Mar 02 2011

A New Appreciation

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 egg

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1/2 cup chopped dried apricots (or a fruit of your choice)

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon milk

Turbinado sugar


  1. 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.
  2. Add the butter pieces and use your hands to mix the butter in, while breaking it up into pea-sized pieces.
  3. In a smaller bowl, mix together the yogurt and egg.
  4. 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.
  5. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface.  Flour your hands and form the dough into an 8 inch circle.
  6. 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.
  7. Put the wedges onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  Brush the scones lightly with the egg wash and sprinkle with the Turbinado sugar.
  8. 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.