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Published by Amy
The only scone recipe you’ll ever need! Plain Scones provide the perfect base for almost any scone, so if you want to be a scone master, start here.
Granny has always had a knack for scones. I can still clearly remember when we had people come to visit as a kid. Granny would whip out a batch of scones, in no time at all, with very little effort. Recipe straight from memory, not even measuring out quantities half the time – just eyeballing it but somehow never getting it wrong.
I’ve mentioned in my other scone recipes that in theory, scones are a very easy thing to bake. Although in practice, they can take a bit of work to master. Don’t worry, I’ve included all our tips for the perfect scone recipe below.
But if you really want to become a scone master, Plain Scones are the ideal place to start.
This recipe for plain scones is the perfect base for nearly every kind of scone you could imagine. In fact, Granny used to always start with a plain scone base, separating out enough for a few scones to appease us fussy kids, before adding some sultanas, cheese or cherries to the rest of the dough for the grown ups.
In theory, scones are incredibly easy to make. You start by sifting your flour, salt and baking powder into a large bowl. Next your rub into the butter with your finger tips, before stirring through the sugar. Finally you add the liquid – in case milk & yoghurt – before gently mixing all the ingredients together to create a soft, sticky dough.
You’ll then take your dough and flatten it out on a well-floured worksurface, before cutting your scones to your desired size. Next you pop them onto a baking sheet, before brushing with a little milk and baking in a hot oven for about 10 minutes.
Like I say, easy in theory. But scones can take a bit of practice to master. Take a look at Granny’s Top Tips below for all our tried and tested methods for perfect scones.
Yes, you can make scones with plain flour. In fact, my recipe for Fruit Scones uses plain flour. However, you will need to add the raising agents that you would usually find in self-raising flour – without any raising agents your scones will be like rocks. And not in a nice Rock Buns kind of way!
The general rule of thumb is to add 2 teaspoons of baking powder for every 150g of plain flour. So in this recipe you would use 5 teaspoons of baking powder as there is 450g of flour, not forgetting the additional 2 teaspoons of baking powder that the recipe calls for too. So in total, 7 teaspoons of baking powder.
In short, no. Scones do not need eggs. However, some recipes will add an egg to their scone mix, and some people will even insist this is a necessity. I disagree. And if you try this Plain Scone recipe I’m sure you will agree that an egg is not missed.
Adding an egg to scones can add a certain richness, as well as extra moisture. In fact, my Victoria Scones do use an egg, so I’m not entirely against the idea of eggs in scones. But for your everyday scone it just isn’t necessary. These scones are not dry, and they are plenty rich. By keeping to a traditional no-egg scone mix, you also make them much more affordable, and the perfect thing to make when you want to bake but don’t have any eggs left!
Absolutely! Scones freeze very well in fact.
Like most homemade bakes, scones are best enjoyed on the day you make them – especially fresh from the oven. But if you want to make them in advance, or you simply can’t finish an entire batch in one go, freezing them is great idea.
Pop them into a freezer bag and simply take a scone out at a time when you want to eat them. Ideally you would leave them to defrost at room temperature but you can defrost them in the microwave too. I like my scones warm so I will heat them in the microwave, or even the toaster, to warm them up before enjoying.
Self-raising FlourScones are generally quite dense in texture but there are a few elements in the ingredients that help prevent them from being like biting into a rock. One of those is the raising agents. Self-raising flour already has a raising agent incorporated…as the name would suggest.
Only got plain flour to hand? Take a look above at the “Can I use plain flour in scones?” for how to make that work for you.
Baking PowderAs well as the raising agent in the flour, baking powder adds a bit of lift to scones. Baking powder is a convenient choice as it is a ready-mixed leavening agent, generally made of bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar (usually some cornflour too). In fact, our Fruit Scone Recipe simply uses a combination of bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar, as opposed to baking powder.
Caster SugarIn terms of scones, Plain Scones would fall into the “rich scone” category. Traditionally this would also mean the addition of an egg alongside the sugar, however in this recipe the caster sugar is all that is called for.
Margarine or ButterIn terms of flavour, butter is always king when it comes to baking scones. However, when it comes to texture, a decent block margarine can be just as good. You want your butter/margarine to be cold though, as this will allow you to crumble it into the flour & sugar without it turning to mush; instead you want it to make a sand-like consistency. It is these little “grains” of buttery sand that will melt during baking, leaving a beautiful air-pocketed texture within your scones.
MilkThe liquid that brings it all together. You can use whichever milk you prefer, but a full-fat milk produces the richest scones. Dairy-alternative milks also work great in scones, with soya being my personal favourite.
YoghurtNot a traditional addition for scone recipe purists, however the choice to add yoghurt to your recipe goes beyond taste – more-so, it is science! The acid in the yoghurt reacts with the alkaline in baking powder, causing a chemical reaction. For those like myself who never excelled in chemistry…it basically makes some bubbles in your batter and in turn, an even lighter textured scone.The choice of yoghurt is yours however. A plain yoghurt is great, as it a soya yoghurt or a coconut yoghurt (what is used in these photos). Generally speaking, you want to use a yoghurt that isn’t too sweet or flavoured. Common alternatives that can be used in the same way as yoghurt include buttermilk and sour cream.
• For great scones you want cold ingredients and a hot oven. Use margarine/butter that is a little cold and ensure you fully pre-heat your oven.
• Try to get as much air into your dough by sifting the dry ingredients from a bit of height and raising your fingers as you rub in the butter.
• Scones require a soft touch so don’t be too rough with your mixing and kneading.
• Put down the rolling pin! Simply stretch out your dough with your hands. And always leave it a little thicker than you think you should.
• When you cut your scones from the dough DO NOT twist your cookie cutter. This will twist the edges of the dough and prevent them from rising as well. And by doing so, you will make Granny want to cry.
• Always leave your scones to rest before baking. This lets the gluten in the flour rest & calm down a little. 10 minutes is ideal but if you can do longer, even better. I’ll usually do my dishes during this time.
• A beaten egg gives the best colour to scones when brushed on top but milk is my personal preference. Just be careful that you don’t let it run down the sides of your scones or it could effect the rise.
Nut-free: There are no nuts used in this Plain Scone recipe but, as always, be sure to double check your individual ingredients allergens list.
Dairy-free: To make this a dairy-free Plain Scones recipe, simply use a dairy-free milk, yoghurt & margarine.
Vegan: As there is no egg in this scone recipe, simply follow the dairy-free tips above to make these a Vegan Plain Scones recipe. The scones pictured are actually vegan, made with dairy-free margarine, soya milk and yoghurt.
This recipe is very confusing as, at the top, it states 7tsp of baking powder but, in the list of ingredients, it states only 2tsp. Can you please clarify for me? Thank you
I think the seven teaspoons referred to using plain flour whereas the recipe is using self raising flour which already has a raising agent in it.
Hi Allie. As Marilyn says, the 7 teaspoons teaspoons is in answer to the question “Can you make scones with plain flour?” This is because plain flour doesn’t have any raising agents (ie. baking powder) already present, so you need to add this on top of the usual amount of baking powder. The recipe as standard uses Self-raising Flour though, so only 2 teaspoons of baking powder is required. Sorry that this confused you.
Gosh, I would never have thought to add yoghurt with the milk when making scones. It’s certainly not an ingredient of choice that we learnt when learning Home Economics many years ago. There was two scone recipes that we followed at school. One was from “The Australian Country Women’s Association” + the other one was from our text book, titled “Cookery the Australian Way” . This text book was rather infamous over several decades of students. To my knowledge it was in print from the early 1960’s + edited bi-yearly + was still the prescribed textbook in the early 2000’s. I wonder if it still is. I have my dog-eared, food stained book still from 1974 + it still gets consulted when I’m after certain recipes. (Hope my Trip Down Memory Lane hasn’t been too boring for you. OopsieDaisy.)
I have sent a copy of this to a friend who, although delicious, her scones don’t seem to rise for her. They just spread across the cooking tray. Stay tuned to see how she does after this master class. Personally, I just love eating them, no matter what shape they happen to be!!
Why 2 baking sheets for 12 scones?
Hi Heather. I recommend two baking sheets to allow a bit of space between your scones, if making the 12 that the recipe suggests. If you have large baking sheets, or are making fewer [larger] scones, you could probably just use one baking sheet.
Hi I’m from South Africa I always use plain yogurt in my scones and it’s nice and soft
Hello, Would this recipe work if I add a handful of raisins or other dried fruit?
Hi Jen. Yes, this recipe works as a great base for other scones, including raisins and other dried fruits.
I haven’t make the recipe yet. I want to ask if I can use xiletol instead of caster sugar?
Hi Amanda. I don’t really have any experience of using sweeteners when baking so I wouldn’t be able to say for sure. If you do give it a go, let me know the results!
Scones have to be baked quickly in a hot oven so I do not know why 10 minutes of rest before brushing. This is perhaps the reason for ‘spreading’ described by another person. Scones need to be placed close to there for better rising.
(Cannot delete or edit the old mistake- ridden post)
Hi Desiree. As explained above, the rest period is to allow the gluten to relax a little before baking – avoiding tough scones and instead resulting in nice soft ones! I believe the comment you are referring to wasn’t actually in regards to this recipe but another recipe that someone’s friend had used. Give it a go next time you make scones – you can thank me later! ;)
Can i make these gluten free?
Help! Love the recipe, but I am in US. Has anyone converted to non metric? Thanks
Hi, Thanks for some epic recipes and this plain Scone one is no exeption, worked a treat and I’m a relatively new Baker! Thank you so much for sharing, however , if I may, there is a small discrepancy with the maths for substituting plain flour for self raising. In the paragraph about this, you state that 2 tsps of baking powder for every 150g of plain flour to account for the lack of rising agents in plain flour. You then go on to say: thatbecause the recipe has 450g of flour that would be 5 tsps when in fact it is 6. 150 + 150 + 150 = 450 Grams of plain flour. 2 + 2 + 2 = 6 Tsps of baking powder Plus another two that the recipes calls for, so 8 in total not 7 as stated. Sorry to be pedantic, just trying to help. Keep up the good work and thank you once again.
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