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Scones are British baked goods, specifically quick breads, usually served as snacks with tea. They are conveniently-sized rounded, triangular, or square pieces. The commercially sold ones are often round or hexagonal in shape. These breads, which may be sweet or savory, have been popularized by other cuisines like the American, Canadian, Australian, Irish and other European cuisines. The pronunciation of the name of the dish either rhymes with a “cone” as in a lot of European references or as “con” as commonly used by the British. A scone may also be considered a cake if it is made with adequate sugar.

History of the Scone

The scone seems to have been first prepared in Scotland in the 16th century and the name seems to have its origin in the Dutch term “schoonbrot” which can be translated to mean a delicious bread , or in the word “skone”. It also seems to have been associated with the Stone of Destiny, where the Scottish royals were honored with the crown. The bread became an afternoon snack for the elite English when the Duchess of Bedford, Anna, introduced the practice in the 18th century. The English traditionally savor the sweet scones with cream topping.


Scones are prepared with sweet or savory ingredients. The bread of the scone, being a quick bread, is leavened with ingredients other than yeast. The original Scottish scone is made using oatmeal. Barley or oatmeal is also used. Baking powder, cream of tartar or sodium bicarbonate are commonly used for leavening the scone, though baking powder is the most common ingredient used for leavening the flour. The original British scones are not very sweet and are often savory. Potato scones, also known as tattie scones, which look like potato pancakes are fried scones which are served for breakfast. The other variety of savory British scones comprises of soda farls. Scones that are prepared in other cuisines may include other ingredients like bacon, onion or cheese. The sweet English scones include currants, raisins and dates and are not as sweet as the American scones which are made using fruits like cranberries, blueberries and also nuts or chocolate chips. They are bigger and drier than the English scones, but are served as teatime snacks. The American scones which may allure the gourmet tongue may be made with floral flavorings the most popular of which are rose, lavender, jasmine, orange blossoms, or violet. The term biscuit is also used to refer to American scones, however both are distinct foods. A modern inclusion to the list of scone recipes is that of the lemonade scone which is made of a creamy mixture of lemonade. It is spiced with poppy seeds and cinnamon. Scones are also made with region-specific ingredients. The Australian cuisine is popular for its pumpkin and date scones. The scones from Utah, which are somewhat like the Indian fry breads, use buttermilk as a leavening agent along with baking powder and soda. They are fried and not baked. Honey and butter are favorite accompaniments of the people of Utah for these scones.

Preparation of Scones

The original Scottish scone was baked in a griddle pan. Ovens started being used later. The savory varieties are also prepared by frying. Drop scones are the ones in which the scone batter is poured into the frying pan or the girdle for cooking. Griddle scones are popular with the new Zealand cuisine. The original Scottish scone was made with a batter of unleavened oats and was made on a griddle. It was a round and flattened bread and was cut into wedges and served. The term may now be applied to the cut pieces rather than the original complete bread which can also be referred to as the bannock.


Since scones are commonly served as a snack, a number of scone recipes have been invented for parties. They are served warm and can be arranged appealingly to please guests. Cutting the scones if they are large is an art and it should be done properly.

Variants of the Scone

A scone is called by different names depending upon the region. For example, the word bannock is used as another term for the scone quite often by the Scottish. In other cuisines, the serving piece (often a small wedge shaped portion of the bread) is referred to as the scone. The British scone is often confused with the North American biscuit but both are different in composition and texture. The scone is made of cold butter which is responsible for its tender and flaky texture whereas the biscuits are made with animal fat or shortening and feel crumbly to the touch. A farl,which resembles the scone, is a soda bread which is made for ulster fry( which is somewhat like the Irish breakfast).

Scones and St. George’s Day

St. George’s day is commemorated on April 23 in memory of the English patron saint, St. George, and this day witnesses a wide range of traditional English foods as a way of celebration. With scones being a classic English snack, it can be served as an accompaniment with the afternoon tea on St. George’s day. The scones can be served with cakes and fruit desserts on a three-tire cake stand.