Buttermilk scones set out with jam and cream ready to serve

I’ve spoken about scones here before when I made raspberry scones. In fact I went all out and gave a bit of a history lesson last time.

But these ones are made with buttermilk. And I made them in two varieties:

chocolate

Chocolate buttermilk scone ripped in half, showing melted chocolate chips

and sultana and cinnamon

Two sultana buttermilk scones on a tea towel

I’m quite fond of baking with buttermilk at the moment.

Americans use it a lot but it’s not widely asked for in Australia or UK recipes I’ve found.

Why buttermilk? Glad you asked. Buttermilk is not made with butter. Traditional buttermilk is the slightly sour, residual liquid which remains after butter is churned. The sour reacts with the bicarbonate in the recipe and makes your baked goods fluffier and softer.

Though nowadays most of the time they make commercial buttermilk by adding a culture (usually lactic acid bacteria) to skim milk, causing it to sour and thicken. It has the same reaction to bicarb as traditional buttermilk, and is also 98% fat free.

So it’s not unhealthy. Which is good to know. And that’s why you should add chocolate.

Three chocolate buttermilk scones, and text saying 'eat me'.

Note: The recipe below makes four large or six small scones (the ‘small’ versions are pictured and what I made). I also doubled the recipe and then separated the mixture in half at step 3. Half became chocolate scones, the other half sultana. Instructions below to do this.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
85 grams (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold buttermilk

Optional for sultana scones
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup sultanas

Optional for chocolate scones
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
Optional 2 teaspoons orange or lemon zest

Method

  1. Place rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 200C (400F).  Line a baking sheet with baking paper and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add butter cubes and work together until mixture resembles coarse meal. I use my fingers to rub the butter and dry ingredients together.
  3. In another bowl, combine egg yolk and buttermilk and beat lightly with a fork.  Add to flour mixture all at once, stirring enough to make a soft dough.
  4. At this point choose what type of scones you’re going to have. Either fold in the chocolate chips and 2 teaspoons of lemon or orange zest, or add cinnamon and sultanas. Create your own. Go crazy.
  5. Turn out onto a floured board and knead about 15 times.  Roll or pat out into a 1-inch thickness.  Cut into four large or six small squares.  No need to be perfect about it. Place on prepared baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes.
  6. Turn onto rack to cool, if not eating immediately.

Notes: See above notes on quantity. For serving, although they are wonderful served warm with jam and cream, I also found these scones were great the next day. The buttermilk make them a bit softer, and therefore less crumbly once cooled. When hot, scones can be crumbly, so expect that.

Makes: Makes four large or six small scones

Healthy? If you make six scones, they are 250 calories a scone before you add any optional extras.

Storage: In an airtight container for as long as you think they’re fresh (usually four days or so) or they freeze really well.

Source: Altered from Joy the Baker’s orange and dark chocolate buttermilk scones.

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