Brown Butter Cream Scones – crumbly and crisp on the outside, tender, light and moist on the inside. These scones are perfectly sweet, with lots of toasty brown butter and a crisp, sugary top.
Brown and chill your brown butter the night before for scones in the morning. Brown your butter in the morning for scones in the afternoon.
Makes 8 to 10 scones.
- 10 tablespoons (141 g) unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons (31 g) powdered milk
- 3 cups (360 g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (18 g) baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon (3 g) fine salt
- 1 cup (240 ml) plus 2 tablespoons (30 ml) heavy cream, divided
- 4 teaspoons (17 g) Turbinado sugar (a.k.a. Sugar-in-the-Raw)
1. Brown the butter. Chill until solid. Chop into pieces and freeze.
Prepare the brown butter a couple of hours before making the scones (or even the night before).
– Have a heat-proof bowl set nearby.
Brown the butter:
– In a large heavy-bottomed pot, (use a light-colored or stainless steel pot so you can see the progress of the butter browning) heat the butter over medium-high heat.
– Swirl the pan around to heat the butter evenly. Allow the butter to sputter, bubble and foam.
– Once the sputtering starts to subside and the butter begins to turn clear beneath the foam, sprinkle in the milk powder. (It will be foamy.)
– Turn the heat down to medium.
– Continue to swirl the butter around and stir with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, scraping up any browning bits sticking to the bottom of the pot.
– Once the milk solids have turned a deep brown (about the color of butterscotch) and the butter smells toasty and nutty, immediately remove from heat and pour into the heat-proof bowl. Be sure to scrape in all the brown milk solids stuck to the bottom of the pot.
Cool the brown butter:
– Let the brown butter cool and solidify.
– Once the butter has cooled and thickened, stir it to distribute the browned milk solids evenly throughout the butter.
Chill the brown butter:
– Chill the butter in the refrigerator until solid.
Break the brown butter into pieces and freeze:
– Using a butter knife or spoon, break up, chisel or scrape the solid brown butter into small pieces.
– Freeze the pieces of brown butter until ready to make the scones. (See TIPS)
2. Prepare the baking sheets.
– Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Or grease a baking sheet, preferably light-colored.
3. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients. (See TIPS)
– Pulse the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor a few times until well mixed.
– Add the frozen brown butter pieces. Stir it up a bit so that the frozen brown butter pieces are coated with the flour.
– Pulse about 15 times or until the brown butter is well-cut and the flour assumes the texture of meal.
– Pour the flour mixture into a large bowl.
4. Stir in the cream.
– Pour in 1 cup of the heavy cream into the flour mixture. (Set the remaining 2 tablespoons of cream aside.)
– Stir the cream into the flour mixture with a wooden spoon until moistened.
– Then use your hands to lightly bring dough together.
5. Knead the dough just until it comes together, then pat into rounds. (See TIPS)
– Turn the dough out onto a smooth surface and knead as briefly as possible, bringing in the loose bits, pushing everything together, and folding the dough over just until it all comes together.
– The dough will start out a bit shaggy and may seem dry, but should come together after a few turns of bringing in the loose dough, pushing it all together, and folding over – maybe around 15 to 20 turns or so.
- You can use a pastry scraper to lift and fold the shaggy mixture until it comes together.
– Divide the dough in two and pat and shape each half into 3/4-inch thick rounds.
6. Rest and refrigerate the dough.
– Wrap the rounds with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and as long as 2 or 3 days.
7. Preheat the oven.
– When ready to bake the scones, preheat the oven to 500°F (260°C).
– Place the oven racks in the middle position.
8. Cut out the scones.
– While the oven is preheating, cut out the scones using a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter or scone cutter.
- Do not twist the cutter. Just press and lift. Twisting can sometimes ruin the scone’s rise.
– Place the scones on the prepared baking sheet at least 1 1/2-inches apart.
– Gently pat and fold any scraps until 3/4-inch thick and cut out more scones. Or just shape into rounds with your hands for drop scones.
9. Chill the scones while waiting for the oven to preheat.
– Let the scones rest in the refrigerator for a short time, about 5 minutes, or until the oven is done preheating, whichever is longest.
10. Glaze and sugar the unbaked scones. (See TIPS)
– Using fingers, glaze the tops of the scones lightly with the remaining heavy cream, being careful not to let any excess cream run down the sides of the scones. (That will interfere with the scone’s rise.)
– Sprinkle the tops with the Turbinado sugar.
11. Turn the oven down to 425°F (218°C) and bake.
– Place the scones in the preheated oven and immediately turn the oven down to 425°F (218°C).
– Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and the edges are starting to look crisp. (See TIPS)
– Do not overbake.
12. Serve warm.
– Move the scones to a cooling rack and serve. They are best when warm!
Storing and re-heating:
– Scones are at their best the day they are made. Even better when they are still warm.
– They can be stored in an airtight container for a few days and then refrigerated for a couple more.
– To reheat them, place them in a 300°F (148°C) oven for 5 to 10 minutes.
ABOUT THIS RECIPE
These Brown Butter Cream Scones are sweet, buttery and toasty. They have a crumbly and crisp exterior, but are also fluffy, soft and moist inside, especially when they are still warm. These scones are speckled with nutty brown butter and topped with Turbinado sugar for a little extra sweetness and a pleasant crunch.
Scones only take about an hour to make, except for the brown butter. The brown butter needs to be made, chilled and then frozen. So, if you want your scones in the morning, make your brown butter and freeze it the night before. If you are making your scones for the afternoon, you can make and freeze your brown butter that morning.
Here are 7 helpful tips:
1) When browning your butter…
Use a heavy-bottomed saucepan, preferably stainless steel or light-colored.
– Use a heavy-bottomed saucepan, preferably stainless steel or light-colored, so you can see the progress of the butter browning.
– If you do not have a heavy-bottomed saucepan, brown your butter at a lower heat to prevent it from burning. (It can burn quickly, so be vigilant.)
Have a heat-proof bowl nearby.
– Have a heat-proof bowl nearby where you can pour out the brown butter as soon as it is done. If left in the hot pot, it will continue to cook and go from brown to burnt pretty quickly.
Milk powder makes brown butter even better.
– Adding milk powder to your butter while browning will intensify its flavor even more. The toasted milk solids is where the flavor is. And just a couple of tablespoons of milk powder can add enough extra toasted milk solids to really boost that flavor over the top!
- Below: Brown butter before and after adding powdered milk. More milk solids equals more flavor!
*For more about browning butter, visit my page How to Brown Butter (and Make It Even Better!).
2) Colder ingredients help make taller, more tender scones.
– Brown butter: Break up or chisel the chilled brown butter with a spoon or butter knife into little pieces, then place the pieces of butter in the freezer.
– Flour, etc.: If your kitchen is very warm, you can place the flour or the entire bowl of ingredients, except the cream, into the freezer until everything is well-chilled.
– Heavy cream: Keep the cream in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.
*Another way to freeze the butter: Pour the cooled, thickened, stirred brown butter into a shallow dish lined with plastic wrap or wax paper and freeze. When frozen solid, peel off the plastic wrap and chop the brown butter on a cutting board.
3) Handle the dough briefly and lightly for a tender scone.
– Scones require a tender touch. It is important to handle the dough quickly and lightly. The less you handle the dough, the more tender your scones will be.
– This dough may seem pretty crumbly and dry to start, but with a little patience, it will all come together. Aim for bringing your dough together in about 10 to 15 folds, no more than 20.
- “Folding” the dough creates layers for a nice tall rise.
4) Sprinkling sugar on the scones…
– This recipe calls for Turbinado sugar, also known as Sugar-in-the-Raw, for sprinkling on top of the scones. It is a partially refined brown sugar that has larger crystals than regular sugar and gives the scones a nice crunch. Demerara sugar, which is similar but with even larger crystals, can also be used. Good old granulated sugar will do just fine, too, and will give a sugar-cookie-like element to the scones.
– Of course, you don’t have to sprinkle on anything at all. The scones are just as delicious as is.
5) Misshapen scones:
– For some of us, there will be misshapen scones – maybe lopsided or tipped over. Accept it. They will still be delicious. Here are some tips that may help for next time:
- Work the dough lightly. Overworked dough will be tough and may not rise as it should.
- Do not twist the biscuit or scone cutter. Just press and lift.
- When glazing the tops of the unbaked scones with cream, do not let any cream drip down the sides of the scone.
– If you wish, drizzle a sugar glaze on the misshapen baked scones. A good glaze can hide a multitude of imperfections.
- Stir together 2 cups powdered sugar with 2 to 4 tablespoons heavy cream and 2 tablespoons melted butter.
6) Do not overbake.
– The given baking time in any recipe is just a reference. Ovens vary. Once you can smell the scones from the oven, it is a good idea to start looking in on them. When the scones are golden brown on top and look crisp at the edges, they are done.
- If your scones are browning too quickly on top, tent with foil.
- If your scones are browning too quickly on the bottom, place another baking sheet under the scones to insulate.
7) Scones freeze well.
– Baked scones can be frozen up to 3 months.
- Wrap individually in plastic wrap or between pieces of wax or parchment paper and then place in Ziploc-style freezer bags.
- When ready to eat, thaw and then re-heat in a 300°F (148°C) for 5 to 10 minutes.
A little scone history?