcome!

Scones eat in Germany

Where in Germany you get the best scones, the best afternoon tea and cream tea, you will find in my articles Afternoon Tea in Germany, Afternoon Tea in Berlin and Afternoon Tea in Hamburg.

So, does the water already run in your mouth? I can hardly wait for my next Cream Tea with warm scones. Where did you have the best scones of your life? Do you have a preference for ‘jam first’ or ‘cream first’ or pronunciation? I’m happy about your tips, stories and of course pictures (I like tagging on Instagram, I’m always happy when I see scones, even if I get a jieper right now, of course).

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Christina Cherry
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