baking basics: cream scones

cream and blueberry lemon scones

Surprise: it’s Valentine’s week and I’m NOT sharing a red velvet cake/cookie/cupcake/doughnut/whatever recipe with you. Because I don’t like red velvet. And I’m tired of seeing red velvet recipes.

Instead, let’s talk basics again. SCONES!

Why scones? Scones are great. I don’t meant Starbucks scones that are filled with toffee and glazed with sugar. I mean light, fluffy, not-too-sweet, crisp on the edges scones. No glaze necessary. Though you would do yourself a favor if you served these with some barely sweetened softly whipped cream. Or a bit of jam. Or both!

The beauty of a basic cream scone recipe is that they’re just as good plain as they are jazzed up (ideas for scone fancification toward the end of this post!) They’re surprisingly quick to make, and easy to share and transport. Also, they’re good for breakfast, lunch, snacktime, with tea or coffee, and for dessert. Multipurpose, for sure.

Method: Here’s a sort-of step by step photo tutorial to give you a better sense of what the process looks like…the full recipe is listed at the end of the post.

Step 1: Get your mise en place ready! Remember, this helps make it so you won’t get halfway through making them and realize you have run out of some ingredient or another. Also, preheat your oven to 425F.

scones mis en place

Step 2: Add flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder to the bowl of your food processor. Pulse several times to  combine ingredients. Once your dry ingredients are combined, scatter your butter pieces over the flour mixture, and pulse 10 times, each pulse lasting about 1 second. What you find in your food processor bowl should resemble a coarse meal.

food processor steps

Step 3: Dump the dough into a large bowl. Then, stir in heavy cream until a dough begins to form. You’ll want a sturdy spoon/spatula for this task. Your ingredients will not full combine in this step. You’ll just have a shaggy, flour-y doughy mixture.

dough process

Step 4: Transfer dough to your clean counter top. Knead dough until it forms a rough, sticky ball. That should take about 10-15 seconds. Don’t over knead it! You don’t want the warmth of your hands to melt the butter. Then, pat the dough into a around about 3/4 inch thick (usually about 8-9 inches in diameter). Cut into 8 wedges.

scone shaping

Step 5: Place wedges on a parchment-lined pan. (If you want to, you can sprinkle them with a bit of coarse sugar, but they don’t need it).

scones pre-bake

Step 6: Bake at 425F for 12-15 minutes, until the scone tops begin to lightly brown.

Get fancy: Once you’ve got the basic recipe down, mix it up! Add citrus zest, grated ginger, and/or spices when you mix the flour/sugar/salt/baking powder. Stir in some berries when you add the cream. Add dark chocolate chips! Drizzle with melted chocolate once they’re cooled. Add toffee bits to the dough. See? Lots of options. I added a full lemon’s worth of zest to the food processor with my flour mixture, and stirred in some fresh blueberries when I added the cream. You might pop a few of the berries when you knead the dough, but that’s okay!

blueberry lemon cream scone

Basic Cream Scones

recipe, adapted ever so slightly, from Cooks Illustrated

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 TB sugar
1 TB baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
5 TB unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
1 cup heavy cream


  1. Preheat your oven to 425F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment.
  2. Pulse the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in your food processor until combined.
  3. Scatter butter over flour mixture. Pulse 10-12 times (1 second per pulse). Your mixture should resemble coarse meal.
  4. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in cream until a shaggy dough starts to form.
  5. Transfer dough to your clean counter top. Knead 10-15 seconds, until dough forms a rough, sticky ball.
  6. Pat dough into a 9-inch round, about 3/4 inch thick. Cut into 8 wedges.
  7. Place wedges on prepared cookie sheet, and bake for 12-15 minutes, until the top/edges of the scones are slightly golden.
  8. They’re good on their own, but even better with softly whipped cream and/or jam. Scones are best eaten the day they are made, but if you need to, store in an airtight container, and toast for a few minutes before serving the next day.

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