These Earl Grey scones have the floral and citrus flavor of Earl Grey tea, and they’re flaky and buttery and a bit like American biscuits. You’ll find them not at all like the dry and crumbly things that try to pass for scones at U.S. coffee shops.
Drizzle a lemon glaze on top of the scones and let it drip down the sides for a sweet tang to balance it all out. Or leave them topless and serve with your favorite jam or preserves.
Baking with tea
Earl Grey tea is a black tea flavored with bergamot oil. It is named after Charles Grey, the 2nd Earl Grey, Prime Minister in the 1830s, and reportedly responsible for abolition of slavery in the British Empire and ending a monopoly on trade held by the East India Company.
Tip from the wise quacker: You can use either loose tea or tea bags when baking with tea. Loose tea will have larger tea leaves and provide a stronger flavor than the ground tea in tea bags. Use only half the amount if you have loose tea.
Variations and substitutions
- Sub chai or matcha or another of your favorite teas.
- Add culinary lavender to make Earl Grey lavender scones.
- Change up the glaze by using vanilla or even Earl Grey tea in place of the lemon juice.
Recipe tips and tricks
Start by combining the dry ingredients in your mixing bowl. If you have large pieces of loose tea, you may need to grind or pulverize it before adding it to the other dry ingredients. 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 have you mush your scone dough together and cut out the scones. In this scone recipe, rolling and folding the scone dough gives you flaky layers.
Turn the dough mixture out onto a 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 the rolling and folding and turning three more times. If your kitchen is warm, 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
If you want large Earl Grey scones: cut the dough into 8 squares. Then cut each square diagonally to make 16 triangles.
If you want small 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.
Baking and glazing
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the tops are just starting to brown. The scones will feel slightly firm.
To finish, glaze the baked and cooled scones with a simple mixture of confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice. Or you can brush the unbaked scones with cream and sprinkle sugar on before baking. Serve unglazed scones with jam.
This is one of those places where people can get fussy. 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.
Well, it’s Earl Grey when we’re talking about the tea, but the color is correct either way. “Gray” is the more common spelling in the U.S.
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.
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Earl Grey Scones with Lemon Glaze
- Stand mixer
Earl Grey scones
- 4½ 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
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice plus more as needed
Earl Grey scones
- 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.4½ 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 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.
- Lay out the 32 triangles on two baking sheets covered with a silicone mat 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.
- Whisk together the sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl. Add additional lemon juice as needed to thin out the glaze so that it can be thickly poured onto the cooled scones.1 cup confectioners' sugar, 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
My 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 one of my favorite cookbooks, even after all of these years.
Are you an adventurous home cook looking for inspiration in your weeknight meals and weekend baking?