Sour-cream sultana scones

February 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

Baking is often considered to be almost a different skillset than cooking; where cooking is the frequently quick, dexterous art, baking is the precise, finicky “get measurements correct” science that many find off-putting. Not me, though — in some respects I think I like baking more, if only because it can be quite nice to simply mix ingredients, pop it in the oven, and come back to delicious treats; a sort of ‘hands-off’ luxury. But of course, I never like to not tweak, which is fine as long as I don’t get too upset that sometimes I might get an overly-dry biscuit or glutenous cake.

These sour-cream sultana scones are anything but leaden; they are fluffy and flaky and dreamy with a bit of tang from the sour cream and a bit of rustic charm thanks to the whole wheat flour. I love them to pieces, maybe especially because I made them happen: to complement the whole wheat flour, I wanted some sweetness so that they could be eaten plain, but they also take to jam well too. And there are sultanas, dammit, because ever since I learned that my fave golden raisins were in fact the mysterious sultana, well, it was hard not to love them even more! But you could swap in the darker purple raisin too; my romanticism can be easily ignored for the more pressing requirement of using what’s in your pantry.

Best of all, these scones conjure up idyllic summers running around English parks and gardens with my grandmother, who loved tea and scones and biscuits and would tell me all about my long-deceased relatives who had the same hair color as me, and who was also quite stubborn. I think scones are best served with a spot of tea, homemade jam or marmalade, and of course clotted cream if you can find it.

Sour-cream sultana scones

Makes approximately 16 triangular scones


  • One and a half cups whole wheat flour
  • One and a half cups all-purpose flour
  • Two and a half teaspoons kosher salt
  • Three and a half teaspoons baking powder
  • Six tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Two-thirds cups plus one tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 (liquid) cup sour cream
  • 3/4 (liquid) cup milk
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins (sultanas)
  • One large egg, beaten (optional, for glaze)

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, sift together flours, salt, and baking powder. Using fingertips, mix in butter until it looks like damp sand.

2. In a liquid measuring cup, measure in about 1/2 cup sour cream. Top off with 3/4 cup milk, for a total volume of one and 3/4 cups liquid. Add sugar to the flour mixture and stir. Pour in milk/sour cream mixture and stir until about half the flour and liquids have combined; add in raisins (sultanas). Continue mixing just until dough is formed – do not overmix.

3. Split the dough into two balls. Flatten each one into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Cut each rectangle into eight triangles. Place scone triangles onto parchment-paper-lined baking sheets. (You can also roll out the dough into 1/2 inch thickness and then use a cookie/biscuit cutter to make rounds.)

4. In a separate bowl, beat egg. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the tops of the scones with the egg wash.

5. Bake scones for 13-15 minutes, or until light golden on top. Be careful not to overbake the scones.

Note: scones don’t really keep very well, so I recommend eating them as soon as possible, or up to one day later. Gently reheat in a toaster oven or oven at around 350 degrees Fahrenheit for a few minutes.

However, unbaked scones freeze really well, so I recommend baking from frozen; just add about two to three minutes or so to the overall baking time, or until scones are golden on top. I recommend flash-freezing on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. After they feel frozen to the touch, place in a freezer bag or container and keep frozen for up to two weeks.


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