Recipe (and a book review): Traditional Scones

This last week has been a bit of a book-lover’s paradise. On the one hand, I have been finishing up my review of Alexa Adams’ latest novel, Darcy in Wonderland. This is a delightful mash-up of Pride and Prejudice and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and is suitable for readers (and tea-drinkers) of all ages. Then, on the other hand, I have been enjoying the wonderful company of another author, Sophia Meredith, who was visiting the area for a few days on the way to a family wedding. (I’ve reviewed Ms. Meredith’s books elsewhere in this blog, and I’m most proud to call her a  friend.)


Illustration by Katy Wiedemann

So what is a foodie to do when confronted with Alice in Wonderland and a writer of historical romance in my house? The answer is simple: Bake something. The question of what to bake was easily answered. Alice must go to a tea party, and a tea party must include scones.

Most people here in Canada, at least, associate scones with those large crumbly biscuit-like things that you get at Starbucks to go with your extra-dry venti cappu-something. If that’s what you’re hoping for, sorry. Maybe another time. Those are good, but they’re not what I’m thinking about. I’m thinking about the elegant treats my mother used to make for tea parties back in South Africa. They are smaller and round, topped with butter and jam and blobs of clotted or whipped cream.  While quite suitable to accompany coffee, they are really best served alongside a pot of steaming tea.

Of course, tea is lovely shared with friends, but it’s equally good if sipped quietly while reading a terrific book, or at least reading a great book review. Check out my review of Darcy in Wonderland and see for yourself if you think the book would go well with tea and scones.


I’ve tried so many recipes for scones over the years, but I keep coming back to this one that my mother gave me. I’ve tweaked it slightly (because that’s what I do), but it is almost exactly the one I enjoyed so much as a child. I hope you enjoy these as much I do.


Traditional Tea Scones

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 TBSP granulated sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 425F.

In a large bowl, quickly mix the dry ingredients till combined, then add in the butter. With your fingers, rub the butter into the flour mixture. It will begin to resemble course damp sand. It need not be perfect, but don’t leave large and obvious chunks of butter. This takes very little time, so don’t get intimidated.

Add the egg and mix in, and then add the milk. Start with a bit less than what you’ve measured and mix well. You can use a paddle beater for this. Add as much milk as necessary to get a very sticky, but still workable dough. Depending on your climate, you might need to add as much as 3/4 cup of milk in total.

Form the dough into small balls, and space them out on a cookie sheet. A silicon baking sheet or a layer of wax or parchment paper will help them not stick, but it’s not vital. You can make the balls whatever size you like, but I find that 1-1/2 inches in diameter is a good place to start.

Bake at 425F for 10 to 15 minutes. They should be nice and golden on the outside.

Let cool slightly, then cut them in half. Top with a thin layer of butter, a thicker layer of your favourite jam, and a dollop of clotted cream or whipped cream, and enjoy with a cup of tea and a good book.


Illustration by Katy Wiedemann

3 thoughts on “Recipe (and a book review): Traditional Scones

  1. Pingback: Book Review (and a recipe): Darcy in Wonderland by Alexa Adams | Musings from the Yellow Kitchen

  2. Thanks for another recipe associated with a JAFF book! I was just comparing the way you shape your scones with the way I’ve always done it. All of the recipes I’ve ever seen tell us to roll the dough out once it’s mixed and then to cut the scones out using a pastry cutter. I’ve never seen one telling us to shape them like this before. Maybe it’s because your dough is quite a bit wetter than I’m used to. Perhaps I’ll try it your way next time. They look yummy! Hubby and I are rather fond of what we Brits call a “cream tea” – scone, butter, jam, cream (preferably clotted) and a lovely cup of tea.

    • Almost every other recipe I’ve seen has the dough rolled out and cut into the shapes, but I find that I have to add so much flour to make the dough workable that the resulting scones are tough. As an aside, the original recipe used almost half again as much milk as I’ve used here, but that was a recipe designed for Johannesburg, which is very high and very dry. Where I am now (Toronto) is almost sea-level and quite humid, which makes all the difference when playing with dough. So even with a lot less liquid, this is still a very sticky dough.

      If you try this, let me know how it works for you.

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