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Buttermilk Scone Recipe and Ideas for Hosting a Cream Tea

A Cream Tea is a light meal consisting of scones, jam (traditionally strawberry) and clotted cream and is a lovely replacement for a quick coffee with friends.

Before your guests arrive set your table with a pretty paper napkin, plate, knife and tea (or coffee) cup. If you have the space, this can be set from the night before. A few seasonal flowers, daffodils are wonderful or a blossoming orchid placed on the table can add to making this simple treat feel like an occasion.

I have made a variety of scone recipes over the years, but this is my favourite recipe… so far. The scones have a lovely texture and the buttermilk makes a wonderfully light scone. I never add sugar to my scones for two reasons:

1) With the amount of jam you are eating, you don’t even taste the sugar in the scone, making it unnecessary.

2) Baked without sugar, gives you a savoury scone option. I like my savoury scones with grated cheese or my Quick Smoked Salmon Pate as a topping.

Buttermilk Scones
Preparation time
Cooking time
Total time
These very easy to make Buttermilk Scones have a delicious light texture. A great addition to a full Afternoon Tea menu or a Cream Tea.
Recipe type: Afternoon Tea
Cuisine: British
Servings: 8 scones
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 50g butter, diced and cold
  • 125ml buttermilk
  • 4 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 egg to glaze, beaten (optional)
  1. Add the flour and salt into a medium sized bowl.
  2. Place the diced butter into the bowl with the flour.
  3. Using only your fingertips rub the butter into the flour. Continue until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  4. A way to test if you are only rubbing in with your fingertips, is to keep checking the palms of your hands, there shouldn't be a trace of flour mixture on them.
  5. Using a knife, mix the buttermilk and milk into the flour and butter mixture, bringing all the ingredients together to form a soft sticky dough.
  6. The next step is important; don't over handle your dough.
  7. Place the dough on a floured board and shape the dough into a square about 3cm thick.
  8. I cut my scones into small squares, Paul Hollywood cuts his into fingers.
  9. If you prefer traditional scones press out your scones using a glass or small round cookie cutter.
  10. Place the scones onto a baking tray, giving them space to spread a little and rise.
  11. Optional: Brush the tops of the scones with beaten egg (see tip).
  12. Bake at 200C/Gas 6 for 10-12 minutes or until the scones have risen well and are golden brown.
  13. Serve warm with clotted cream, jam and a pot of your favourite tea.
Add a extra Tablespoon of buttermilk if the scone dough is too stiff.
The mixture should be a little sticky, this is what will make them light.
If you don't have buttermilk, mix ⅓ cup of Greek yoghurt and combine with milk to make the 125ml of buttermilk.
Glaze: I don't glaze my scones, but if you like a golden top brush a beaten egg just on the tops of the scones.
Be careful not to get the egg wash onto the side of the scones, as it will restrict the scones from rising.
As there is no sugar in my recipe, you can also serve the scones with savoury toppings.
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