My husband loves scones. Historically, they haven't done much for me. If I'm at a bakery debating between a muffin, a cookie, a cupcake, or a scone, a scone is always my last choice. At their worst, scones are truly awful (though I guess that sentiment can be applied to nearly anything): rock hard, dry, flavorless.
But at their best, say during an afternoon tea break at this particular place in London, I could eat a whole tray of them. (Especially when paired with clotted cream!) There's a reason that scones pair so well with afternoon tea--this type of quickbread originated in Scotland.
The stickiness of the dough leads to--ideally--a golden brown exterior and a light and soft interior. What's the difference between a scone and a biscuit? I recently took a biscuit & scone class at local bakery. I'd hoped to come away with a quick explanation, but I didn't. A bit of sleuthing in a few cookbooks and online led me to this conclusion:
Beyond the difference in shape, scones tend to be richer and use a bit more liquid than biscuits. Biscuits usually contain buttermilk, whereas scones have oats and even yogurt in them.
I still don't think that's a completely accurate description of their differences. If I tasted the two in a blind taste test, I could easily tell the difference. But on paper, I can't articulate a huge difference between one and the other.
Though I didn't leave the class with a better understanding of their differences, I did bring home two tried and true recipes, one for scones and one for biscuits. I made these standard yogurt scones and then added half a cup of chopped dried apricots. They turned out exactly how I wanted them to: fluffy, moist, and packed with flavor. Perfect for an afternoon snack or breakfast. Or both.
Yogurt Scones with Dried Apricots
Adapted from a One Girl Cookies recipe
1 cup rolled oats
1.25 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots (or a fruit of your choice)
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon milk
- Preheat the oven to 350. In a bowl, combine the oats, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking sod, and salt. Use a wooden spoon to combine.
- Add the butter pieces and use your hands to mix the butter in, while breaking it up into pea-sized pieces.
- In a smaller bowl, mix together the yogurt and egg.
- Using a spatula, fold the egg and yogurt mixture into the flour mixture. Add the apricot pieces. Mix together gently until the dough is sticky.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Flour your hands and form the dough into an 8 inch circle.
- Using a knife or pastry cutter (make sure the edge is floured, also!), cut the circle into 8 wedges. Combine the egg yolk and milk in a small bowl.
- Put the wedges onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush the scones lightly with the egg wash and sprinkle with the Turbinado sugar.
- Bake the scones for about 14 minutes. Rotate the pan and then bake for 12-15 more minutes, until the tops of the scones are lightly golden. Remove the scones to cool completely.