Light and Tender Cream Scones

5 stars based on 2 votes

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A good scone is light, tender and buttery — almost biscuit like. So why is it so hard to come by? After many trials, I finally found the answer and it all boils down to one simple ingredient. Cake flour. I’ve got two recipes for you: this traditional one, which is delicious slathered with butter and jam, and a kid-friendly chocolate chip version coming next week.

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So, why cake flour? Cake flour is a fine-textured, low protein flour made from soft winter wheat. Less gluten forms when you mix it into the batter, which results in scones with a very fine, fluffy crumb.

You can make these scones in a food processor or by hand. It doesn’t really matter…just be sure your butter is very cold and try to work quickly. Today I’m using my machine; next week for the chocolate chip version, I’ll show you how to make them by hand.

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To begin, combine the dry ingredients in the bowl of your food processor and pulse until well combined.

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Next, “cut” the cold butter into the dry ingredients by pulsing several times until the mixture has the consistency of very coarse crumbs. Be careful not to over-mix. All those little pea-size clumps of butter create structure in the scones and give them a tender, fluffy consistency when baked.

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Add most of the heavy cream and an egg.

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Pulse until the dough comes together in clumps. It should be a bit sticky. If it seems dry, add the remaining cream.

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Dust a work surface with flour, then dump the sticky dough on top.

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If necessary, sprinkle more flour, little by little, until the dough is just dry enough to gather into a ball, then press it into a flat circle about 3/4-inch high. Be careful not to overwork the dough; you want to handle it as little as possible.

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Cut it into 8 wedges, then transfer the wedges to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

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Brush the unbaked scones with egg, then sprinkle with demerara sugar (this is just raw sugar, or the stuff in the brown packets at Starbucks). This gives the scones a nice golden color and sparkly, slightly crunchy top.

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Bake for about 10 minutes, until lightly golden and firm to the touch.

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Enjoy the scones fresh out of the oven with butter or softly whipped cream and jam.

Light and Tender Cream Scones

Servings: 8 scones

Ingredients

For Dough

  • 2 cups cake flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 -3/4 cup heavy cream (do not substitute milk or light cream)

For Topping

  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon demerara sugar (also called raw sugar or turbinado)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the cake flour, salt, baking powder and sugar in the bowl of food processor fitted with metal blade. Pulse several times to combine.
  3. Add the cold butter and pulse quickly until mixture resembles course meal with pea-size clumps of butter within.
  4. Add egg and 2/3 cup of heavy cream and pulse just until mixture comes together in clumps. The dough should be a bit sticky. If it seems dry, add remaining 2 tablespoons heavy cream and pulse quickly again until just combined.
  5. Dust a work surface lightly with flour, then dump scone dough onto surface. Knead very gently a few times until dough comes together into a ball. (Sprinkle more flour, little by little, if dough is too sticky to work with.) Press dough into a flat circle about 3/4-inch high, then use a sharp knife to cut into 8 triangles. Transfer wedges to prepared baking sheet. Brush lightly with beaten egg and sprinkle with demerara sugar. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until tops are lightly golden and firm to the touch. Serve warm with butter or softly whipped cream and jam.
  6. Note: Scones are best served fresh out of the oven or on the same day, reheated in a toaster oven.

Reviews & Comments

  • Hi Jenn,

    I want to make almond and dried sour cherry scones. How much extract and cherries would you recommend? Also curious why your pumpkin scones dont’t call for cake flour?

    Thanks!

    - Kerrie on December 14, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Kerrie, I think I may have answered you by email but I would say 1 cup of cherries and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract. I don’t use cake flour in the pumpkin scones because the pumpkin makes the scones very tender.

      - Jenn on December 18, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Is it possible to add blueberries to this scone recipe. If it is possible, what amount would you recommend?

    - Ellie on December 6, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Ellie, Yes it’s possible; I’d probably add about 3/4 cup — too many might make these a little too tart.

      - Jenn on December 7, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Nothing makes scones tender and flakey like butter and cream—delicious!

    - susie on July 19, 2014 Reply
  • The best recipe for scones ever.

    - Bimpe on February 20, 2014 Reply
  • I’ve been craving a fresh baked scone for some time now and these cream scones hit the mark! They were delicious & tender beyond belief. I was thrilled that they were so fast and easy to pull together. I couldn’t be bothered to pull my food processor out so I mixed them by hand. This one is definitely a keeper! Thank you!!

    - Gayle on July 23, 2013 Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I used all purpose flour for the scones instead of cake flour, it still was yummy! I added some dice up sweet potato in the scones and turnout delicious.

    - Liz on March 13, 2013 Reply
  • These scones are perfect, as is. Easy, quick, and so light and tender. I wouldn’t change a thing.

    - Sandra on March 10, 2013 Reply
  • These scones rival the ones at the tea shop in a nearby town. Ilovetomake them on a old weekend afternoon. I recently sicovered that Trader Joes has Sheffield stable heavy cream which I keep inmy pantry just in case I run out of cream in fridge. Works pretty well.i recently tried adding toffee bits to a batch of scones which met with rave reviews

    - Sharyn on March 10, 2013 Reply
  • I made these for my garden clubs annual High Tea. They are so melt in your mouth good! We served them with lemon curd and jam but I loved them plain. Another perfect recipe as have been all the ones I have tried. Thank you for such a wonderful resource.

    - Judy on March 9, 2013 Reply
  • Can these be made without the cream??

    - Lindz on January 15, 2013 Reply
    • Hi Lindz, Unfortunately, the recipe won’t work without the cream. Sorry!

      - Jenn on January 15, 2013 Reply
  • Make these tonight and they were great. Quick and easy – the best kind of scones.

    - Emily on December 3, 2012 Reply
  • I made these today! In the past I’ve had bad luck with scone recipes, but these were delicious even though I don’t own a food processor. Light and crumbly and just sweet enough. I added some sultanas.

    - Emily on August 13, 2012 Reply
  • I am looking forward to trying this recipe to have with Chai tea

    - Elizabeth C. in Kansas on June 26, 2012 Reply
  • Whenever I have friends over for tea, I like to bake something special. I made these scones and everyone fell in love with them!! I added 1/8 tsp each of powdered ginger and cinnamon and used half A-P flour and half whole wheat flour. I’d make them again in a heartbeat.

    - Kelly S on June 20, 2012 Reply
  • I made these for a brunch I was hosting, and they were a hit. Not one was left for me to snack on!

    - Rose on May 20, 2012 Reply
  • This is the recipe I’m choosing to review as my entry in the Boos giveaway. I have made these scones 3 times now and they are wonderful and truly easy. The first time I was not happy with the amount of salt taste so the next time I just reduced it to a grind. They were perfect. Last week when I made them I added dried blueberries in the final pulse. These are my go to recipe for scones!

    - Linda on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • Can’t wait to make these… i have a special jam that has been waiting for the perfect scone to pair with…

    - Ada Howe on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • I freeze the unbaked scones and the bake them fresh as I need them. This works great because there only 2 of us in the house

    - reenie on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • scones are one of my most favorite breakfast foods and I believe butter and cream are the unsung heroes of the ultimate scone

    - susie dyksinski on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • I just made these scones last night with some dried cranberries, orange zest, and walnuts- they were a hit with my family! They can’t wait for me to make them again. Thank you for such a delicious, and simple recipe!

    - Melissa on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • I made these and they are delicious. Turned out great and were so light. Very easy to do.

    - Linda S on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • So easy and so good! I made these for a baby shower and they were a big hit!

    - Becky on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • I have been looking for a GOOD scone recipe for awhile. Thank you!!!

    - Michelle on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • I love this scone recipe because it is so versatile. I’ve made it various times with several add ins. So far, my favorite was adding a teaspoon of maple extract and chunks of fresh pear (dehydrated in a low oven for about an hour). Yum!

    - Rachel on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • Loved the cake flour change from my usual recipe. Divine!!

    - Laura on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • These remind me of the scones I had in Ireland. I will be making these this weekend!

    - Mara on October 24, 2011 Reply
  • I just posted pumpkin scones today, but your cream scones look so great with the jam I may just have to make another batch. I could eat scones every morning for the rest of my life!

    - Sue/the view from great island on October 22, 2011 Reply
  • I love scones too…I usually brush the tops with extra milk for a smoother texture. I will have to try your recipe. Thanks!

    - Anna on October 21, 2011 Reply
  • These look wonderful, thank you

    - Alexandra on October 21, 2011 Reply
  • Yum! All your pastry recipes makes me want to finally go out and buy a food processor.

    - Cynthia on October 20, 2011 Reply
  • Interesting! Our recipes are identical except for the cake flour. I cannot wait to try this!

    - Kel@The Kel Show on October 20, 2011 Reply
  • Mmm I love scones. Those look delicious!

    - Megan at ScholasticFood on October 20, 2011 Reply
  • I’ve been searching for the perfect scone recipe and I can’t wait to try this one!

    - J. Lefebvre on October 20, 2011 Reply

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