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Traditional English Buttermilk Scones With Currants

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These soft and fluffy English buttermilk scones are a big part of a traditional afternoon tea. But they also work well as part of a brunch menu, or as something different to serve instead of biscuits.

Traditional Buttermilk Scones

This simple recipe for traditional English buttermilk scones comes from my sister-in-law Mary.

It is really easy to cook and makes the best scones I have ever had.

They are light and fluffy and turn out every time.

Ingredients

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Scones ingredients | Traditional Buttermilk Scones

Here is your shopping list:

  • Baking supplies – 2 cups flour, 1 Tablespoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, pinch salt
  • Sugar – ¼ cup white granulated sugar, plus some extra for dipping if desired
  • Dairy – ¾ cup buttermilk, ½ cup margarine
  • Spices – pinch nutmeg
  • Dried fruit – ½ cup currants or raisins
  • Serve with: Clotted cream* (also known as Devonshire cream) and jam.

Substitutions

  • For a gluten-free version, substitute measure-for-measure gluten-free flour for the regular flour. I like King Arthur’s brand.
  • While I recommend using buttermilk for the best results, you can replace it with ¾ cup milk and a teaspoon of lemon juice in a pinch.
  • Substitute dried cranberries or other dried fruits for the currants if desired.
  • Or for plain scones, eliminate the dried fruit altogether.
Traditional English buttermilk scones on a plate

How to make scones with buttermilk

Prep work

Pre-heat the oven to 375℉.

Line a cookie sheet with some parchment paper.

This will prevent the bottom of the scones from burning and makes them easier to remove.

Mix the batter

flour in a bowl

Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda in a mixing bowl.

Use a pastry blender to cut the margarine into the flour mixture. If you don’t have a pastry blender, you can use two knives cutting in a cross wise motion to achieve the same results.

Keep cutting until the margarine has been reduced to pea sized pieces.

Mix in the salt, nutmeg and dried fruit.

Add the buttermilk.

Gently mix by hand until the mixture sticks together enough to be rolled out.

Do not use a beater for this. You will either end up with a bunch of crumbles or really tough scones.

Roll out the dough

Scones dough rolled out

Use the rolling pin to roll out the dough to about ¾ inch thick.

If you don’t have a rolling pin, you can use your hands to pat out the dough to this thickness.

Use a round cookie cutter or small glass with the edges dipped in flour to cut out circles from the dough.

If you have dough left over, you can ball it up and repeat the rolling out process to cut out some more scones.

Bake

round scones on a parchment paper lined baking sheet

Place the scones on the lined cookie sheet.

Sprinkle with a little sugar if desired.

baked scones on a cookie sheet

Bake at 375℉ for 12 to 15 minutes until they have puffed up and are a little brown on the top.

How to serve scones

Serve scones warm or cool with clotted cream or butter and jam.

Clotted cream is the traditional British topping for scones.

It is a spread that has a consistency half way between cream cheese and whipping cream.

Although the name may sound a little off-putting, it really is delicious!

If you are serving your scones warm on a buffet, you may want to cover them with a tea towel to help keep them warm but not soggy.

Frequently asked questions

Why use buttermilk in scones?

The acidity in buttermilk helps the baking soda and baking powder produce more carbon dioxide. This causes the dough to rise, creating light and fluffy scones.

What can I use instead of buttermilk in scones?

If you don’t have buttermilk, you can substitute an equal amount of milk with a teaspoon of lemon juice.

Other brunch (or tea) recipes you might like

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