Homemade Buttermilk Scones

Light and tender Homemade Buttermilk Scones made from scratch in just 20 minutes ! Afternoon tea wouldn’t be complete without a batch of warm scones fresh from the oven.

An easy, foolproof recipe for light and fluffy buttermilk scones with step by step instructions to make perfect scones every time.

Buttermilk Scones are quick and easy to make so they’re the perfect choice when time is short and you need almost instant results because you fancy a sweet treat but the cake cupboard is bare.

A cream tea set out on a table outdoors - jam, clotted cream and a homemade buttermilk scone cut in half spread with jam and cream.

Make a batch of scones and pop them in the oven – 12 minutes later you’ve got warm scones ready to eat. Simply split open and spread with butter. Delicious any time of day, we’ve even been known to have them for breakfast.

For an extra special treat, try them in a traditional cream tea with rich and decadent clotted cream I’ll leave it up to you whether to put the jam or the cream on first.

Fresh from the oven, a batch of Homemade Buttermilk Scones on a baking tray

Baking tips for light and fluffy scones

If you want to avoid the disappointment of dense, flat or dry scones, here are my top tips:

  • BUTTERMILK and light handling are the key to success with scones. Buttermilk reacts with the bicarbonate of soda to create carbon dioxide that causes the mixture to rise. It also helps break down the gluten strands resulting in soft and tender scones.
  • There’s no need to use a mixer, your hands and a bowl are all that’s required. You don’t even need a rolling pin, just a gentle pressing of the dough with your hands does the job.
  • Use butter at ROOM TEMPERATURE. It’s much easier and quicker to rub room temperature butter into the flour. The quicker you blend the ingredients and the less your scone dough is handled, the better.
Scone mix in a mixing bowl with a spatula ready for buttermilk and egg to be added
  • WET AND STICKY is best when it comes to the consistency of your dough. A dry dough won’t be able to rise as well as a wet dough, resulting in those dense scones you want to avoid.
  • DON’T twist the pastry cutter, you want your scones to stand nice and tall. Twisting the pastry cutter risks giving a lopsided scone which won’t rise so well.
Raw dough on a silicone mat with a pastry cutter.
  • DON’T space your scones too far apart on the baking tray. Firstly, placing them side by side on the baking tray, about 2.5cm / 1 inch apart gives a higher rise and straighter sides. Secondly, placing like this helps prevent the scones from drying out as they retain moisture more readily.
  • DON’T OVER BAKE. Scones are baked at quite a high temperature and don’t need long in a hot oven. Bake until a golden brown on top but still quite light in colour on the sides. You want moist scones and over baked dark scones are dry. If you not sure whether your scones are cooked, take one off the baking tray and break it open. The centre should feel moist but not ‘doughy’ or wet.
Scones brushed with egg wash on a baking tray.

Can you use normal milk instead of buttermilk ?

Absolutely ! To substitute buttermilk, simply use the same quantity of regular milk with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or white wine vinegar. This gives it an acidity similar to that of buttermilk which is essential for working with the bicarbonate of soda to give you light and fluffy scones.

Add the lemon juice or vinegar to your milk, give it a stir and then leave for five minutes. The milk will have become thicker and clumpy and is ready to use in your scone mixture.

Alternatively, you can use a 50 / 50 mixture of yoghurt and milk as a buttermilk substitute.

Can you freeze buttermilk ?

Yes, you can ! Buttermilk freezes really well for use in baking and will last in the freezer for up to three months. Although the recommendation on the container is not to freeze, it is safe to freeze. Like other dairy products it won’t maintain its qualities for drinking but it does retain its acid content which is what you need for scones.

My scone recipe calls for only six tablespoons of buttermilk so freezing the rest is the perfect option.

Make sure you freeze the buttermilk within the best before date. I freeze mine in an ice cube tray with a one tablespoonful (15 ml) portion to each cube. Once frozen, keep in a ziplock bag labelled with the date. It’s ready to be defrosted and used for the next time you bake.

A pile of scones on a cooling rack.

How to serve Homemade Buttermilk Scones

Serve fresh from the oven. Split in them in half and simply spread with butter and jam.

Enjoy as part of a cream tea or afternoon tea.

Scones with jam and clotted cream on a tea plate. A pot of jam and cream in the background.

How long do they keep ?

Scones are best eaten as fresh as possible but you can keep them for a couple of days in an airtight container. Refresh for a few minutes in a hot oven before serving.

Can I freeze them ?

Yes, you can !

Pop your scones into a freezer bag and they will keep for up to three months in the freezer.

Refresh in a hot oven before serving.

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Two images, first image is a cream tea set out on a table outdoors - jam, clotted cream and a scone cut in half spread with jam and cream. Second image is of a batch of freshly baked scones cooling on a rack.

Homemade Buttermilk Scones

Light & tender Homemade Buttermilk Scones made from scratch in just 20 minutes ! Afternoon tea wouldn't be complete without a batch of warm scones fresh from the oven.
An easy, foolproof recipe for light and fluffy buttermilk scones with step by step instructions to make perfect scones every time.
5 from 26 votes
Print Pin Rate Save Recipe
Course: Afternoon Tea
Cuisine: British
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 16 standard size
Calories: 218kcal
Author: Sarah James

Equipment

  • Mixing Bowl
  • Pastry / Cookie Cutter
  • Pastry brush
  • Baking sheet

Ingredients

Scone Dough

    • 450 grams self raising flour or plain flour / all purpose flour plus 2 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of Soda
    • A pinch salt
    • 175 grams butter diced and at room temperature
    • 4 tbsp caster sugar
    • 6 tbsp buttermilk can be substituted with half milk and half yoghurt
    • 1 egg beaten
    • milk or egg wash
    • 100 grams sultanas Optional

    Instructions

    • Preheat your oven to 425°F / 220°C / 200°C Fan / Gas Mark 7
    • Sift the flour, bicarb and salt into a large mixing bowl.
    • Using your fingertips, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
    • Add sugar and stir with a spatula.
    • Add sultanas if using and stir again.
    • Form a well in the centre of the mix with your spatula.
    • In a small bowl beat the egg and buttermilk (or yoghurt and milk) and pour into the centre of your scone mixture.
    • Quickly pull the mix together – I tend to start mixing with the spatula and then go in with my hands to form the mixture into a ball.
    • The scone dough should be slightly sticky and soft. Add a little extra buttermilk if you find the dough a little dry.
    • Keep mixing to the absolute minimum.
    • Turn your dough onto a floured board.
    • Pat out your dough gently, maintaining a thick dough of 3 cm (1 ⅓ inch)
    • Cut out your scones using a circular pastry/cookie cutter. Push down your cutter quickly using the palm of your hand and don’t twist the cutter.
    • For large scones use a 70 mm (2 ¾ ins) cutter or 58 mm (2 ¼ ins) for smaller scones.
    • Bring the trimmings back together and cut the rest of your scones. Don’t over work or you will end up with tough scones.
    • Place your scones onto a greased baking tray.
    • Brush the tops of your scones with milk or egg wash.
    • Bake in the oven for 15 minutes (large) or 12 minutes (standard) until golden brown.
    • Cool on a wire rack.
    • Serve with jam and cream or butter.

    Notes

    For the perfect soft scone, keep mixing to the minimum.
    Scones are best eaten as fresh as possible but you can keep them for a couple of days in an airtight container. Refresh for a few minutes in a hot oven before serving.
    Buttermilk scones freeze well. Pop your scones into a freezer bag and they will keep for up to three months. Refresh in a hot oven before serving.
    Nutrition information is approximate and meant as a guideline only.
    Nutrition Facts
    Homemade Buttermilk Scones
    Amount per Serving
    Calories
     
    218
    Calories from Fat 90
    % Daily Value*
    Fat
     
    10
    g
    15
    %
    Saturated Fat
     
    6
    g
    38
    %
    Cholesterol
     
    34
    mg
    11
    %
    Sodium
     
    150
    mg
    7
    %
    Potassium
     
    89
    mg
    3
    %
    Carbohydrates
     
    29
    g
    10
    %
    Fiber
     
    1
    g
    4
    %
    Sugar
     
    7
    g
    8
    %
    Protein
     
    4
    g
    8
    %
    Vitamin A
     
    298
    IU
    6
    %
    Vitamin C
     
    1
    mg
    1
    %
    Calcium
     
    33
    mg
    3
    %
    Iron
     
    1
    mg
    6
    %
    * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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