Indulge in the Iconic British Afternoon Tea: A Simple Scone Recipe that will Impress

When it comes to the ultimate British culinary experience, nothing quite compares to the iconic afternoon tea. This beloved tradition transcends time and is cherished by locals and visitors alike. From the elegantly stacked tiers of delicate sandwiches, pastries, and cakes to the fragrant aroma of freshly brewed tea, an afternoon tea is a quintessential British ritual that deserves to be celebrated.

One of the most coveted treats of any traditional afternoon tea is the scone. These light and fluffy pastries hold a special place in the hearts of tea enthusiasts around the world. And what better way to truly immerse yourself in the British tea culture than by baking your own batch of scones?

The Origins of Afternoon Tea

The concept of afternoon tea dates back to the early 19th century when Anna, the Duchess of Bedford, reportedly experienced hunger pangs during the long gap between lunch and dinner. To satisfy her cravings, she began requesting a tray of tea, bread, butter, and cake to be served in her room during the late afternoon. Soon, she started inviting friends to join her, and the tradition of afternoon tea was born.

Over the years, afternoon tea evolved into a more elaborate affair. Tea rooms and hotels in London began serving an assortment of sandwiches, scones, pastries, and, of course, tea. Today, afternoon tea has become an indulgent treat that allows people to take a break from their hectic lives and connect over a shared love for delectable treats and conversation.

The Perfect Scone Recipe

While many variations of scones exist, the classic plain scone remains a timeless favorite. There's something truly satisfying about biting into a warm scone, smothered in clotted cream and strawberry jam.

Here's a simple yet foolproof recipe for traditional British scones:

  • Ingredients:
  • - 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • - 1/4 cup of granulated sugar
  • - 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • - 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • - 5 tablespoons of cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • - 1/2 cup of milk
  • - 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • - 1 beaten egg (for brushing)


  1. Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Add the cold cubed butter to the dry ingredients. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the milk and vanilla extract. Gradually pour this mixture into the dry ingredients while stirring with a spatula or wooden spoon. Mix until the dough comes together.
  5. Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Gently knead it a few times until it becomes smooth.
  6. Roll out the dough to approximately 1-inch (2.5 cm) thickness. Using a round cookie cutter or a glass, cut out scones and place them on the prepared baking sheet.
  7. Brush the tops of the scones with the beaten egg to give them a beautiful golden color.
  8. Bake the scones for about 12-15 minutes or until they have risen and turned golden brown.
  9. Remove the scones from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack.

Once your scones have cooled, it's time to prepare the perfect serving. Slice them in half horizontally and generously slather with clotted cream and strawberry jam. Serve alongside a pot of freshly brewed tea for the authentic British afternoon tea experience.

Tips and Variations

If you want to take your scones to the next level, here are a few tips and variations to try:

  • For a fruity twist, add a handful of dried currants, raisins, or cranberries to the dough before baking.
  • To achieve an extra light and fluffy texture, sift the dry ingredients before combining with the butter.
  • Experiment with different flavors by incorporating grated lemon or orange zest into the dough.
  • If clotted cream is not readily available, whipped cream or butter are also delicious accompaniments to scones.


Indulging in the iconic British afternoon tea is a delightful experience that allows you to savor the rich history and traditions of a bygone era. And what better way to elevate your tea time than by baking your own batch of scones? With this simple recipe and a few tips, you can impress your family and friends with a taste of British culinary heritage.

So, put on your apron, brew a pot of tea, and let the heavenly aroma of freshly baked scones fill your home. Your own British afternoon tea awaits!