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Lily's Scones

by . Featured in HOW TO BE A DOMESTIC GODDESS
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Introduction

These are the best scones I’ve ever eaten, which is quite how it should be since they emanate from one of those old-fashioned cooks who starts a batch the minute the door-bell rings at teatime. Yes, I know they look as if they’ve got cellulite — it’s the cream of tartar, which is also why, despite their apparent solidity, they have that dreamy lightness.

And please read the Additional Information section at the end of the recipe before proceeding.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

These are the best scones I’ve ever eaten, which is quite how it should be since they emanate from one of those old-fashioned cooks who starts a batch the minute the door-bell rings at teatime. Yes, I know they look as if they’ve got cellulite — it’s the cream of tartar, which is also why, despite their apparent solidity, they have that dreamy lightness.

And please read the Additional Information section at the end of the recipe before proceeding.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

Image of Nigella's Lily's Scones
Photo by Petrina Tinslay

Ingredients

Makes: 12

Metric Cups
  • 500 grams plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 4½ teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 50 grams cold unsalted butter (diced)
  • 25 grams trex vegetable shortening in teaspooned lumps (or use another 25g/2 tablespoons butter)
  • 300 millilitres milk
  • 1 large egg (beaten, for egg-wash)
  • 3⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 4½ teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (diced)
  • 3 tablespoons trex vegetable shortening in teaspooned lumps (or use another 25g/2 tablespoons butter)
  • 1¼ cups milk
  • 1 large egg (beaten, for egg-wash)

Method

You will need a 6½ cm / 2½ inch crinkle-edged round cutter and a lightly greased baking tray.

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C Fan/gas mark 7/450°F.
  2. Sift the flour, salt, bicarb and cream of tartar into a large bowl. Rub in the fats till it goes like damp sand. Add the milk all at once, mix briefly — briefly being the operative word — and then turn out onto a floured surface and knead lightly to form a dough.
  3. Roll out to about 3cm thickness. Dip the cutter into some flour, then stamp out at least 10 scones. You get 12 in all from this, but may need to reroll for the last 2. Place on the baking tray very close together — the idea is that they bulge and stick together on cooking — then brush the tops with the egg-wash. Put in the oven and cook for 10 minutes or until risen and golden.
  4. Always eat freshly baked, preferably still warm from the oven, with clotted cream and jam or, my favourite, Thunder and Lightning, which is (as in the picture) clotted cream and black treacle.

You will need a 6½ cm / 2½ inch crinkle-edged round cutter and a lightly greased baking tray.

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C Fan/gas mark 7/450°F.
  2. Sift the flour, salt, bicarb and cream of tartar into a large bowl. Rub in the fats till it goes like damp sand. Add the milk all at once, mix briefly — briefly being the operative word — and then turn out onto a floured surface and knead lightly to form a dough.
  3. Roll out to about 3cm thickness. Dip the cutter into some flour, then stamp out at least 10 scones. You get 12 in all from this, but may need to reroll for the last 2. Place on the baking tray very close together — the idea is that they bulge and stick together on cooking — then brush the tops with the egg-wash. Put in the oven and cook for 10 minutes or until risen and golden.
  4. Always eat freshly baked, preferably still warm from the oven, with clotted cream and jam or, my favourite, Thunder and Lightning, which is (as in the picture) clotted cream and black treacle.

Additional Information

VARIATION:
Add 75g of raisins or sultanas for fruit scones, or, something I'm keen on, use the same amount of dried sour cherries, with or without the finely grated zest of half an orange. To make cheese scones, add 75g of mature Cheddar, grated.

MAKE AHEAD / STORE:
The scones are best on the day they are baked, but leftovers can be kept in an airtight container for 1-2 days and refreshed in an oven preheated to 150°C/130°C fan/300°F for 5-10 minutes. Baked scones can also be frozen in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Thaw for an hour at room temperature and reheat as above.
Alternatively, freeze the cut out but unbaked scones on a parchment-lined baking sheet until solid, then transfer to a bag or airtight container and freeze for up to 1 month. Bake direct from frozen, adding 2-3 minutes to the baking time.

VARIATION:
Add 75g of raisins or sultanas for fruit scones, or, something I'm keen on, use the same amount of dried sour cherries, with or without the finely grated zest of half an orange. To make cheese scones, add 75g of mature Cheddar, grated.

MAKE AHEAD / STORE:
The scones are best on the day they are baked, but leftovers can be kept in an airtight container for 1-2 days and refreshed in an oven preheated to 150°C/130°C fan/300°F for 5-10 minutes. Baked scones can also be frozen in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Thaw for an hour at room temperature and reheat as above.
Alternatively, freeze the cut out but unbaked scones on a parchment-lined baking sheet until solid, then transfer to a bag or airtight container and freeze for up to 1 month. Bake direct from frozen, adding 2-3 minutes to the baking time.

Tell us what you think

What 16 Others have said

  • Easily the best scones I’ve ever baked and ever tasted. I split the mixture and do half as fruit scones and half as cheese. For the cheese I add a teaspoon of dried mustard and a screw of black pepper along with cheddar and Parmesan cheese. For the fruit I add sultanas and sometimes a chopped up apple which stops the need for any sugar to sweeten. I made 120 for a charity afternoon tea by making the dry mixture in advance, storing it in bags in the fridge and adding the milk and baking on the day…..still perfect!

    Posted by Kit57 on 3rd May 2024
  • Beautiful! I would also recommend as another variation to replace the treacle with Fabbri Amarena Wild Cherries in Syrup. If you’ve never tried them, you must!

    Posted by Smash7474 on 3rd April 2024
  • I've eaten a lot of scones. I've made scones a handful of times. I am not a good cook. I'm not a terrible cook, but I'm definitely more critic than chef! I made these scones, and followed the recipe to a tee - except I used a round ravioli cutter as i didn't have any other options! These are without a doubt the best scones I have ever eaten - and I never say that about my own food. My friend said the same thing - and he too, has never once said that about anything I have made! HIGHLY recommend this recipe!

    Posted by Stormchicken on 26th July 2023
  • I have tried so many scone recipes over the years. This one is easily the best. They rise to a spectacular height and have the perfect texture and flavor. I really like the fact that the rolling out isn't so crucial with this recipe. The "whoosh" from the cream of tartar and the baking soda ensures a perfect rise every time. I sprinkle a little sugar on the egg wash for sparkle and a touch of sweetness. No need to look elsewhere, these are perfect!

    Posted by joshv41680 on 6th April 2021
  • Never made a scones before but this recipe is easy and delicious. Perfect for London afternoon tea memories. Thank you for sharing these recipes!

    Posted by blueberrycupcake on 12th July 2020
  • I love these scones. They are light and fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside, and absolutely wonderful with your favorite jam. I like adding a little bit of sugar in my dough, though: as I usually only make half the recipe to obtain 6 scones, I sift in 2 tbps of sugar (so, 4 tbps for the full recipe). By adding this amount, you certainly won't obtain sweet scones, it just seems to impart a little more flavor to them. Make yourself a batch, you won't regret it! You can even make ahead and freeze, then pop in the oven when you want to eat them. Thanks Nigella!

    Posted by GoddessInProgress on 28th April 2020
  • Made these scones this afternoon and they were the lightest, loveliest I have ever made. I made them in the food processor as this reduces the amount of contact with warm hands. I made half the amount of dough but got 12 scones of the size I would expect for afternoon tea. I also just pressed the dough into shape before cutting, rather than using a rolling pin. Thanks Nigella for another great recipe!

    Posted by nici1493 on 29th March 2020
  • Amazing! The scones are crispy from the outside and tender inside.

    Posted by olkin on 26th June 2018
  • I love all of your cookbooks. I am so delighted to attempt these scones, first time ever making them for a dear friend. Wish me luck .

    Posted by cookie3 on 12th June 2018
  • Excellent comments, can't wait to make them!

    Posted by heather747 on 12th June 2018
  • I haven't made scones for aeons so I was glad to see these. Tomorrow's the day!

    Posted by Domestaroo on 9th June 2018
  • These were PERFECT! I have tried multiple scone recipes and they were always just shy of what I remembered from my several teas around the UK. These were exactly what I was looking for!!! Light and fluffy, not sweet like American scones. Made them as part of a Tea to enjoy while watching Prince Harry's wedding and they were a hit. I knew Nigella would not disappoint!!!

    Posted by NYgrl on 20th May 2018
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