What is a Scone and Where Did They Come From?

Image by Slacker Mark on FlickrFew things are quite as delicious as the warmth of a fresh box of cookies and a hot cup of coffee, tea or cocoa - except maybe a scone. As you bite into your next scone, whether it’s from your oven or at your local gourmet coffee outlet, though, you may wonder exactly where scones come from.

For those who may not appreciate scones quite as much as they should, a quick understanding of this delicious treat may be in order. Scones are basically a sweetened version of a biscuit. They’re a quick bread recipe, and like so many, they typically use baking powder to rise. The key here, though, is that they come in single servings. While many Americans slot them into the pastry category, thanks to the baking powder, they’re not technically supposed to be there because they don’t use yeast to rise.

Historically, these delicious treats are Scottish in nature. They’re quite common throughout the UK, though. The initial reference to this treat didn’t show up in literature until 1513, and that came from a Scottish poet. The chances are good, though, that people were eating a version of these far before that. While it’s hard to tell exactly where these come from, it is clear that the original recipes were made with oats. Cooks would shape them into big, round loaves, then score that into about six triangular pieces. From there, they’d put it on a griddle and cook it over the fire. As ovens became more popular, they were shaped into individual pieces and baked.

Traditional scones include a number of different ingredients. Raisins and currants are quite common, but so are plain scones, enhanced with jam and preserves after they’ve been baked. With the addition of scones to gourmet coffee menus everywhere, though, you’ll see quite a variety of ingredients these days. From cranberries and dates to chocolate chips of every kind to cinnamon and cheese and basil, there are so many different ways to prepare a scone now.

If you think you might want a great scone with your tea or coffee today, here are a few recipes that may help you get started.

Simple Scones from Allrecipes.com

Mix 2 cups of flour, 1/3 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder, ¼ teaspoon baking soda, and ½ teaspoon of salt in a large bowl. Grate 8 tablespoons of frozen butter into the mixture. Use your fingers to create a course meal. Stir in ½ cup of raisins. In a separate bowl, whisk ½ cup of sour cream and one large egg together. Stir the wet ingredients with the dry. Using your hands, create a sticky ball of dough. Pat into an 8 inch circle. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar. Cut the ball into 8 wedges. Place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

Blueberry Scones from Martha Stewart

Sift two cups flour, three tablespoons of sugar, and one tablespoon baking powder together in a bowl. Add in ¾ teaspoon of salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in 6 tablespoons of cold butter. Stir 1 ½ cups of fresh blueberries and 1 teaspoon lemon zest. In a separate bowl, whisk 1/3 cup of heavy cream and 2 large eggs together. Make a well in the dry mixture, then pour in the cream. Stir only until the dough comes together. Pat the dough into a 6 inch square, then cut into four 3 inch squares. Cut each of those in half to form a triangle. Place on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.

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