Perfect for brunch or as part of your afternoon tea time, these English Raisin Scones with Apple Jam are slightly sweet, fluffy, unique version of the popular British pastry.
Oh, LOOK! Look who’s so fancy, making English scones! And homemade jam – what the whaaaaat?!
Listen, you guys know I love to bake all the things, but usually things like scones and biscuits and croissants I just leave to the experts.
You know, local bakeries and those familiar blue cans – those experts.
But sometimes, that motivated baker hops right out of me, and it makes me want to fire up my kitchen like it’s the night before Christmas and I’m about to have a house full of people over.
Except, in this case, I had to eat most of these raisin scones myself. Pity me.
I know what this looks like, my American brethren. I know it just looks like a batch of biscuits, but I swear to you, they’re so much more.
Take your favorite biscuit. Imagine it a little bit sweeter, studded with juicy raisins, then filled with clotted cream (which you can find at World Market here in the U.S. – just to keep it authentic) and warm, homemade apple jam.
That’s a British scone.
Now carry that image to your own kitchen table on a warm spring day. Set those fluffy babies down next a fresh pot of Earl Grey and a stack of glossy magazines and a new book you just picked up.
Or…next to your fully charged cell phone (I got you, my millennial friends.)
In the UK, raisin scones like these are eaten any day of the week.
Here in the US, scones sound like a weekend brunch kind of treat – but it’s the 21st century, friends, and brunch doesn’t have to be exclusive to Sunday anymore! It doesn’t have to be an elaborate affair, either. Scones and tea are enough, especially when the insane amount of tenderness makes it hard to stop eating them.
Tips for making perfect scones
- Use cold ingredients. It’s important to use cold butter, buttermilk, and eggs to create a flaky, light texture. Using cold ingredients also prevents the butter from melting too quickly, which can result in a tough, dense scone.
- Don’t overwork the dough. Over-mixing ingredients results in overworking the dough, which can cause your scones to become tough and dry.
- Use a light touch. When you’re patting out the dough and cutting the scones, use your hands instead of a rolling pin, and be sure to use a light touch to prevent dense and heavy scones.
- Use good quality ingredients. You’re enjoying these scones, so use quality raisins, flour, vanilla, and other ingredients to give them the best possible flavor.
- Bake properly. Place the scones in a 500 degree F oven to help them dome nicely, then drop the temperature to 425 degrees F (200-220°C) and bake them for 10-15 minutes. This will help the scones come out a lovely golden brown color, while keeping their insides moist and tender.
How to make easy raisin scones
- Preheat your oven to 500 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat and set it aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the cold butter using a pastry cutter, or massage it in lightly with your fingers, until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in the sugar and raisins (less or more if you’d like sweeter or less sweet scones). Use your fingers or a spoon to create a well in the center of the mixture.
- Add the buttermilk and vanilla, then stir the mixture lightly until a shaggy, rough dough forms.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead it a few times to smooth it out, then gently press it out into a 1-inch thick round and cut individual scones out using a 2-1/4-inch biscuit cutter.
- Gather the dough scraps and form a ball, press it out again, and repeat the process. Place the scones on the prepared baking sheet, leaving an inch or two of room between them, then brush the tops with a beaten egg.
- Place the baking sheet in the oven, reduce the heat to 425 degrees F, and bake the scones for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they’re golden brown and baked through.
Are scones supposed to be dry or moist?
To achieve a moist and tender scone, it’s important to use the right amount of fat, and to handle the dough gently to avoid overworking it. Additionally, baking the scones at the right temperature and for the right amount of time helps to ensure that they come out perfectly moist and tender.
Is buttermilk or heavy cream better for scones?
Buttermilk is acidic, which helps to tenderize the gluten in the flour and create a more delicate crumb. Scones made with buttermilk tend to be slightly tangy and have a lighter texture.
Heavy cream is rich and adds a buttery flavor and a dense, moist texture to scones. Scones made with heavy cream tend to be richer and more indulgent.
What do you eat with scones?
Clotted cream and jam. A classic combination for sweet scones.
Butter and honey. A simpler topping.
Citrus curd. Lemon, lime, orange – they’re all perfect pairs.
Fresh fruit (and whipped cream). Berries or sliced peaches or pears, plus a dollop of sweet whipped cream, is heaven!
Cream cheese and smoked salmon. For the lochs lovers out there.
Tea or coffee: Scones are often enjoyed with a cup of tea or coffee. The warm, comforting pastry pairs well with a hot beverage.
Tea sandwiches. Cucumber, egg salad, and pimento cheese are classic two-bite sandwich options, but you can even go with Tuna Salad or a dolled-up Summer Avocado Chicken Salad Sandwich for something even more filling.
Other small desserts. Tea towers often come with small, two bite desserts. Try whipping up my Mini Pecan Pie Tarts, Mini Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecakes, or Strawberry Rosé Profiteroles and serve them together.
Out of Buttermilk?
Go ahead and add 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar, or 2 1/2 teaspoons of cream of tartar to the milk in this recipe. Stir it up and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before proceeding with mixing the batter. The acid will curdle the milk and act as a buttermilk substitute! It works like a charm, even though it looks a little gross when you add it to the batter.
Other buttermilk substitutes include:
- Buttermilk powder & milk (or water)
- A 3:1 ratio of sour cream & milk (or water)
- A 3:1 ratio of plain yogurt & milk (or water)
- Plant milks + acid of your choice
- Lactose-free milk + acid of your choice
Of course, you can always make this recipe with regular milk as well!
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English Raisin Scones with Apple Jam
- ⅔ cup buttermilk cold
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter cold, cubed
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ½ cup golden raisins
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg beaten
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 ½ pounds apples peeled, cored, & diced
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- Lemon juice to taste
- Clotted cream for serving (optional)
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat; set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Cut in butter and massage with pastry cutter or fingers until mixture resembles fine crumbs.
- Stir in sugar and raisins. Create a well in the center of the mixture.
- Add buttermilk and vanilla and stir lightly until a rough dough forms.
- Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface, kneading it a few times to smooth it out. Gently press the dough out to 1-inch thickness, and cut with a 2-1/4-inch biscuit cutter.
- Place the scones on a baking sheet, leaving about 1-2 inches between each.
- Gather dough scraps and form a ball, pressing it out and repeating the process once again.
- Brush the tops of the scones with beaten egg.
- Place baking sheet in oven, reduce the heat to 425 degrees, and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until light golden brown and baked through.
- Bring sugar and water to a boil in a medium pot over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil for about 4-5 minutes, swirling the pot occasionally, until mixture thickens and turns a deep amber color. Add diced apples, vanilla, and spices; stir to coat.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until apples have softened and most of the liquid has evaporated.
- Add lemon juice and stir to combine, using a wooden spoon to crush any larger apple bits. Cool, then serve with warm scones & clotted cream.