British scones are different than American scones

How are British scones different to American scones?

When I was growing up in England it was always a treat to go to a café or bakery and order a scone with clotted cream or butter and jam. Of course all made perfect with a steaming cup of tea.

A typical Saturday with a scone treat

My family would do our grocery shopping on a Saturday in those days and walked into the center of the town I grew up in called Clitheroe in Lancashire to buy our weekly groceries at the butcher, grocer and the greengrocers etc. This was before supermarkets were popular.

Our treat was stopping in a little café and ordering a scone with clotted cream, if they had it, or butter if they did not and jam. I get a visual as I am writing this of sitting by the window in the café looking out onto the street. It is raining, which is par for the course in Lancashire and we are all warm and cozy in the café.  We have our scones and a steaming pot of tea and all the shopping bags  piled up on the floor next to us.

This nostalgic memory reminds me of how much I miss my mum and dad.

In the USA the scones are different

When I first came to America imagine my surprise when I was presented with five different flavors of scone and got a dry looking triangular thing with no cream or jam. Upon tasting it, I found it really quite good but nothing like the soft fluffy scones I remember from home. In England the scones were either plain or fruit (raisins or sultanas) and that was the custom that I was used to.

American scones are usually designed to be eaten alone, though a light glaze or frosting drizzle on top is very common. They generally have a lot “going on” without any toppings added. British scones have a much plainer flavor profile, and are designed to be topped with things like clotted cream, butter, lemon curd, and/or preserves.

Scones in the USA are often dense wedges or triangles, while British scones are taller and usually round and much lighter. They look a bit like tall American biscuits, but the are sweeter and fluffier. When I cater an afternoon tea party guests will often ask if I am serving biscuits. That’s a whole other tale, the term biscuit in England describes what you would
call a cookie in the USA

A different recipe

American scones use much more butter than British scones, and they usually have quite a bit more sugar. The extra butter is what makes them so much denser. This is not really a good or bad thing, as British scones pile on plenty of sugar (in the form of preserves/jam) and butter or clotted cream as toppings.

When in Rome!

There is a popular saying  “When in Rome do as the Romans do” For the first few years of operating tea shop A Taste of Britain in Wayne Pennsylvania I only offered the plain buttermilk and raisin scones and was pretty adamant that these were the authentic flavors and I was not going to deviate.

With so many request for different flavors. I eventually caved in. I learnt to do a hybrid scone, sticking with the same basic recipe but including different flavors. We offered lemon and cherry almond along with the plain and raisin.

Now a couple of decades down the road and with my current business Tea with Marie, we offer a different flavor scone each month and in fact have a popular scone of the month club subscription, so I am usually experimenting with different flavor combinations.  These are our current flavors

Blueberry Lemon
Cranberry Orange
Mango and coconut
Cherry almond
Chocolate chip
White chocolate and raspberry
Butterscotch and roasted pecan

Our cream tea gift baskets include the clotted cream and preserves along with our fresh baked scones. Check out our store to see our selections

My mother would turn over in her grave that I have moved so far away from custom but it is fun working with different combinations and as I have lived in the USA more than twice as long as I lived in England I consider myself an AmeriBrit.

Clotted cream farmhouse teas

Another fond memory is the farmhouse clotted cream tea my family would enjoy in Devon and Cornwall. Devon and Cornwall are in the Southern part of England and are usually warmer than the weather in Lancashire. We would go most years on vacation, usually camping as a family.

In those days small farms would serve Clotted Cream teas. These are a treat consisting of tea, scones, clotted cream, jam, and sometimes butter. The farmer’s wives would make clotted cream from the fresh milk from their cows and would bake up delicious scones in the farmhouse kitchen.

You would literally be served it in their living room or dining room of the farmhouse, the jam was usually home made and the whole experience was just out of this world.

Unfortunately I guess more regulations and the health department came into play and put a stop to it, though most of the café’s in Devon and Cornwall will still have a cream tea on their menu.

Clotted cream

The word clotted cream is very familiar to the brits and always goes hand in hand with the word scone but not so much in the USA.
We will be discussing clotted cream in a future blog but suffice it to say it is very thick and rich and delicious.

It is however a hard sell to many Americans who have not grown up with the word or visited England and had a cream tea. I can understand why as it sounds more like a blood product than a delicacy. You only have to try it once though on a fresh warm scone to be sold on it.

Tea With Marie scones are an integral part of our catered afternoon tea parties. 
The scones are served  warm with clotted cream, jam and homemade lemon curd along with assorted tea sandwiches, miniature British pastries and a selection of hot gourmet teas.

I'll take the British please!

So British scones and American scones are very different pastry treats.
Both taste good but while the American scone is a nice pastry to have with your coffee, a British scone with clotted cream and strawberry preserve provides a whole mouth watering taste adventure.