Humble Buttermilk Scones
Don’t be mistaken by the title; these Humble Buttermilk Scones are anything but boring. They are unlike their American counterparts with an incredibly tender interior thanks to buttermilk, baking soda, and an egg. They also happen to be the perfect vehicle for your favorite jam or high-quality butter. Now that we got that settled, let’s dig in.
The first time I had one of Tracey Jaffrey’s Irish scones, I slowly sat back on her couch in amazement. These scones were unlike any scone I’d had before, in the U.S., and during my time in Northern Ireland. They were magically light and fluffy, had a hint of butter, speckled with coarse wholemeal flour, and just sweet enough to keep me coming back for more. And I did, twice. They were that good, and I could only hope to recreate them in the U.S. one day.
As I set out to recreate these scones with Tracey’s helping hand, I recollected a very fact: you can’t make American recipes with Irish ingredients expecting the same results, and vice versa. It just doesn’t work. Believe me, I’ve tried it. I also imagine that most Americans have not 1. visited Northern Ireland lately and 2., if they had, they probably didn’t find room for a 5lb bag of coarse wholemeal flour in their suitcase as I had. Honestly, I only wish I found room in my suitcase for Irish Soda Bread as well. Nevertheless, I developed an Americanized version of Tracey’s Irish Scones that all people living in the U.S. can enjoy.
This version put my food science knowledge to the test. I kept tweaking the recipe, 11 times to be exact, to try and recreate those scones that are deeply engrained in my memory. I finally lamented and concluded that gorgeously light and fluffy scones with oats, whole wheat flour, a kiss of sweetness, and cut into American-style wedges are a success in their own right. I’m so excited to share these with you.
Flavor Boosters: Ways to Elevate these Buttermilk Scones
ADD-INS. Popular add-ins for Irish scones are raisins, sultanas, or a combination. Although not traditional, dried cranberries are also a fantastic choice.
EUROPEAN-STYLE BUTTER. While European-style butter is a splurge, it adds a bold, buttery flavor to these scones. Small batch butter from a local farm is also an excellent choice.
OATS. Substitute pulsed oats for more whole wheat flour or for a coarser texture, quick-cooking oats also work.
DEMERARA SUGAR. Demerara sugar adds a crunchy topping to these scones. A great substitute for Demerara Sugar is Raw Turbinado sugar. In a pinch, regular white granulated sugar also works, although you won’t obtain that lovely crunchy topping.
BUTTERMILK. For the purposes of these scones, I recommend using buttermilk. While milk combined with 2 tablespoons white vinegar works as a substitute, the flavor of these scones changes considerably. If you are looking to use up the rest of the buttermilk, check out My Favorite Whole Wheat Pancakes. Tip: Add additional milk to the buttermilk if the buttermilk carton doesn’t have enough for the pancake recipe.
Before you start: Helpful Tips
As with all scones, cold ingredients and a light hand are essential. This recipe uses frozen butter along with eggs and buttermilk straight from the fridge. Since there is no chill step, make sure you have 15 uninterrupted minutes to get the dough made and in the oven for the best results.Print
Humble Buttermilk Scones
These Humble Buttermilk Scones are Irish-inspired and are anything but boring! They are hearty with oats and whole wheat flour, yet have a super light and fluffy texture. Serve the traditional way with jam and butter.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 8 scones 1x
- Category: Breakfast
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: Irish, American
- 1 1/4 cups (175g) all-purpose flour*
- 1/2 (50g) whole wheat flour*
- 1/2 cup (50g) old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1/3 cup (63g) white granulated sugar
- 3.5 tablespoons (50g) butter, frozen, diced small
- 2/3 cup (150g) buttermilk, fridge cold
- 1 egg, fridge cold
- 1 tablespoon demerara sugar, for sprinkling
- Position the oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the old-fashioned rolled oats in a food processor, and pulse until the oats are finely chopped, about 1 minute.
- If using an electric mixer: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine flours, finely chopped oats, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Lightly fluff the flour mixture with your hands until all of the ingredients are uniformly distributed, about 5 times. Add the frozen, diced butter to the flour mixture and mix at low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Add the egg and buttermilk to the flour mixture, and mix at low speed until the egg is fully incorporated, about 2 minutes. Using your hands, lightly knead the dough in the bowl to incorporate any dry bits leftover at the bottom of the bowl and form a uniform mass. The dough will be sticky. By hand: In a large bowl, combine flours, finely chopped oats, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Lightly fluff the flour mixture with your hands until all of the ingredients are uniformly distributed, about 5 times. Add the frozen, diced butter to the flour mixture. Pinch the butter into the flour mixture using your fingers or a pastry blender (affiliate link) until the butter is the size of peas, about 5 minutes. Add the egg and buttermilk to the flour mixture, and use a wooden spoon to mix the dough until the egg is fully incorporated, about 3 minutes. Using your hands, lightly knead the dough in the bowl to incorporate any dry bits leftover at the bottom of the bowl and form a uniform mass. The dough will be sticky.
- Dump the dough onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Using your hands, pat the dough into a 6 1/2-inch x 1-inch circle. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 8 wedges. Evenly space the wedges on the baking sheet and sprinkle with demerara sugar.
- Bake until the top is golden brown, about 13-15 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the scones cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to the cooling rack (affiliate link) to cool completely. Serve with jam or butter.
Recipe Adapted from Tracey’s Farmhouse Kitchen Light and Fluffy Scones.
FLOUR. If you opt to measure by volume instead of weight, whisk the flour first to aerate it, then spoon into a measuring cup, and then level it off with the back of a knife.
ADD-INS. Add 1/2 cup – 1 cup of dried fruit after the egg is fully incorporated in Step 3. Mix with a wooden spoon or on low speed until the dried fruit is evenly distributed throughout the dough, about 1 minute. Proceed with the recipe instructions.
STORAGE. Scones are best the day they are baked, though they can be reheated in the oven the next day. See “DO AHEAD” to make this more doable.
DO AHEAD. Spread the raw dough wedges on a sheet pan, and put the sheet pan in the freezer until the wedges are frozen (about 2 hours). Once the dough wedges are frozen, store them in a bag in the freezer until ready to bake. Bake the scones straight from the freezer and add an additional 4-5 minutes to the total baking time.
- Serving Size: 1 scone
- Calories: 165 calories
- Sugar: 7.9g
- Sodium: 417mg
- Fat: 6.2g
- Saturated Fat: 3.5g
- Carbohydrates: 23.7g
- Fiber: 1.4g
- Protein: 4g
- Cholesterol: 35mg
Keywords: scone recipes, buttermilk scones
Can’t wait to try these out. I love how you explain it only takes 15 minutes once you have all ingredients on hand. Gives me confidence. We love cranberries so that’s my first choice for add-ins. Will report back as to what my truly gourmet (well trained by 4 sisters and a mother who could out-bake anyone for miles around) husband thinks.