Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Almond, Orange and Apricot Buttermilk Scones – Would it be rude to eat three?

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The scone, so beloved of the British Isles, is thought to be about a thousand years old. There is a town in Scotland called Scone. It is tempting to believe that that's where the scone got its name from but there are other contenders from as far afield as Germany and The Netherlands.
The scone as we know it can only date from the mid 19th century with the appearance of baking powder and baking soda. These culinary equivalents of the Wonderbra gave what must have been quite a flat and boring mass a bit of a lift. Since then, the scone hasn’t looked back and no teashop worth its salt would be without this stalwart of Afternoon Tea (or breakfast, or anytime with a cuppa really).

I’m not crazy about sultana scones and one of my young nieces shares this foible. If she gets a sultana scone, she picks out all the fruit, saving the ‘good’ plump sultanas for a better life (!!!) and eating the ‘bad’ smaller ones before demolishing the denuded quick bread.
I prefer more interesting fruit in my scones and I’ve gone with a buttermilk version simply because, for the first time in my life, I’ve run out of baking powder. The result is Almond, Orange and Apricot Buttermilk Scones. My taste tester said “Mmmmmmmmmmmmm!!! Would it be rude to eat three?” Of course not!

For approximately 10 dainty (5cm) scones you’ll need...
... to pre-heat your oven to 190°C 

250g plain flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (bread soda)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
the zest of an orange, finely grated
50g butter, cold from the fridge, cut into small pieces
30g honey (or caster sugar if you prefer)
1 egg yolk
110mls buttermilk* (approximately)
½ teaspoon almond extract
50g ready-to-eat dried apricots, snipped into sultana-sized pieces


In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, salt and orange zest.

Add the butter, and “rub it in” to the flour by taking large pinches of the mixture and crumbling between your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the honey (I weigh it directly into the bowl).

Grate! I love orange zest!
Combine the egg yolk with the buttermilk and almond extract and add just enough of this mixture to the flour mixture so that there is no dry flour left (you may not need to add it all).
Finally mix in the apricot pieces and turn the dough onto a lightly-floured work surface. (The dough can quickly be prepared in a stand mixer too.)
Handle the dough as little as possible to keep the butter cold for a better rise. Knead very lightly then pat the dough out into a round of about 2cm high. Stamp into rounds using a lightly floured 5cm scone cutter. (Try to avoid twisting as you stamp out the rounds as this will cause them to rise unevenly, like mine... old habits die hard). Gather up any scraps, re-form into a round and continue stamping out scone shapes until you’ve used up the dough.
Place on a non-stick baking sheet and brush with a little beaten egg or milk to glaze. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 12-14 minutes or until well risen and golden brown.

Oven-ready in about 5 minutes flat! Tummy-ready in about 20!
Serve warm with butter and/or jam and a decent cup of tea or coffee - best served on the day of baking but can be frozen and refreshed in a hot oven. Cherry jam goes fantastically well with these. 

Rude to eat three? Why, it's practically mandatory!
* If you don’t have buttermilk, use whole milk and add a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice.


This recipe can easily be increased. Double everything except the cooking time.
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  1. Yum! I'll get right on this. Looks really delicious.

  2. @ WLB - yup, and child's play to put together

  3. Looks wonderful! perfect for a good cup of coffee or tea! Blessings, Catherine

  4. I absolutely adore scones and these are looking so appealing!!

  5. Sound and look amazing, Hester. Think I'd be asking for a third too.

  6. These look awesome. My mister's Mum made something similar over mother's day.. and oh man... but i LOVE the idea of adding almonds, orange and apricots. yum!

  7. Dear Hester, absolutely adore your post - you always make me smile when I read your beautiful and fun writing! And the pictures of the scones are absolutely adorable! Your recipe sounds so good, I certainly would not mind eating three myself!!!
    Have a wonderful Thursday!
    P.S.: I looked up the FB link to your sisters´ dance school and the performance - how wonderful, wish I could send my girls over for classes and attend the May performance myself!

  8. It would be sinful to eat fewer than three. I'm not a fan of sultana scones but I can't resist a date scone. or even a plain one covered with jam and cream but now I want these!

  9. @ Andrea - thanks - glad you enjoyed it. Looking forward to trying that gorgeous strawberry feta salad on your blog too.

  10. @ Maureen - and sure they're only little. Liking the sound of date scones tho...

  11. I am all about scones! This looks like my kind of recipe. I could eat these for breakfast, lunch and dinner :)

  12. One of my favorite friends adores making scones. She'll be a fan of these for sure. I like the combination of orange and apricot. I'm sure these are completely delicious with a cup of tea. I've pinned this so I can send it along to my girlfriend. Of the two of us, she's the baker. Have a terrific weekend Hester!

  13. When we run out of baking powder, the best thing we can try is scones. And your scones look so good...yummy!

  14. I love, love dried apricots! Your scones look amazing and I know the taste must be extraordinary!!!

  15. I love scones - especially for a leisurely cup of tea on the weekend! Looks delicious.

  16. Ahh, Ohhh dear. So that is what wonderbra is for. :) Rude or not, I would ask for three of these delicious scones (or more). Thank you Hester. :)


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