These scones are so tender and moist, they will melt in your mouth. These are by far the best scone I’ve ever had.
*Lots of baking science ahead! You’re welcome to skip to the recipe, but make sure you read the abbreviated list of tips at the end for best results!*
I’ve always been a huge fan of scones. My first experience with them was at a local coffee shop called The Coffee Grounds. They have these massive, delicious drop scones with a rotating variety of flavors. I loved how they weren’t super sweet, but they had lots of crunch. I even liked that they were more on the dry side. Most of all, I loved how easily editable the scones were. Somedays they were lemon poppyseed, or chocolate chip, or coconut butterscotch. The varieties were endless.
So this week when I get diagnosed with pneumonia, all I’ve wanted to eat is pizza, sandwiches from Erbert’s and Gerbert’s and yup, you guessed it, Coffee Grounds scones. So so delicious!
Today, I bring you a scone recipe that is not dry, nor boring. These are tender, moist, fall-apart-in-your-mouth delicious little pieces of heaven. I don’t think I can even describe how delicious these were. I personally think they’re one of the best things I’ve ever baked, but I’ve said that about six times in the past two weeks.
I must tell you about the caramel glaze. The glaze, oh the glaze. That glaze absolutely blew me away. I made the glaze before I made the scones so it had a chance to cool. I could’ve stood over the pan and eaten spoonful after spoonful. The scones were fantastic without the glaze, but the glaze took them to infinity and beyond. Scones aren’t supposed to be ultra sweet, so the glaze added that extra shot of sweetness. However, you’re welcome to forgo the glaze and sprinkle the scones with powdered sugar and your experience will be just as heart-pounding!
Scones are basically a baking science geek’s dream! So here goes the science! I hope you’re excited because I know I am. I am going to explain how to bake light textured, moist, melt-in-your-mouth scones.
Before you even begin making your scones, the first trick/step is to freeze the butter. Frozen butter yields soft, melt-in-your-mouth scones. Why? When the scones are baking, the frozen butter, as opposed to refrigerated butter, takes longer to melt and produces little pockets of steam in the scone. This yields more tender, fluffy scones. So put that butter in the freezer! Let the butter freeze for up to an hour. When you’re ready to use the butter, cut it up into small pieces. I preferred to cut it up because the frozen butter is so cold that it fractures easily and splits into small pieces with only a few knife strokes.
Scones can be dry and tough because of how the mixing method used to prepare the dough. The key is to not over work/over mix the dough. During the first step, you must gently cut the frozen butter into the flour mixture, with either your fingers or a pastry cutter, so the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. There were a few chunks of butter that I didn’t bother making any smaller, and that’s okay!
In the second step, when you add the liquids to the flour, the liquid makes the flour go crazy. When you add liquid to flour, the glutenin and gliadin proteins begin to form gluten networks. The beauty of flour is that it can form gluten networks, but we only want lots of gluten formation if we’re making bread. For scones, cakes or cookies, we’d like to minimize gluten formation. If you over work the dough at this stage, it will form tremendous amounts of gluten networks and you’ll have tough, dry scones. So how do you avoid these gluten networks? Drizzle the liquid over the flour and then gently fold the liquid in. Stop mixing when the liquid is just incorporated.
When you’re adding mix-ins to your scones, do so very gently and avoid over mixing in this step. I just folded in the chocolate chips. To maximize the amount of chocolate in every bite, I also sprinkled the top of the scones with more chocolate chips.
And the final little science note relates to the liquids. Heavy whipping cream is an excellent ingredient to add richness and smoothness because of it’s high fat content, but I didn’t want to blow your calorie budget for the day on a scone. Instead, I used half sour cream. I love sour cream in baked goods. Sour cream adds so much moisture. If a recipe has an acidic liquid, like buttermilk, sour cream or even lemon juice, you must add baking soda to react with the acid. So to offset the acidity of the sour cream, I added a little baking soda to the recipe.
An abbreviated list of tips for those perfect, moist, delicious scones:
- Use frozen butter! This takes longer to melt when baking and produces lots of air pockets for soft, flaky scones.
- Do not over work the dough at any point. Only combine the liquids with the dry ingredients just so that the dry ingredients is moistened.
- Gently fold in your mix-ins.
- Sour cream and heavy whipping cream add loads of moisture! Don’t replace the heavy whipping cream because it does add that shot of richness and smoothness.
This is a very basic chocolate chip scone, but like the scones at the Coffee Grounds, you could easily make this recipe your own. You could ditch the brown sugar and cinnamon and replace it with granulated sugar for a classic vanilla scone. You could add coconut, butterscotch chips, oats, fruit, poppy seeds, nuts, basically anything. You could ditch the glaze and sprinkle sugar for a crunchy top. Or you could try a totally different glaze altogether! Scones are a blank canvas. They are your playground! Have at it.
The scones are the Coffee Grounds were drop scones, as opposed to these cut up scones, so I think I will try this recipe as a drop scone recipe next. Any suggestions for mix ins?
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did. They received rave reviews at work. One of the best things I’ve ever heard about my baking was: “Brita, these were the best scones I’ve ever eaten. Not just because I like you, but like if I were a food critic, I would say these were the best scones ever.” So, seriously, GO MAKE THEM!”
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup dark brown sugar (or light brown sugar)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or ½ teaspoon depending on how much cinnamon flavor you'd like)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 8 Tablespoons butter, frozen
- ¼ cup sour cream (or Greek yogurt)
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Caramel Glaze:
- ¼ cup butter
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- ⅓ cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- For the scones:
- A few hours before: place a stick of butter in the freezer.
- Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda cinnamon, and salt.
- Remove the frozen butter from the freezer and chop in into small pieces. You may also grate it or food process it, but I found that chopping into tiny pieces worked the best because the butter is so cold that it will splinter into small pieces. Add the butter to the flour mixture and use your fingers or a pastry cutter to mix in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the heavy whipping cream, sour cream, egg, and vanilla. Drizzle it over the flour mixture and then slowly mix the mixture together with a rubber spatula until everything appears just moistened. Slowly and carefully fold in the chocolate chips. Be careful not to overwork the dough.
- On a floured surface, form the scones into a rectangle. Cut into four equal sized columns. Then cut three equal sized rows. There should be twelve squares. Cut each square in half so they're little triangles. (Here is a great visual on how to cut the scones. This recipe yields more scones than mine, but it's a good reference.)
- Place on the parchment lined pan and spread them about two inches apart. You should be able to fit all of the scones onto one pan. They don't rise much, so this will work just fine.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden and cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. Then cut each triangle in half again, if desired.
- These scones are so fantastic, the glaze is not necessarily! If you prefer no glaze, sprinkle with powdered sugar.
- For the glaze:
- In a small saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar and cream. Bring to a boil over medium heat, storing constantly. Once the mixture reaches a rolling boil, let boil for a minute and then remove from the heat; cool for 10 minutes. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar until smooth. The powdered sugar will clump at first, but if you continue to beat the mixture, it will smooth out. Drizzle over scones