Traditional Afternoon Tea Scones

A favorite recipe of Pamela Foster, a culinary historian fascinated by the post Edwardian period of Downton Abbey.

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. frozen grated butter
½ cup cold milk

Makes 8 2-inch scones


Preheat oven to 475°F.

Sift the dry ingredients three times into a large bowl. Rub the frozen grated butter into the dry ingredients until it feels like sand. Add enough milk just until you get sticky dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, lightly flour the top. Knead very gently once, then fold and turn the kneaded dough 3 or 4 times until the dough has formed a smooth texture. Pat the dough into a rectangle about 6" x 12", then fold into thirds.

Using a well-floured 2" biscuit cutter, make 6 x 2" rounds. You can get 2 more scones from the scraps but they won't be as tender. Alternatively, use a well-floured sharp knife to form wedges.

You can either brush the top of the scones with milk or lightly flour.

Bake on a baking sheet for 8-10 minutes until the scones are lightly colored on the tops. Immediately place onto cooling rack to stop the cooking process.

Traditionally served with clotted cream and preserves, try a healthier option of non-fat plain Greek yogurt with your favorite preserves.

Now that you have the basics you can let your imagination flow with variations. Here are some to get you going.


Buttermilk -- replace the milk with buttermilk, add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda, increase the fat to 4 tbsp.

Cream -- replace milk with cream; add ¼ tsp. of baking soda to the dry ingredients and glaze with cream.

Whole wheat -- replace half of the plain flour with whole-wheat flour.


Pumpkin -- add 2 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. nutmeg, 1 tsp. baking soda to dry ingredients, add 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree, adding only enough milk to make sticky dough.

Chocolate -- add 1/4 cup of cocoa powder to the dry ingredients and add 1/4 plain yogurt to the wet.

Glazed -- lightly brush preserves on scones before baking to create a sweet glaze.

Dried Fruit -- add ¼ cup dried fruit (e.g. sultanas, raisins, currents, cranberries, cherries, etc.) and 1 tablespoon (15 gm) sugar.

Berries -- add 1/4 cup of fresh or frozen fruit, finely chopped.

Whole wheat and fruit -- replace half of the plain flour with whole-wheat flour and add 1/4 cup chopped fruit.


Cheese and Chive -- add ½ teaspoon tsp. cayenne, 1/4 -1/2 cup grated cheese and 2 tbsp. of fresh herbs.

Herb -- include 3 tablespoons of finely chopped herbs (such as parsley, dill, chives, etc.) to the dry ingredients.