Given the choice between a muffin or a scone at a bakery, I would choose the scone every single time. I love that scones are less sweet and more buttery than their cakey muffin cousins, and I find them a lovely partner to my morning coffee or tea.
Scones often have the reputation of being dry, but if made properly they’re anything but. Here’s how to make buttery, flaky, American-style scones loaded with plump, sweet blueberries and a kiss of lemon. And yes, they’re as good as they sound.
The Key Ingredients in Blueberry Scones
These four ingredients are crucial to making the very best blueberry scones.
- Blueberries: Whether you use fresh or frozen blueberries, go for bigger ones that will hold their shape. Tiny wild blueberries will burst easily and make purple-blue streaks in the dough. They’ll still taste good, but they won’t look as nice.
- Butter: Cold butter melts and turns to steam in the hot oven, creating a nice, flaky texture. Keep the butter cold by grating it into the flour mixture and then working quickly to bring the dough together.
- Cream: Heavy cream adds moisture and fat to the dough, which keeps the scones tender and gives them a rich flavor.
- Lemon: There’s a double-dose of lemon zest in this recipe; it’s mixed into the dough and rubbed into sugar to be sprinkled on top. The lemon adds brightness and really makes the blueberry flavor sing, so don’t skip it.
What’s the Secret to Making the Best, Flakiest Scones?
The secret to the best American-style scones is to use a technique similar to making flaky biscuits (ironically enough, what the British call scones are baked goods very similar to American biscuits). Here, I’ll show you how to implement it when making blueberry scones.
- Grate the butter. Grating cold butter on a box grater into the flour mixture gives you perfectly-sized butter flecks that are easy to incorporate into the dough quickly.
- Fold the dough. After patting the dough into a rectangle and pressing the blueberries into part of it, you’ll use another technique borrowed from flaky biscuits: Fold the dough into thirds like a letter, which creates flaky layers and also berry-streaked layers, in this case. Pat the dough into a rectangle again, then cut it into eight triangles. I love this shape for scones because they can all be cut out at once and there’s no need to gather and re-roll scraps.
- Freeze the unbaked scones. Finish the scones by brushing them with heavy cream and sprinkling them with lemon sugar, then freeze them for 30 minutes while the oven heats up. Freezing them firms up the butter so that the scones bake up nice and flaky. If you don’t want to bake them right away, freeze them solid and store them in a zip-top bag. The frozen scones can be baked directly from the freezer for the same amount of time, which means a warm breakfast pastry is possible with zero effort besides turning on the oven.
How to Make the Best Blueberry Scones
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes to 15 minutes
- 2 cups
all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/4 cup
plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided
- 2 1/2 teaspoons
- 1 teaspoon
- 8 tablespoons
(1 stick) cold unsalted butter
- 1 cup
cold heavy cream
- 1 cup
fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw, see Recipe Note)
Prepare the dry ingredients. Finely grate the zest of 1 medium lemon. Place half the lemon zest, 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar, 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine.
Prepare the lemon sugar. Place the remaining lemon zest and remaining 1 tablespoon granulated sugar in a small bowl and rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers until fragrant.
Grate in the butter. Grate 1 stick cold unsalted butter on the large holes of a box grater directly into the flour mixture. Toss with your hands to incorporate the butter into the flour, breaking up any large flakes of butter.
Mix in the cream. Measure out 1 cup cold heavy cream. Transfer 1 tablespoon to a small bowl. Drizzle the remaining cream over the flour mixture. Stir with a silicone spatula until the cream is absorbed.
Knead and shape the dough. Knead the dough in the bowl with your hands just until big clumps form and all the loose flour is incorporated (be careful not to overwork it). Gather into a ball and place on a work surface lightly dusted with flour. Roll into an 8x10-inch rectangle that’s about 1/2-inch thick, with a longer side closer to you. If the dough cracks, push it back together.
Add the blueberries. Evenly arrange 1 cup blueberries in a single layer over the lower two-thirds of the rectangle, and press gently them into the dough a little (it’s fine if some break).
Fold the dough. Starting with the top, berryless third, fold the dough lengthwise into thirds like a letter. If any blueberries roll out, just tuck them back in. Gently press down on the dough to compact slightly.
Roll and cut the scones. Roll the dough out into an 11x4-inch rectangle that’s about 1-inch thick, again with a longer side closer to you. If the ends become tapered, square them with your hands or a bench scraper. Cut the dough crosswise into 4 pieces: cut straight down, do not saw back and forth. Cut each piece in half diagonally to form 2 triangles. Transfer the 8 scones to a large plate (or parchment paper or silicone baking mat-lined baking sheet if your freezer has the space).
Top the scones. Brush a thin layer of the reserved 1 tablespoon heavy cream onto the scones. Sprinkle with the lemon sugar and gently press on it so it adheres.
Freeze the scones and heat the oven. Freeze the scones for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F.
Bake the scones. If needed, transfer the scones to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, spacing them evenly apart. Bake until light golden brown, 20 to 24 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes on the baking sheet before serving.
Frozen blueberries: If using frozen blueberries, try to use larger blueberries.
Using raspberries: If blueberries aren’t in season, raspberries make a lovely substitute.
Mini scones: After cutting the scones into 8 triangles, cut each in half again before baking to form 16 mini scones, which are perfect for tea parties.
Make ahead: The scones can be shaped, topped, and frozen unbaked. Freeze on the baking sheet until solid, then store in a freezer bag. Bake directly from frozen for about the same amount of time.
Storage: Baked scones can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days. Rewarm in a 350ºF oven until heated through, about 5 minutes.