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Nov 20, 2009 11:51 AM

Help with scones!

This is my second attempt at baking scones. What do I need to do to keep them from spreading all over the pan. I have tried two different recipes and this happened both times. It seems to need more flour or a little chilling time in the fridge before baking. Any advice is greatly appreciated. Even a new recipe that you may have had great success with!

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  1. hmmm, i don't chill my scone batter prior to baking. are you making certain the butter you cut into the flour mixture is cold?

    this is my tried and true recipe:
    Maple Pecan Scones (adapted from Simple Joys of Friendship):
    1 egg beaten
    1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup milk and 1 /2 tablespoon lemon juice)
    1 t. vanilla extract
    2 T. maple syrup
    1 t. maple extract
    3 c. AP flour
    1/2 c. uncooked,quick-cooking oats
    2-1/2 t. baking powder
    1/2 t. baking soda
    1/2 t. salt
    1/2 cup sugar
    3/4 c. butter
    1/2 c. chopped pecans

    lemon glaze (optional)
    Simply mix 1 cup powdered sugar with a couple tablespoons of milk and a dash of lemon juice. Stir it up to desired consistency.

    directions- (preheat oven to 425 degrees F)
    1. Mix first 5 ingredients; set aside.
    2. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the next 6 ingredients; cut in the butter until mixture has a cornmeal consistency.
    3. Stir in pecans. Pour in egg mixture; stir with a fork to make a soft dough.
    4. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead to get a slightly uniform dough.
    5. Shape into a circle about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick. Cut into 16 wedges (or use biscuit or cookie cutters if you'd like).
    6. Place on a greased baking sheet at 425 degrees F for 16-18 minutes or until lightly golden.
    7. Allow to cool on a rack and then if you'd like, drizzle with the lemon glaze.
    Yields about 16 scones.

    good luck!

    1. I watched an episode of America's Test Kitchen and I was intrigued by what they did (at least this time I was). Now I haven't tried it yet - they used frozen, grated butter in the recipe. This is supposed to make the scones taste fluffy and light - but I don't know if this would help w/the spreading out.

      I'm thinking that your baking powder might be the culprit. Baking powder spoils - it loses the ability to make things rise. It's recommended to toss out any BP that's a few months old.

      If your BP isn't making the batter rise when heat hits the mixture - seems logical it would spread out like a pancake.

      2 Replies
      1. re: threedogs

        They did, huh? I thought that was MY method. Only I don't grate it. I just cut thin slices with a sharp knife. It sort of shatters as it cuts. I just toss the shards in with the dry ingredients. I hardly have to handle it at all except for a short knead to bring it all together.

        My favorite recipes are about 4 parts flour to 1 part of butter. It varies of course but that's a good place to start.

        1. re: threedogs

          Nope, wasn't the baking powder...I just opened a fresh can. I always replace powder and soda every 6 months and this was the new can.

        2. I see the word "batter" used twice in the previous responses. I don't use batter to make scones. My formula produces a soft but stable dough. Perhaps your problem is simply an issued of hydration. Gotta see your recipe to form an opinion on that.
          If you believe your hydration level is correct, then I'd look to the previously mentioned possibility of a weak baking powder. Even though my baking powder, kept cool and dry, often lasts more than a year in my cupboards, humidity levels vary dramatically and is you live in an area where humidity is an issue then your baking powder isn't going to last as long as it otherwise might.
          I also like the American Test Kitchen idea for incorporating grated bits of butter into the scone dough. Trick is to make sure it's ice cold and to avoid over-mixing it into the dough so well that it gets warm and loses its ability to lighten the finished texture of the scone.

          1. I think of scones as enriched biscuits (some egg and sugar/seasoning added). There are stiff doughs that can be rolled, cut, and baked on sheet pan. There are wet doughs that need to be placed side by side in a rimmed pan. Generally wet ones produce a lighter biscuit/scone.

            Many scone recipes call for rolling the dough out into an 8" circle, and cutting it into wedges. My shortcut is to just spread the dough in a 10" greased dutch oven (or round cake pan), score it, bake. I separate the wedges after baking. That might work with your recipe.


              I now that I'm repeating myself but, I also had a hard time finding my recipe using the search. I hope this helps. The trick is to work quickly, keep your butter ice cold and cut it into cubes to get it started, then start working it into the flour. Perhaps your oven wasn't hot enough, and the scone mix to warm, I've had cookies do the very same thing. Very frustrating, all those expensive ingredients spread out flat on the cookie sheet. Not too appetizing.
              Okay, I admit I have a hard time following directions with a recipe but with baking it's really important, it's different than cooking. Very different.

              Try this recipe, if you follow it, I'll bet the results will be super. Even my best friend who can't warm up soup made them. Good Luck!

              4 Replies
              1. re: chef chicklet

                Thanks to all for you replies. I now think my problem was my butter temp. It cam straight out of the fridge...but I pulsed it with the dry ingredients in the food processor. Thinking back about that...I now realize that wasn't the best idea. I am going to give some of your ideas and recipes a try. Thanks again.

                1. re: vacationmomma

                  I think it's more of hydration problem as mentioned by todao b/c I used to always diligently keep everything cold. Then I started making a dough with soft butter and it's works perfectly and is easy. Shirley Corriher also writes abt the benefits of rubbing the flour and butter together to coat the flour granules hence making a tender dough. Cold butter has the benefit of giving you a little flakier dough. I wonder if your recipe is for a drop scone (or biscuit), which would be good for dropping on casseroles etc., but not the greatest for cutting shapes. Could you post your recipe?

                  1. re: cinnamon girl

                    I second this, the butter temperature doesn't quite matter. I use butter from the fridge, mix my scone dough and then let it sit for 30mins at room temperature before baking. It turns out great and they don't spread at all.

                  2. re: vacationmomma

                    I spent years making lousy scones until I went to frozen butter.

                    Try these: replacing the cold butter specified with frozen butter that you slice thin with a sharp chef's knife. I also separate the wedges slightly after I brush on the wash so the sides develop that pleasant crunch that contrasts with the rich soft interior.

                    Bet you'll get great results.

                    Besides being easy and delicious, they freeze beautifully.