7 Baking Tips for Making Better Scones

The Food & Wine Test Kitchen is here to help you perfect your scone game.

Among the myriad baked goods in the breakfast pastry canon, scones are uniquely delicious in their humble simplicity. The best scones have a crisp, slightly caramelized exterior and a tender, buttery, just-sweet interior. They can be dressed up with a glaze, studded with fruit or nuts, or gently spiced. Whichever route you go, we're here to help you achieve scone perfection. These are F&W food editor Kelsey Youngman's favorite tips.

  1. For a better rise, use cold butter — or even frozen butter. The colder the better, and that extends beyond just ingredients, too. It's ideal to have a chilled bowl and pastry cutter as well.
  2. When it comes to mixing, don't overdo it; mix until the dough just comes together. And although the food processor can help keep the temperature down, it's easy to over-mix, so use a pastry cutter instead, Youngman suggests. "It should look like pancake batter," she says. "Lumps are what you want!"
  3. Use pastry flour for the lightest scones. All-purpose plus pastry flour also works, but don't omit the pastry flour.
  4. "Once you've shaped your scones, chill them before baking," Youngman says. "You can use that time to preheat the oven so the kitchen doesn't heat up while you make the dough. The final chill relaxes the gluten which yields a tender texture. It also cools the butter down again, which is how you'll get that flaky texture."
  5. Spacing: "I usually space the scones about one inch apart if they are separate wedges. Keep 'em cozy," Youngman says. If you're making round scones, you can try baking them like cinnamon rolls, where they're actually touching, which will give you nice, soft sides.
  6. If you're adding fruit, don't use super juicy fruit, and make sure you rinse and dry it well. If you're using frozen fruit, you don't need to thaw it if the fruit is individually frozen. If the fruit is in one big chunk, however, thaw, rinse, and drain it as best as you can.
  7. As King Arthur says, "a scone is not a cupcake." Don't overbake them, and remember they're meant for clotted cream, butter, and jam!

Now that you're equipped with our key pieces of advice, check out these great scone recipes.

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