When baked properly, scones can be a staple at every brunch. Think about it; nothing can beat a scone that is light, buttery, and flaky under a crunchy shell.
Unfortunately, figuring out how to make scones crispy on the outside can be a little tricky, and you may end up with a dry, dense mess that’s definitely not a crowd-pleaser.
So, if you’re looking for tips and tricks to get that crispy texture, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll go over four simple tips to help you master the scone game!
Let’s jump right in with a few simple tips that can make all the difference in your scope recipes:
Choosing the right type and brand of flour is essential to ace any scone recipe.
Using only all-purpose flour may not give you the best scone results. Generally, most all-purpose flours are high in protein content (between 8 to 11%).
The higher the protein content is, the higher its water absorption. Strong absorbing flour will need a lot of water to hydrate, resulting in a dense, bread-like scone.
In contrast, flour with weak water absorption will get sticky quickly—even when you haven’t added the entire wet ingredients—giving you a dry scone.
To overcome baking dense scones, try the following tips:
- Instead of using all-purpose or self-rising flour, you can mix all-purpose flour with low-protein flour like cake flour. You can also try the recipe with pastry flour for a more flaky scone.
- Keep in mind that different flour brands may vary in protein content, so record the changes you make (adding more wet or dry ingredients) to your recipe each time you experiment with a new flour brand.
- Don’t measure the flour by scooping it out of the bag and giving it a rough level. That’ll pack the flour in the cup, and you’ll end up using more flour than you should.
- Instead, measure the flour with a scale or fluff it with a spoon, scoop it into the measuring cup, and then level it.
Whether you’re using butter, shortening, milk, buttermilk, or cream in your scone recipe doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you should always keep scone ingredients in the fridge before mixing them into the dough.
Keeping the ingredients cold will prevent the butter from melting before baking your scone—that’s something you definitely want to create perfectly flaky, crispy scones.
When the cold ingredients like butter start melting in the oven, they create steam between dough layers, which puffs the dough. What’s more, the fat at the surface of your scone dough melts, giving that desired crispy outside layer.
The trick to keeping your butter cool is to work quickly when mixing the wet and dry ingredients, especially if it’s hot in your kitchen, so it doesn’t melt before entering the oven.
Kneading and over-mixing don’t go well with scones. When you mix wet ingredients with flour, two proteins (glutenin and gliadin) combine to form gluten.
The gluten network gets longer and stronger upon kneading, resulting in a stretchy dough. However, the more you knead a dough, the more gluten it forms, making it hard to stretch.
As a result, your scones end up tough rather than light from the inside and crunchy from the outside—forming gluten is something you generally want to avoid when making pastries like scones and pie crusts.
Here’s how to properly mix scone dough ingredients:
- First, pour the dry ingredients into a deep bowl and blend them.
- Next, using a food processor or pastry cutter, rub the butter into the flour until it’s completely distributed into the flour to give a crumbly texture.
- If you’re rubbing butter with your fingers, cut the butter into tiny pieces to make it easier to blend into the flour.
- Mix the wet ingredients and start adding them slowly to form the dough. Remember not to mix for a long time; just mix until the dry ingredients are moist but still crumbly.
- Flour your hands and gently work the dough until it comes together into a ball. Don’t knead the dough to remove any bumps—a good scone dough isn’t smooth.
- Be careful not to overwork your dough when shaping or cutting it as well. That can make your scones chewy.
The correct temperature and baking time are vital to make scones crispy on the outside.
Undercooking your dough will result in moist, doughy scones. On the other hand, overcooking will give you dry scones that lack the desired crispiness.
That’s why baking your scones accurately is like putting the cherry on top of a perfectly made scone dough.
Here are a few tips for baking your scones:
- Preheat your oven to 400°F and make sure it’s fully heated before baking your scones.
- Remember to keep the dough in the fridge until baked—as we said, the only place we want the butter to melt is inside the oven.
- Consider the size of your scones. Larger scones may require more time to get that crispy golden brown outside.
- Meanwhile, they’ll need less time to cook if you cut your scones to smaller sizes.
- Know your oven. Most recipes will give an estimated baking time, but not all ovens work the same, so you may need to check a scone from the inside to know if they are done.
- A bonus tip here; to eat a light and crispy scone, bake the scones right before you plan on indulging them. The longer the scones sit, the softer they become and lose that crumbly, crisp texture.
It can be hard to bake a perfect scone, but it’s still achievable. Figuring out how to make scones crispy on the outside will take your baking to a whole new level.
All you need to do is to focus on some tips and tricks, like choosing the right flour type, keeping your ingredient cool, and nailing your kneading technique.
Soon, you’ll be able to savor every bite of those delicate pastries!
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.