These Earl Grey scones are an indulgent treat for your breakfast or tea. The butter and cream make them soft and sweet. And rolling them out makes them flaky and a bit like American biscuits.
Many scone recipes make dry and crumbly scones. These Earl Grey scones are not those.
The recipe source and inspiration
This recipe for Earl Grey scones was adapted from my recipe from chocolate chip scones to highlight the floral and citrus flavors of Earl Grey tea. The base scone recipe is only barely adapted from the currant scone recipe in Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Pie and Pastry Bible. The Pie and Pastry Bible remains my favorite pastry cookbook, even after all of these years.
Tips and tricks for these Earl Grey scones
What’s the difference between scones and biscuits?
This is one of those places where people get fussy if you don’t make things the way they do. The answer to that question differs depending on where you are in the world and even within the U.S.. Generally speaking, a scone should be slightly crumbly and sweet, and an American biscuit should be light and flaky.
Earl Grey tea
Earl Grey tea is a black tea flavored with bergamot oil. It is reportedly named after a British Prime Minister in the 1800s who ended a monopoly on trade held by the East India Company.
You can use either loose tea or the tea from tea bags in this recipe. Loose tea will have larger tea leaves and provide a stronger flavor than the nearly ground up tea you find in tea bags. That’s why you use only half the amount if you have loose tea.
Making the scone dough
If you’ve been baking a while, this recipe should remind you of pie crust and puff pastry. The goal is to work the dough as lightly as possible while keeping the butter from getting warm.
Start by combining all of the dry ingredients into your mixing bowl. Then add the butter cubes and mix just until the butter flattens out but remains in large pieces (Panel #1, below).
Add the cream and mix only until the scone dough starts to come together. It will still be slightly crumbly (Panel #2).
Rolling and folding the dough
At this point, many scone recipes just have you smush the scone dough together and cut it out. The rolling and folding in this recipe is what creates flaky layers.
Turn the dough mixture out onto your lightly floured countertop and roll or pat it into a rough rectangle about 8 by 12 inches and one inch thick (Panel #1, below). Fold down the top third of the rectangle (Panel #2).
Now fold up the bottom third like a business letter (Panel #3, above). Rotate the dough 90 degrees or one quarter turn (Panel #4). And repeat these steps, rolling and folding and turning three more times.
If your kitchen is very warm, you might need to put the dough into the refrigerator for 15 minutes between turns.
You can freeze all or part of the scone dough at this point. Wrap it in a double layer of plastic wrap and put in a freezer bag for 3 to 6 months.
Cutting the scones
After the last turn, roll the dough out one last time to a rectangle of 8 by 12 inches. Using a bench scraper or knife, cut the dough lengthwise so you have two 4 by 12 inch rectangles. Then cut each 4 by 12 rectangle three times crosswise so you now have eight 4 by 3 inch rectangles. Finally, cut each rectangle along the diagonals into four small scones.
You can trim the edges to get a straight rise of your layers. If you care about that sort of thing.
Feel free to brush these with a bit more cream and sprinkle on sugar prior to baking or glaze them with a simple mixture of confectioners’ sugar and a bit of lemon juice.
FAQs about this Earl Grey scone recipe
Yes, you can definitely freeze scones! Scones will freeze well either baked or unbaked. If you froze them before baking, you can bake them directly from the freezer. Just add a couple minutes to the baking time.
Absolutely. Feel free to experiment with chai or matcha or any of your favorite teas! If the loose tea is in large pieces, you may need to grind or pulverize it before adding it to the other dry ingredients.
Check out other recipes from the breakfast archives like these orange and poppy seed muffins or this blackberry lemon quick bread. Or if you love Earl Grey tea, make the Earl Grey lavender cake or the related Empress Gin cocktail made with an Earl Grey tea simple syrup.
Earl Grey Scones
- Stand mixer
- 4 ½ cups (600 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon loose Earl Grey tea (or 2 tablespoons from 4 tea bags)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (8 ounces or 227 grams) unsalted butter, cold, cut into ½ inch cubes
- 2 cups heavy cream
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (250°C)
- Combine the flour, sugar, Earl Grey tea, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in the mixing bowl.4 ½ cups (600 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon loose Earl Grey tea (or 2 tablespoons from 4 tea bags), 2 teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, ¼ teaspoon salt
- Add the butter and mix on low speed for 1 minute until the butter is flattened but remains as large pieces.1 cup (8 ounces or 227 grams) unsalted butter, cold, cut into ½ inch cubes
- Add the cream and mix until the mixture just starts to come together.2 cups heavy cream
- Turn the mixture out onto a clean, lightly floured countertop, and knead very briefly just until the dough comes together uniformly.
- Roll the dough out into a rectangle 1 inch thick, approximately 8 by 12 inches. But don't worry about being too exact here.
- Fold the dough into thirds like a business letter, and rotate it 90 degrees.
- Repeat the prior step, rolling the dough out, folding it into thirds, and turning it 90 degrees, for a total of four turns. The edges will become straighter and more even with each turn.
- After the last turn, roll the dough out one last time to a rectangle of 8×12 inches. Using a bench scraper or knife, cut the dough lengthwise so you have two 4×12 inch rectangles. Then cut each 4×12 rectangle three times crosswise so you now have eight 4×3 inch rectangles. Finally, cut each rectangle along the diagonals into four small scones.
- Lay out the 32 triangles on two baking sheets covered with Silpat or parchment paper and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the tops are just starting to brown and the scones feel slightly firm.
- Remove immediately from the baking sheet and cool on a rack.
- Add a teaspoon of ground culinary lavender for Earl Grey and lavender scones.
- Brush with more cream and top with sugar prior to baking or glaze them with a simple mixture of confectioners’ sugar and a bit of lemon juice.
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