Scones and Biscuits – What's The Difference?
For those who are fans of the buttery biscuits at Popeyes and have never tried scones before, they are very similar. Some like to say scones are the sweet alternative to biscuits – scones are usually paired with sweet jams and cream and served during high tea, while biscuits are typically served with savoury soups and chicken during lunch or dinner.
Both are made in very similar ways and ingredients; they are usually made with a flour mixture and a fat and liquid added in to bring everything together. Originating from Scotland, scones have a crisp exterior and soft, buttery insides, and are commonly served as an accompaniment with tea or coffee during afternoon high tea sessions. On the other hand, biscuits are popularly hailed from the US, and they are not served during tea time. They are buttery, light, with flaky layers.
While scones are relatively simple to make, making deliciously tall, light and tender scones requires some skill. There are two types of scone recipes – one features the working in of cold butter into the dry ingredients, while the other uses heavy cream, like these Earl Grey Scones with Apricot and Earl Grey Glaze. Butter-based recipes result in sturdier scones while cream scones give you lighter, cake-like results. The latter version also whips up more quickly, as you do not have to cut and work cold butter into the flour.
It took us multiple tries to get the flavour of the earl grey tea really pronounced in the end product, while retaining the characteristic crumbly and soft texture of scones. This is done by first infusing the heavy cream with earl grey tea and adding tea leaves to the scone dough. For the whole recipe, we used a total of 8 tea bags! Feel free to use your favourite tea brand.
Making The Earl Grey Cream
Since the highlight of these scones is its earl grey tea profile, making of the earl grey cream is an essential step in this recipe.
Steeping the earl grey tea leaves ensures that the flavour and fragrance of the tea thoroughly infuses into the cream and is discernible in the final product. This is done by gently simmering the cream with tea leaves. When done properly, this step will ensure that you get a batch of buttery scones with a prominent, fragrant earl grey aroma.
Choosing The Right Ingredients With Correct Temperature
Depending on the results you are trying to achieve, the flour that you should use will be different. To make these scones fluffier and lighter, a 1:1 combination of all-purpose flour and cake flour is used. Cake flour has a lower protein content, which makes it harder to develop gluten, a group of proteins that give your baked goods structure. If you prefer denser scones, you can always substitute the cake flour with all-purpose flour instead.
Temperature also plays an important role in baking. In the case of these scones, everything needs to be cold – from the earl grey cream, to the bowl that you’re using to mix the ingredients. This will give rise (pun intended!) to tall and flaky scones. Ensuring that the earl grey cream is completely chilled before adding it to the dry ingredients is a crucial step. This is because baking powder is a leavening agent which releases gas with heat, giving the baked good rise. Adding warm cream will activate the baking powder prematurely, resulting in a loss of rise from the scones.
Why You Shouldn’t Overwork Your Dough
Traditionally, scones are shaped into a circle, and cut into slices resembling pizza. In this step, you should avoid pressing on the dough and mixing the dough too much. It is perfectly normal to see lumps and bumps in your dough; your scones will still taste awesome! Working your dough too much will develop the gluten, resulting in tough scones.
Baking The Scones
When baking the scones, place them some distance apart (3 to 4cm). This will give them space to expand during the baking, preventing them from baking into each other. Egg-washing the scones gives them a beautiful shiny look, but feel free to skip this step.
Depending on the size of your scones (smaller scones require a shorter time to bake), your baking time will vary. The edges should be lightly golden brown, with lightly golden middles. Do not over-bake them as they will become dry!
Once the scones have come out of the oven, let them cool while you work on the glaze. For this recipe, we pair it with two different toppings – if you like a fruity tang, go for the apricot glaze. If you want an all-out earl grey scone, go for the earl grey glaze! These scones can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to a month. To consume, reheat them in the oven at 160°C for 10-15 minutes until they’re warm and tender.
Earl Grey Scones with Apricot and Earl Grey Glaze
yields 8x large scones
For the earl grey cream
2x earl grey tea bags (cut open for tea leaves)
270g heavy cream
For the scones
123g cake flour
123g all purpose flour
50g granulated sugar
10g baking powder
270g earl grey cream (from above)
4x tea bags (cut open for the tea leaves)
For the egg wash
For apricot glaze
160g apricot jam
10g confectioners’ sugar
For earl grey glaze
2x earl grey tea bags
20g hot water
80g-100g confectioners' sugar (depending on the thickness of the glaze you prefer)
Earl Grey Cream
Add earl grey tea leaves to cream and put on medium heat, stirring slightly. Bring cream to a gentle simmer, on very low heat. Simmer cream for about 3-5 minutes before turning off the flame, mixing occasionally. Let cream cool and chill it in the fridge until cream is cold.
- Preheat the oven to 160°C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, add cake flour, all purpose flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and earl grey tea leaves together and mix until combined.
- Add in vanilla and the cold, earl grey-infused cream and use the same fork to combine the ingredients. Mix the dough until big lumps form. Do not overwork dough.
- Pour the dough onto a clean work surface and press the dough out to a circle of 1.5cm thickness. Use a sharp knife to cut the dough into 8 triangles. *Ensure that you cut as straight as possible, keeping your knife perpendicular to the table. Cut with only one stroke to ensure the scones rise straight in the oven.*
- Place them carefully onto a baking tray, leaving about 3 to 4cm gap from one another. Place the scones in the fridge to chill for about 10-15 minutes before baking.
- Beat one egg for the egg wash. Then, remove scones from the fridge and brush the tops with egg using a pastry brush. Bake immediately for about 19-25 minutes until the scones are firm, with the edges golden brown and the middle a light golden brown. Timing will differ based on the size of your scones.
In a small sauce pot, heat apricot jam over low heat until it becomes liquidy. Whisk/mix in water and powdered sugar until smooth. Glaze scones.
Earl Grey Glaze
- Add 2x tea bags to 20g hot water and let steep for 3 to 5 min.
- Remove tea bags, squeezing out all the water.
- Stir in confectioners' sugar until smooth.
- Drizzle/glaze scones.
Scones are best served warm and fresh out of the oven.
Store scones in an airtight container in the fridge, for up to 5 days. Reheat at 160°C for about 5-10 minutes before consuming.
Earl Grey Scones For Your Next High Tea Session
What we like about this scone recipe is that it is quick and simple to whip up, and doesn't require an intense clean-up session after. To make things even simpler, you can even omit the tea leaves for tender scones that can be paired with clotted cream and your favourite jam, just like how they serve it at your favourite cafe and high tea spots. If you're looking for more quick recipes, check out these Brown Sugar Pistachio Rose Shortbread Cookies.
Trying this recipe out? Make sure you hashtag #bakestarters on Instagram so we can see your wonderful creations!