All About Scones
Almost Everything We Know About Scones
In its most basic form, a scone is a baked quick bread that is usually eaten for breakfast or tea. Since its earliest known origin, the scone has taken on many forms, all the way to what we know today in sophisticated sweet and savory gourmet versions.
The word “scone” originated from the Scottish word “skonn” which means “to cut, slice, or break off.” That makes sense. Traditional scones are bread-like biscuits that could be broken off of a larger dough.
The earliest scones were unleavened and typically made with oats and milk. They were often cooked on a griddle and served with butter, jam, honey, or clotted cream.
Today, scones are made with all sorts of ingredients like flour, sugar, butter, eggs, baking powder etc.
Scone Origin Stories Vary
Although the Scottish word “skonn” can be traced as an original term, another earlier etamology can be traced from the Middle English “schoonbrot” meaning “round cake”.
Oddly, in Scotland, a scone is called a bannock. This can be confusing because in Ireland, the word “bannock” refers to a flat round loaf of bread. Confused?
In whole, the history of the scone is a bit vague and not very well documented with some food historians saying that scones were invented by medieval monks while others say they were invented by Scottish settlers in America.
We will leave the true origins to the historians and just recognize that today’s scones originated in the old country, somewhere, somehow, and they evolved to where they are today — endless varieties, as can be witnessed on our menu each and every day.
Scones — Where We Are Today
The first written records of scones date back to the 16th century, when Scottish cooks would make them for breakfast. These early versions were usually made with oats and fruit, or sometimes just oatmeal without any other ingredients.
The English began making scones in the 18th century and added currants or raisins to their recipe. In America, bakers started using baking powder in place of yeast and adding sugar to sweeten scones.
Today, bakers experiment with vegan, keto, and gluten-free varieties in order to meet the demand of so many varied diets.
In our shop at Savannah Scone Company, we simply differentiate our two main categories by traditional and gourmet. Our traditional scones have no butter and instead use milk and flour, while our gourmet scones typically have flour, heavy cream and butter in the recipe.
Which Scone Condiments Are Available?
Scone condiments can vary almost as much as scone flavors, but there are three that ring traditional — clotted cream, lemon curd, and jam.
Clotted cream is a heavier baked cream with a consistency similar to soft cream cheese. It is somewhat sweet and is sometimes mistaken for higher-quality butter, although without the salt. Clotted cream is sometimes called Cornish Cream or Devonshire Cream. It may depend on the origin or who you’re talking to. If you’re really interested, check out this article.
Many versions of scone-related cream condiments have come onto the scene in more recent times. In our shop, we have recreated, to the best of our ability, a version of Devonshire cream that is as close to traditional clotted cream as we can get. In fact, the difference in taste and texture is virtually undetectable. Our Devonshire cream is made by blending multiple ingredients and it is not baked.
Real clotted cream is not for the impatient. It’s not a fast process. In order to render clotted cream, the cream must be heated for 12 hours and then cooled for another 8-10 hours! Once the cream is cooled, the fat (or cream) is separated from the liquid and you end up with exactly what you are looking for, that beautiful creamy goodness called clotted cream. Not a complex process time and patience are required to succeed.
How About Lemon Curd
Lemon curd is another traditional scone accouterment that is tasty and decadent. Lemon curd is typically a custard made with lemon juice, butter, sugar, and eggs.
We bend the rules slightly in our own bakery and offer a version of lemon curd that is delicious and more friendly than the traditional heavy custard style curd. It spreads easily and has the exact same delicious flavor.
This writer can tell you from experience that combining lemon curd and Devonshire cream as a condiment on a traditional scone is an experience everyone should have and one you won’t soon forget. So, when you go for scones next time, don’t forget the cream and curd.
I Have Clotted Cream and Lemon Curd. Now What?
If you have clotted cream and lemon curd, you’ve jumped over the highest hurdle. The rest is just fun and using your imagination. Traditionally, strawberry jam would be on the menu with scones and clotted cream. However, many choose other flavors of jam, even spicy versions. Fresh fruit preserves also make an excellent companion to clotted cream.
And guess what? Clotted cream is not necessary. If you find a jelly or jam that you love, that may be enough. Even sweet and savory butters make a great accoutrement. Whatever your tastebuds tell you, follow them. Traditional British scones are a great vessel for your favorite flavor add-ons.
A Traditional Clotted Cream Recipe
Creating clotted cream on your own isn’t difficult, just time-consuming. But, you may find it worth the wait.
You should start the journey 3 days before you need it, or plan to serve it. This may seem like a long time, but most of it can be done while you’re sleeping.
2 cups heavy cream (not ultra-pasteurized, check the label)
This recipe should yield about a cup of cream, which is about 16 servings.
Preparation | Day 1
- Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (Fahrenheit).
- Pour two cups of heavy cream into a shallow baking dish (glass or ceramic both work fine).
- The idea is to have a lot of surface area on top, so the cream should only come up the sides of the dish an inch or so. Two inches max.
- Place the cream in the preheated oven for 12 hours, uncovered. You can do this overnight if you don’t mind leaving your oven on at the low temp while you sleep. Some people are understandably skittish about this.
- After heating the cream for 12 hours, it will develop a noticeable skin on top. Remove the baking dish from the oven and let it cool until it comes to room temperature. Careful here.
- After cooling, cover the dish and refrigerate it for about 8 hours. You can do this again overnight.
- After the cream has cooled in the refrigerator, very gently skim the layer of clotted cream from the surface, leaving the thinner liquid in the baking dish. The skin should be very fine and will just mix into the cream.
- Stir the skimmed clotted cream gently to create a smooth texture. If the cream appears too thick, you can always use some of the remaining thin liquid to dilute and create the desired thickness. Remember to do this in very small increments, if necessary at all.
- You can safely store the finished cream in the refrigerator for up to a week.
- The remaining liquid can be used just like milk — it works great for baking.
- Some ovens have a feature that shuts them off after extended periods of time. This is for safety and many newer ovens have this feature. If this is the case with your oven, you may need to do the baking (clotting) step during the day, and at a time you can make sure your oven stays on during the entire process.
- Many ovens run hotter than normal at lower temps (in the 170-180 range). After the 12 hours, you may notice the cream has developed a darker brown skin. The skin on your cream should be a pale tan, if it darkens at all. If your oven runs hot, check the cream at around 8 hours and monitor along the way to see if the top is becoming darkened. One way to make sure your oven doesn’t overheat is to cycle it on and off during the process. If you want to be certain, you can purchase an oven thermometer to give you a more accurate reading. If the cream becomes dark, it doesn’t mean it is ruined. Your finished cream will just have a bit of a deeper/richer flavor. It may also have some small flecks of brown and not be the pure creamy white you expect. All good nonetheless.
Now You Know A Little More About Scones
Back To Scone Basics
Our gourmet scones are as popular as ever. Sweet and savory versions dominate our menu day in and day out, and customer line up for their favorites as our menu changes weekly. That said, sometimes we like to step back to the basics. Traditional British scones with our Devonshire cream and lemon curd or strawberry jam, along with a cup of tea, is the traditional scone experience that you must try to fully appreciate the teatime traditional.
There’s a reason the tradition of tea and scones has lasted centuries, even if we’ve gotten a little fancier in how we prepare the end result. It’s a staple for the Queen and a staple at Savannah Scone Company.
Want to get your scone journey started? Check out our menu and give us a call. We’ll be happy to take your order. Or, just stop in and visit the bakery. We’re open for retail Wed-Sat.