When Nigella Lawson, British celebrity TV personality, cook and author of How To Be A Domestic Goddess, claims these are the best scones she’s ever eaten, then you must make them. These cream scones rise beautifully and have such a light texture. They just melt in your mouth and are dreamy. Cream scones are plain – no added fruit or flavors. I love them because you can flavor with the jam of your choosing. This is a small batch recipe from an old-fashioned cookbook. It’s quick and easy, with minimal clean up making them the perfect scone for any event. Don’t forget the clotted cream and jam! Here’s my version of Nigella’s Lily’s Scones with a few adaptations.
500 grams pastry flour
4 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced (prefer Plugra or Kerrygold)
2 Tablespoons vegetable shortening, diced (substitute with more butter)
1 1/3 cups combination of equal parts of whole milk and heavy whipping cream
egg wash – 1 large beaten egg with a dash of water
HERE’S HOW I MADE THEM
I used a scale to weigh the flour. Weighing gives you an exact measurement. Cup measuring is not as exact and you can end up with too much flour in the mix, resulting in a dense bake. If you only have cups, measure 3 1/3 cups of flour (sift first, then spoon measure and level off with the back of a knife). I used pastry flour because it’s made of soft wheat flour (AP is a combination of soft and hard wheat flour). I also used half milk, half heavy cream because after all, these are cream scones. Finally, I baked them at 425°F for 10 minutes like Paris Loves Pastry. Nigella bakes them at 450°F, but I think that’s too hot.
You don’t need an electric mixer for this recipe – just a bowl and spatula. Sift the pastry flour, cream of tartar and baking soda into a large bowl. Add salt and whisk to combine. Rub in the cold butter and shortening with your fingers until the mixture looks like damp sand. Add all the milk/cream at once and mix briefly. Briefly is the key word. Dump onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly to form a dough.
Tip for warm hands: Hold a couple ice cubes for a few seconds to make them colder, then dry off with a kitchen towel before rubbing the fat into the flour.
Fold the dough in half, then roll out to about 1 1/4 inch thickness. This helps create layers. Dip a 2 1/2 inch cutter in flour, so it doesn’t stick to the dough, and cut out 10 scones. Gather the scraps, re-roll and cut out 2 more scones. Try cutting close together so you only gather the dough once. Overworking the dough develops the gluten in the flour and makes for a tough scone.
CUTTING TIP: Cut straight down and pull the cutter up. Resist the urge to twist. Twisting pinches the dough and retards the growth while baking. No one wants a flat scone.
Place the scones on a parchment lined baking sheet and chill for 20-30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425°F while the scones chill. Remove from the fridge and brush the tops with the egg wash. Bake for 10 minutes until risen and golden. Mine were perfect at the 10 minute mark.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly and serve. These are best enjoyed warm with clotted cream and your favorite jam/jelly.
Cream tea has been served throughout the United Kingdom since the 11th century and its people feel very strongly about the order of the toppings. Those from Devon spread the clotted cream first followed by jam and those from Cornwall spread the jam first followed by clotted cream. I’m team Devon because that’s how I shmear my bagels. Which team are you?
Note: Clotted Cream is cooked to separate the fat from the liquid and Double Cream separates over time making it lighter. I buy mine at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Fresh Market.
This is indeed the best cream scone I’ve had. The cream of tartar is the key ingredient In this recipe. I hope you try them and leave a comment below.
Classic Cream Scones
These truly are the best plain cream scones! No wonder Nigella Lawson calls these "the best plain scones I've ever eaten". Light and melt in your mouth. Perfect for any time.
- 500 grams pastry flour or 3 ⅓ cups (sift then spoon into cup)
- 4 ½ teaspoons cream of tartar
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt prefer Diamond brand
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted cold butter, diced use good butter like Plugra or Kerrygold
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable shortening, diced substitute with extra butter
- 1 ⅓ cups combination of equal parts whole milk & heavy whipping cream
- egg wash – 1 beaten egg with a splash of water
Sift the pastry flour, cream of tartar and baking soda into a large bowl. Add salt and whisk to combine.
Rub in the cold butter and shortening with your fingers until the mixture looks like damp sand.
Add all the milk/cream at once and mix briefly. Briefly is the key word.
Dump onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly to form a dough. Fold dough in half and roll out to 1¼ inch thickness. Use 2½ inch cutter to punch out scones.
Note: Dip cutter in flour to prevent sticking and press cutter down and pull straight up to remove. Don't twist. Twisting pinches the dough.
Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat oven 425°F and place oven rack in the center while dough is chilling.
Remove from fridge and brush the tops with egg wash.
Bake at 425°F for 10 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and slightly cool. Serve warm with clotted cream and your favorite jam. Enjoy!
Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Lily’s Scones.
Tip: Warm hands melt butter quickly. I like to hold a few ice cubes before working with dough. It helps keep my hands cooler.