The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

baking soda in scones (english-style scones)

coffeeshopmuser's picture

baking soda in scones (english-style scones)

Hi lovers of baking, Just need a little tip from anyone who makes great scones. I want to make the most basic of all english scones - the type that goes with jam and cream, plain, and good with afternoon tea. I was wondering, is it better to use baking SODA instead of baking powder? or should i use both? i know they are nearly the same, But I tend to use soda in cookies to make them crunchy, where as i wont use baking powder in my cookies.

will using soda in scones make them softer and lighter?


PaddyL's picture

it would be baking soda and cream of tartar.  At least that's what I use, though I am not in Ireland at the moment, I'm in snowy, damp, and cold Montreal, Canada, but I would still use baking soda and cream of tartar.

Thegreenbaker's picture

When I was young with my grandma, I would use baking Soda.

Now I use Baking powder if I have it in the cupboard, but, Baking soda (bi carbonate of soda) still gets used by me........OR, I buy self raising flour and add a little extra bi carb.





Henry's picture

  I guess it would depend on your recipe and what ingredients you use. You need an acid for the soda to react: buttermilk and sour cream being two examples. Place a teaspoon of soda in 1 T warm water and do the same with baking powder. Since the baking powder has an acid, it will bubble but the soda won’t.I make a lot of scones. Some weeks well over a thousand.I use baking powder (double acting) Baking powder, if you look at the label, contains sodium bicarbonate, an acid (monocalcium phosphate) and cornstarch. (to separate the two) How to tell if it’s double acting? It will have monocalcium phosphate, cornstarch, then either SAS (sodium aluminum sulphate) or SALP (sodium aluminum phosphate) as a second acid. Big long words, but that’s what they are, acids.The beauty of double acting is that you can make up and bake right away or make up and freeze for another time. The morning you want fresh, hot scones, take out of the freezer, thaw briefly, bake and enjoy.

coffeeshopmuser's picture

Thanks Henry, that was definetely helpful.

Scones i know, are one of the most basic baking recipes, But I cant seem to make them the way my Nan used to, or the way they do at cafes.

There are loads of different recipes online, but do you mind me asking if you have a  one that you might be able to share with me?

Thankyou if you might, ! =)

Thegreenbaker's picture

NO I can never make scone slike Grammie did or like cafes.......

I have no idea how they do it! How they get that soft foury top mmmmmmmm yuuuum!


browndog's picture

I make scones, and thought I was good at it, but now you guys have got me wondering what I'm missing?

What's an English/cafe/Grammie scone like?

More importantly, what's the recipe? 

mkelly27's picture

 you've evoked a spate of Welsh Cake making due to begin in my household tommorrow, probably some Soda Bread to boot.  My yeast baking is done for the weekend so I can do some fun stuff on Sunday.


Redundancy is your friend, so is redundancy

coffeeshopmuser's picture

hmm....the best i can describe the scones my nan makes is the familiar fresh-baked smell that always wafts through her house - and describing smells is hard! =).

For cafe style scones which always seem so perfect in looks, its the way it always rises perfectly, with the soft floury tops. But yep, Im also looking for that classic scone recipe too, Browndog. I went to the States last year, and while the scones there were great, i found it v. sweet in many places i went, and with too many flavors like Blueberry/chocolate; Maple nut; cheese and chives; etc, i realised that by the time i left the States, i thought of the scones there as cakes, and not the traditional scone anymore =(. 

If anyone has any recipes to share, please do =)

Mkelly27, it sounds like a great Sunday at your place this week,  i hope you have fun!!

browndog's picture

(This is my regular recipe. It makes a tender, biscuity, not-at-all sweet or cake-like scone that needs only butter and jam to perfect it. But the top is not particularly soft. Maybe if you brushed it with milk or butter?)

Mrs McNab's Scones 16 small scones

2 c ap flour, approximately (sorry)

1 tsp each salt & baking soda

2 tsp cream of tartar

3 tbsp butter, at room temp

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 c buttermilk, at room temp


1. Mix and rub butter into the dry ingredients.

2. Gradually add egg and buttermilk into the flour mixture. If it is too moist and sticks to the hands, add a sprinkle of flour.

3. Turn the dough on to a lightly floured surface and knead as little as possible to achieve a soft, pliable dough.

4. Divide into 4 parts. Flatten each with your knuckles--not a rolling pin--into a round disc, about 6" in diameter and 1/2" thick. Prick a dozen times with the tines of a fork. With the moistened edge of a kitchen knife, cut into quarters. Lift each onto a greased baking sheet.

Bake 15 minutes at 375 degrees, til a lovely light tan. Don't scorch.

Best freshly prepared and hot.

Bernard Clayton's Complete Book of Breads


and from James Beard's On Bread:

Girdle Scones 8-12 scones

2 c ap flour

1 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp baking soda

Buttermilk or sour cream


Combine dry ingredients. Take a cupful of the mixture and combine it with enough buttermilk or sour cream to make a soft dough. Pat it with the hand on a floured board to form a circle 1/2" thick. Cut in wedges and bake on a floured griddle over medium heat until lightly browned, then turn to brown on the other side. Serve hot or cold.

(I have not tried these.)

Henry's picture

half sheet panhalf sheet pan4 varieties4 varietiescube buttercube butterall ingredientsall ingredients2 heads at 750 gm2 heads at 750 gmhow I do scone makeuphow I do scone makeup 

I’m sure there are books that deal only with scones. You could probably write a chapter on flour types; all purpose, self raising (which I’ve never used) or even bread flour for scones, and another one on fats: be it shortening, butter, oil or lard. I’ve never been to England and don’t know what an English scone is but a British cook at work gave me his recipe and it’s the one I’m currently using with a slight change. He tells me there is no sugar in the scone because people add jam. Fair enough. I’ve added ten percent sugar to his recipe as people here hold a coffee in one hand and scone in the other. At every place I’ve worked, the scones are usually made in a different manner. So, coffeeshopmuser, here is one of many recipes, this one I made earlier today. This recipe works well. I make the scones and move on to something else. You can play with this recipe and make changes that suit you, example: less or no sugar, no fruit etc. To make 2 heads, each weighing 750 grams; total weight 1500 grams 

 Total Flour (A/P) 600 grams

Sugar  60

Double Acting Baking Powder  42

Cold unsalted butter, 170

Raisins  215

Sour Cream  240

Homogenized Milk 180 ml( + or - depending on your flour)

 I scaled two heads at this weight for you, so each scone will be (750 divided by 6 pieces) = 125gms which might be a nice size. The scones I made for work are smaller, weighing 80 grams, as there are also a lot of other breakfast items available for buffet such as croissants, muffins and Danish. I cut mine as one might a croissant, only because it’s faster and today I had to make about 300 scones. Flour, sugar, baking powder and butter are mixed. This becomes my scone base. Now you can add just your sour cream and milk to get a plain scone. I needed to make raisin, cheese and cranberry scones today so I start with my scone base and add fruit as needed. (Lot of places make up a scone base to last the week. Every morning you scale off the scone base that you need, add dried fruit if desired, and liquid. Fast and easy.) I’ve placed the scones on a commercial size, half sheet pan to show how I make up my product when I bake at home. The pan fits in my home oven comfortably as well as my apartment freezer. I have no time in the morning to make up scones, so todays are egg washed, sprinkled with medium coarse sugar, (with exception of the cheese scones) and frozen. Tomorrow or the following day, I take out what I need and let sit out at room temp while my oven is full with croissant and Danish. I then bake the scones. You can do this at home. Make them up ahead of time and come Sunday morning or whatever day, take them out and bake. They’re already egg washed, sugared and ready for action!

Hope this has been of help

Kindest regards Henry

coffeeshopmuser's picture

Thanks Henry, Browndog, and everyone else - Greatly appreciated!

I will def. try these, and maybe one day I will be the grandma that makes great scones =)


joem6112's picture

Take a look at America Test Kitchen web site for blueberry scones recipe. It's one of their free ones and looks fairly simple. Saw them made on TV. Looks GOOD!! Good method. I will try them soom

uluro's picture

2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup white sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tablespoon Baking Powder

1 cup dried fruit, chopped small

1 cup heavy cream.


Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Add dried fruit and mix.  In another bowl place the heavy cream; add the dry ingredients and mix.

Dump dough onto a floured surface and pull together into a flat disc, about 11 inches in diameter.  With a sharp knife, cut into quarters, then cut each quarter into thirds. This makes 12 wedges.

Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 15 min in a 425 degree oven.



tjkoko's picture

I use the recipe for CREAM SCONES from PR's Crust and Crumb book.