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need scone recipe - not too sweet

I have been on a quest for a great scone recipe ever since Starbucks got rid of the old unhealthy ones when the law changed here in NY. I was never able to find out where they sourced them from. I am talking about the blueberry scones with the crunchy browned outside and not too sweet inside. The scones I find are either completely dry, like a biscuit or too cakey like a muffin or a bad cake. Ideally they should have a nice crust with an interior that isn't too sweet, but not bland like a biscuit. A while back, Cooks Illustrated did a recipe with blueberries that were folded into the dough. It was good, but the crust wasn't there. I tried to search for the old Starbucks recipe, but never found it. It appears that their products differ region to region. I am not a lover of Starbucks food, but this one scone haunts me. I want to make it for Fathers Day, if I can find it.

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

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  1. I use the recipe at Ocean Spray for some orange-Cranberry Scones. I add a little more baking power and a little more cream


    1. there's a comment at the bottom of this link that claims the scones turned out just like the ones at Starbucks. might be worth it to give the recipe a whirl...


      2 Replies
      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        They are definitely the right shape. Hopefully they are talking about the scones that were pre "health law" and not post. Have you made them?

        1. re: doughreme

          no, sorry, i'm gluten-free so i can't...but i would have been happy to test the recipe for you if i could eat them - i love blueberry scones!

      2. I use the scone recipe published in Julia Child's Baking Book, which is actually Marion Cunningham's recipe (you can find it in Marion's breakfast cookbook, too). It's a classic buttermilk scone recipe. I find it not too sweet, and very light. Not dry or cakey, but just the right texture. The key is the cutting of the flour & butter by hand with a pastry cutter, and not over-kneading the dough. The crust is developed by brushing the scones with an egg-cream-wash before baking. The recipe does not call for fresh blueberries, but if this is the flavor you want, I might suggest gently kneading in frozen blueberries (wild blueberries are readily available) and making them that way. You could try fresh blueberries, but you would have to be gentle, as not to break them. I also make them half the size. I've added orange zest and dried cranberries to this recipe.

        I find most store-bought, even Starbuck's brand of scones to be so dry and like hockey-pucks. You'd have to slather them with jam or butter to make them edible. These are good, just on their own.

        3 Replies
        1. re: luvarugula

          >>>The key is the cutting of the flour & butter by hand with a pastry cutter, and not over-kneading the dough.<<
          that's also the key to flaky, tender biscuits.

          1. re: alkapal

            Scones are just biscuits with a British accent!

            Start with your favorite biscuit recipe, sweeten it to taste, enrich it with an egg or two, fold in some currants, and cut into wedges.

            As with biscuits there are various ways of incorporating the fat - cutting by hand or knife, grated frozen butter, heavy cream, melted butter.

            Some insist on the wedge shape, though why that should matter, I don't know. My lazy-man's approach is to pat the dough into a oven proof round pan (10" dutch oven), and score it before baking. After backing, re cut it and break out the pieces.

            I also like to make a rolled oats scone recipe from Joy of Cooking. Not super flaky or light, but tasty and a bit rustic.

            1. re: paulj

              If you want to get just a little lazier ;) Cut the scones after baking: http://dinnerwithjulie.com/2008/05/20... I did these recently and instead of pesto used a caramelized onion spread in the middle. Way less fussy than cutting and re-rolling and they're deeelicious. (not the best pic sorry)

        2. This is a recipe I got from an old friend years ago, and it's excellent, it reliably makes tender, not-too-sweet scones. The secret to keeping them light is using frozen butter.

          Preheat oven to 450°.

          2 cups flour, sifted
          2 tsp baking powder
          1/4 cup sugar
          1/2 tsp salt
          3/4 cup butter, frozen
          1/2 cup (or a bit more) light cream

          Grate butter into dry ingredients.
          Add just enough cream to form a dough, mixing as little as possible, just until dough comes together.
          Place rough lumps on cookie sheet and sprinkle tops with a little sugar.
          Bake 15 minutes.

          I've only made them plain but I imagine you could add blueberries, cinnamon, or other ingredients as long as you do it quickly and don't add too much liquid.

          1. Thanks everyone. I am going to try a few of these. I am intrigued by the recipes made without fruit. I have always used something; blueberries, cranberries, etc. The Cook's Illustrated recipe recommended grating the butter and then freezing it. It was pretty good, but still, the crust wasn't flaky or slightly crunchy. Do you think it has to do with what is brushed on top? I ate one recently that tasted as if there were some type of animal fat in it. Has anyone heard of using that for a scone that isn't savory (perhaps brushing it on top)?

            1 Reply
            1. re: doughreme

              Years ago I watched a guy make Popeye's biscuits - he slathered the tops with melted butter (or margarine equivalent). But I don't recall whether it was before or after baking.

              Anyways, fat is the way to go if you want crispness.

              I noted in another thread that a Joy of Cooking recipe for waffles calls for 4-16T of melted butter. The 16T amount produced the richest, crispest waffle. Same would apply to biscuits and scones.

            2. There's a fantastic recipe for scallion feta scones in the Sweeter Side of Amy's Bread cookbook from the NYC bakery. It's really kind of a biscuit in scone shape, being buttermilk based, but man is it good. It's also what you describe in texture--moist, soft interior, and crispy brown exterior. I use a baking stone, which probably helps form the crust. I highly recommend that recipe, and my library had a copy. Hope yours does too.

              1. martha stewarts blueberry scone recipe is phenominal, easy and not too sweet at all. I have been making it for years http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/b...

                1. Mark Bittman's cream scones from How to Cook Everything are pretty fabulous. And not sweet at all.

                  1. Google Grandma Johnson's Scones and add whatever dried fruit/nuts you like. They are light because of the baking soda/sour cream mixture. My favorite combinations are dried blueberries with lime zest, or a combination of crystallized ginger, orange zest and pecans.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: saucydiva

                      saucydiva, thanks for the heads up. here is a link to the recipe: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Grandma-...

                      i like your combo of pecans, orange and ginger, especially.

                      do you make a glaze?

                    2. We like the recipe on the Bob's Red Mill sorghum flour bag. I've never had anything at Starbucks so can't compare.

                      1. Obviously too late for father's day, but this morning I made the cherry almond scone from the recipe in Vegan Lunchbox (after making adjustments so that it would be gluten-free). Calls for 1/4 cup There's also a blueberry lemon scone recipe in that ccokbook but I haven't tried it yet.

                        1. I actually worked on a scone recipe for an entire summer since my friend loved the blueberry scones at Starbucks. I practiced wtih dried cherries, and pecans, and then made the blueberry ones for her. She claims mine are better. To make the blueberry, just add a little pint of fresh blueberries instead of the dried cherries and pecans.

                          Cherry Pecan Scones
                          Preheat oven to 375 degrees
                          Large baking sheet with silpat or lined with parchment paper

                          2 Cups Flour – King Arthur’s is my preferred brand..
                          2 tsp baking powder
                          1 egg
                          1 T vanilla
                          ½ tsp sea salt
                          ¼ cup Plus 2 T fine baker’s sugar
                          ½ cup ice cold butter
                          ½ cup chopped pecans
                          ½ cup ice cold whipping cream
                          ½ cup Trader Joe’s Bing cherries

                          For the topping
                          1 egg beaten
                          1 T whipping cream
                          Wilton’s Sugar – large crystals

                          Cut butter into cubes and refrigerate until ready to use

                          Sift the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar into a large bowl
                          Cut the butter into the flour mixture with pastry blender until resembles coarse meal
                          In a smaller bowl whisk the egg, cream and vanilla – add to the dry mixture mixing with a fork, and stir until just combined – do not over mix! Then add the nuts and cherries.
                          Pour the dough mix onto a lightly floured board and pat into a 7 inch 1 to 1 ½ inch high disk. Cut into in half then quarters and then in eights as evenly as possible.

                          Place the scones on a baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper – this ensures even browning on the bottom

                          Mix 1 egg with the 1 T of cream and brush the tops with the cream-egg mixture then sprinkle generously with the sugar crystals.

                          Bake at 375 degrees for 17 minutes and no longer! This will ensure a moister scone than normally expected.

                          Another small tip, I keep the cubed butter and whip cream in the containers in the fridge/ everything is really cold and I work very quickly.

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                          1 Reply
                          1. re: chef chicklet

                            Wow! That recipe looks amazing. Thank you for sharing chef chicklet! :)