5 Mistakes to Avoid When Baking Scones (2024)

Sheela Prakash

Sheela PrakashSenior Contributing Food Editor

Sheela is the Senior Contributing Food Editor at Kitchn and the author of Mediterranean Every Day: Simple, Inspired Recipes for Feel-Good Food. She received her master's degree from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy and is also a Registered Dietitian.


updated May 1, 2019

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5 Mistakes to Avoid When Baking Scones (1)

When scones are at their best, they can be life-changing. Anything that delicate, buttery, and oh-so-flaky can make a transcendent moment out of the five minutes it takes for you to eat it. I know people who won’t touch scones, though, because all they’ve ever had were the dense, puck-like ones that are all too often found in cafes and coffee shops.

Our recipe for buttery, tender scones is truly a revelation and will make a believer out of the most skeptical. With this recipe, we’re on a mission to rid the world of bad scones, starting with the ones we bake in our home kitchens. Armed with this recipe and a list of the mistakes you need to be wary of, this is how to make a scone that will make you close your eyes and sigh with delight.

1. Using anything but cold ingredients.

The secret to the flakiest scones is to start with cold ingredients — cold butter, cold eggs, and cold cream. Similar to making pie crust, using cold ingredients prevents the butter from melting before the scones are baked, leaving it instead to melt in the oven and create a super-flaky end result.

Follow this tip: Keep your butter, eggs, and cream in the fridge until you’re ready to make your scone dough. Heck, chill your bowl while you’re at it!

2. Only using all-purpose flour.

While all-purpose flour is likely what you already have in your pantry, if you really want to ace your scone game, reach for a combo for the best results. Different flours have different levels of protein and, generally, the higher the protein, the denser the baked good. Most all-purpose flour has a protein content of about 10 to 12 percent — if you use a flour that has less, you’ll get a lighter scone.

Follow this tip: For the lightest scones, opt for using pastry flour instead of all-purpose flour, or a mix of all-purpose and cake like we do in our recipe.

3. Overmixing the dough.

Overworking the dough will lead to scones that are tough and chewy, rather than light and flaky. The key is to use a light hand and work the dough until it just comes together.

Follow this tip: Expect your dough to have lumps and bumps in it — once it just comes together, its ready to be used.

4. Not chilling the dough before baking.

As previously mentioned, it’s crucial to keep the dough cold so that the butter doesn’t melt before the scones are baked. Using cold ingredients helps, but your hands can warm up the dough when you’re working with it. For extra precaution, it helps to chill the dough again before it’s baked.

Follow this tip: Cut the scone dough into wedges, place them on a baking sheet, and keep them in the fridge while the oven preheats.

5. Baking them ahead of time.

It’s tempting to want to get ahead on your brunch spread the night before, but scones are one component you’ll want to bake off at the last minute. Scones really are best when they are fresh and warm from the oven.

Follow this tip: Bake scones right before you plan to enjoy them. If you’d like to get ahead, you can make and shape the dough into scones ahead of time and leave them in the fridge overnight. Or you can freeze them on a baking sheet, transfer the frozen unbaked scones to a zip-top bag, and bake them straight from frozen, adding a couple of minutes to the baking time.

Try them for yourself!

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Baking Scones (2024)


5 Mistakes to Avoid When Baking Scones? ›

Bake scones in a 425°F oven for 18 to 23 minutes, until they're a very light golden brown. Don't over-bake; dark scones will be dry. Break one open to check for doneness: the interior shouldn't appear doughy or wet, but should feel nicely moist.

How to tell if scones are done? ›

Bake scones in a 425°F oven for 18 to 23 minutes, until they're a very light golden brown. Don't over-bake; dark scones will be dry. Break one open to check for doneness: the interior shouldn't appear doughy or wet, but should feel nicely moist.

What happens if you put too much sugar in scones? ›

We are all a little tempted to add that extra splash of sweetness into our scones, but make sure you don't use too much sugar as it will flatten them! We recommend using a maximum of 100g of sugar per 250g of flour.

What is the trick in making good scones? ›

Rather than mixing the ingredients together, use a technique called “cutting”. Use a flat-bladed knife or a palette knife and cut it (or pull it) through your ingredients when you add the wet ingredients so they are just barely incorporated. Don't overwork the dough.

What went wrong with my scones? ›

Check the texture of the dough.

If the dough is too dry, the scones won't rise and will be crumbly. On the other hand, if the scones are too wet, they won't rise either, and will be too tough and chewy once baked. Don't hesitate to tweak the amounts and proportions to get the right texture.

What not to do when making scones? ›

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Baking Scones
  1. Using anything but cold ingredients. The secret to the flakiest scones is to start with cold ingredients — cold butter, cold eggs, and cold cream. ...
  2. Only using all-purpose flour. ...
  3. Overmixing the dough. ...
  4. Not chilling the dough before baking. ...
  5. Baking them ahead of time.
May 1, 2019

Why do my scones rise then go flat? ›

First, make sure you're using fresh baking powder, one that has been opened less than 6 months ago. Also, if you knead the dough too much, the scones won't rise as tall. Knead gently, and just enough to bring the dough together. Adding more flour also prevents the dough from rising as high, so only dust lightly.

How long should you rest scones before baking? ›

Recipes for scones sometimes provide a make-ahead option that involves refrigerating the dough overnight so it can simply be shaped and then popped into the oven the next day. But now we've found that resting the dough overnight has another benefit: It makes for more symmetrical and attractive pastries.

What type of flour is best for scones? ›

Use pastry flour for the lightest scones. All-purpose plus pastry flour also works, but don't omit the pastry flour. "Once you've shaped your scones, chill them before baking," Youngman says. "You can use that time to preheat the oven so the kitchen doesn't heat up while you make the dough.

Why do you grate butter for scones? ›

This is what makes the dough flaky.” Although Chang cuts cubed butter into the dry mix with a stand mixer at Flour, she says that, with the grating method, “you ensure that some butter stays in small pieces, for the steam and puff; and some butter starts to soften and mix into the dough, for tenderness.” For the best ...

What is the secret to making scones rise? ›

Once you've cut out your scone shapes, flip them over and place upside down on the baking tray. This will help them rise evenly and counteract any 'squashing' that happened when you cut out the dough. Perfect scones should rise to about 2 inches high.

Why are my scones heavy and dense? ›

Over-kneading your dough will result in scones and biscuits that are tough, dense, or rubbery. The longer you knead the dough, the stronger the gluten network will be. We want just enough gluten for the scones to hold their shape, but not so much that we sacrifice the light and flaky texture.

What does egg do in scones? ›

Egg: Adds flavor, lift, and structure. Optional: Vanilla extract adds necessary flavor to sweet scones, but skip it if you're making savory scones.

How do you know if scones are underbaked? ›

Use the top of your fingers for this. Insert a skewer or toothpick into the scone. If it comes out clean, the scone is ready. If it comes out with dough on it, the scones need a little more cooking time.

What stops scones from rising? ›

Placing a dough in a cool oven that then slowly heats up actually affects the rising agent. Make sure your oven is at the right temperature you will be baking the scones at before you put them in. Also having an oven that is too hot or too cold will affect the baking of your scones immensely.

Should scones be baked touching? ›

Scones like to cosy up to one another in the baking tray. This helps them to rise evenly in the cooking process. When placing the scones in the baking tray they need to be touching.

What if the scone mixture is too runny? ›

If the mixture is too wet, sprinkle a little flour onto the surface so that the dough can be moved around more easily. Using your hands, pat the dough out into a rough square and then fold it over once on itself. This fold gives the traditional mark in the middle of the scone.

How to prevent scones from burning at the bottom? ›

If you are baking one cookie sheet of scones, cookies, or biscuits–set the rack to the central position in the oven. 3. If despite your best efforts they still scorch slightly, double up your cookie sheet. Just the little bit of extra insulation on the bottom does wonders!

What to do if scones are too dry? ›

Add moisture-boosting mix-ins: “Adding fruit, Jammy Bits, or chocolate can introduce moisture and flavor to your scones,” Bethany says.

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