They’re simple little things, and definitely a firm favourite at the Opera Tea Rooms!
However, there’s a certain knack to making them and they have a long history behind them – which means there’s probably a few things about them that would surprise you.
We did our research and unearthed a few facts that you probably never knew!
1. DO THEY RHYME WITH JOHN OR JOAN?
There’s even been an academic study on this age-old debate. Apparently, over two thirds of British people use the ‘rhymes with John’ pronunciation. This rises to over 99% in Scotland! Linguistic experts say this is the correct pronunciation as scones are believed to have originated in Scotland … but we shall remain neutral on this one.
2. THERE’S A LOT OF THEM!
The market worth of scones in the UK is estimated to be £64 million! I don’t know about you but … that’s a lot of scones.
3. THEY’RE MORE PIE THAN LOAF!
A scone is actually a kind of pastry – or at least, it’s closer to pastry than bread because it does not contain yeast. It uses the same ingredients as shortcrust pastry, but has different proportions of fat to flour.
4. THEY'VE TRIMMED DOWN
Originally scones were large, round and flat, about the size of a dinner plate. It was made with unleavened oats and baked on a griddle, then cut into 6 sections. This large cake is now referred to as a ‘bannock’ but you’re unlikely to see it sold in any bakeries.
5. THEY GO DOWN WELL IN SOUTH AMERICA
Scones are surprisingly popular in Argentina and Uruguay, where there is a large number of British immigrants. People here often eat scones with a cup of mate, a traditional South American infused drink rich in caffeine (their answer to a cup of tea!)
6. BUT THEY’RE A BIT DIFFERENT DOWN UNDER…
In Australia, scones have had a few more frills put on them! Now they are often made by adding mashed, cooked pumpkin to the dough mixture which gives them a sweeter, autumnal flavour. Australian bakers also often add dates to scones.
7. MAKE ‘EM COLD
The most important thing to remember when baking scones is to keep your ingredients cold. Your butter in particular must remain solid until the scones go in the oven. This helps them to rise, giving them that tender, fluffy texture with plenty of air pockets.
8. DON’T OVERKNEAD THEM
The best scones are made by kneading the dough only very slightly. Just like the above point, if you overwork them they will lose their ability to rise. This in turn takes away that lovely tender texture!
9. CREAM ON THE TOP OR THE BOTTOM?
There is a debate between Devon and Cornwall over the best way to serve cones in a cream tea. In Devon, cream always goes on the bottom with jam on top and in Cornwall it is the opposite. This has led to some tongue in cheek rivalry… as one cheeky Cornishman said, 'we always put our cream on the top because we are proud of it, Devonians are slightly ashamed of theirs so they cover it up with their jam.'
10. THEY’RE PART OF OUR HISTORY!
The first recorded use of the word ‘scone’ was in 1513 … so they’ve just passed their 500th birthday. Since they’ve had such a long time to refine, it’s no longer they remain a staple of British diet and are a teatime favourite all over the country.