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Kitchen Queries

Welcome to Kitchen Queries, where the nigella.com team will answer your cooking or food related questions.  We’d love you to submit some of your recipe problems, dilemmas or queries for us to get our teeth into!

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  • Buttermilk Scones

    Hi! I am from India. I am regular viewer of Nigella's cooking shows and I'm a big fan. I would like to know what I can use instead of cream of tartar in the Buttermilk Scones recipe? Unfortunately I don't think I can find this ingredient in my local store. Thanks!

    From the nigella team:

    Nigella's Buttermilk Scones recipe appears in Kitchen and is also available on the BBC website (see link below). It uses a combination of cream of tartar and bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) as leavening agents, to make the scones rise and give them a light, fluffy texture.

    The cream of tartar is an acid and is needed to react with the bicarbonate of soda to produce carbon dioxide (the gas that causes the scones to rise). Although the buttermilk in the recipe provides some acidity, extra is needed to give a fast reaction as the scones bake quite quickly. You can substitute lemon juice or a mild vinegar (such as distilled white vinegar or white wine vinegar) as a substitite in equal quantities, though you may like to reduce the buttermilk by 2 teaspoons to allow for the small amount of extra liquid you will be adding if using either of these.

    The other option is to use a commercial baking powder. As baking powder is made from bicarbonate of soda, cream of tartar and cornflour (cornstarch) you need to replace the 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda and 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar with 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda plus 3 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder.

    As the chemical reaction in the scones is quite fast try to bake or freeze the scones as quickly as possible after making the dough.


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