Scones - traditional plain

Prep Time: 0:10
Cook Time: 0:15
Serves: 4

Ingredients / Shopping List

300g plain white flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp cream of tartar
3 tsp baking powder
50g butter
150ml milk
Egg for glaze


Prep to Cook:  Mixing bowl, teaspoon, sieve, measuring jug, rolling pin, flour dredger, flat baking tray, scone cutter, palette knife, non-stick parchment paper, make 6 scones that split into 12 pieces.
Preheat oven to 210°C or Gas Mark 7



Measure the raising agents carefully.

Sieve the flour with the raising agents twice

Rub in the butter

Add the milk until a soft dough is formed

Sprinkle flour on the work surface

Lightly knead the dough to form a ball

Pat the ball flat and very gently press with rolling pin or simply used your hands

Cut scones with scone cutter and transfer to baking tray lined with non stick paper

Brush the tops of the scones with beaten egg

Cook in a hot oven for 12 -15 minutes


Check it out!

This recipe uses chemical raising agents in plain flour.  It works well for GCSE NEA investigation.  For another recipe see 'Everyday scones'.


Recipe Science

Cooks Know How:  For good traditional scone is cut from dough about 2cm thick, so it hardly needs a rolling pin. When cooked each scone should break into 2 portions. Plain scones do not need sugar added to the recipe because they are usually served with jam.

The perfect plain scones need to the well risen, with white sides showing a split line so the scone can be easily divided into two parts.  The tops should be golden brown from the egg glaze. Scones use very few ingredients and are cheap to make.  They are however not as easy to make as you might think.  The process of making scones relies on raising agents.  Bicarbonate of soda is alkaline and Cream of tartar is acid so these two chemicals react when milk is used in the dough. During baking the chemicals give off carbon dioxide gas which makes the dough rise.  The dough itself should be soft when it is raw so that the gluten, the protein in the flour can become stretchy.  As the cooking proceeds the steam from the milk allows the gluten to stretch, the gases from the raising agents enable the dough to rise up and finally the gluten is denatured by the oven heat and sets the scone in the risen shape.  Cool on a cooling rack to allow remaining moisture to escape and the scones to have a crust.  Split the scones and serve with cream and jam.

Scones do not keep well because they contain very little fat. They stale within one day and therefore should be eaten on the day you make them.  Toasting is a good way to reverse ‘retrogradation’ which is the term used to describe the drying and staling of scones.