Master gluten-free scones with tips from our resident baking expert, and impress your guests at breakfast or afternoon tea.
Flaky, dense, with just enough moisture, a scone is a savory treat to enjoy just about any time of day. They can be eaten with jam, cream or a variety of toppings and are exquisite served alongside coffee or tea. Perfecting gluten-free scones need not be daunting. Here are my tips for learning to bake your best scones.
Scones are traditionally sweet but also can be more on the savory side, though they are not biscuits. Of course, that might lead to much discussion as to which is better, but of course, the two baked goods are different. Biscuits and scones both come from the quick bread family. Leavening action is produced mainly from the use of some type of chemical leaveners and supplemented by the production of steam, produced once many of the “liquefiers” begin to melt, then boil during the baking process.
When it comes to making a gluten-free scone, you might first find a high-quality dry scone mix that suits your needs. If not, then let’s look at some considerations. A scone can include a solid fat or even a liquid form of fat (especially if using heavy cream). The flour is relatively low in protein.
It’s more about including enough stabilizers within the overall liquid-based ingredients to provide the flour mixture with sufficient hydration and strengthening properties. That’s why I prefer to use some liquid whole eggs or even liquid egg whites. Try to include at least ¼ of the total liquid content with either egg substance. The remaining liquid is best made up of a high fat content liquid, such as classically heavy cream. If dairy is an issue, then select a plant-based milk beverage and supplement with some additional fat, like oil. Use close to ¾ cups of total liquid to two cups of gluten-free flour.
Here are some suggestions to get you started. They’re based on using two cups of a gluten-free flour mixture, which does not have any added salt, sugars or fats added.
- Any scone will contain a chemical leaveners, whether baking powder (first choice) or baking soda (with the use of an acid-based liquid in the recipe, like buttermilk). Baking powder is best, and if you’re unsure whether the baking powder is gluten free, then make your own! Use 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar, 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of cornstarch. Mix all together and sift before using. Use two teaspoons of baking powder to two cups of flour.
- Add a small pinch of salt, for flavor enhancement, of course.
- The sugar, preferably granulated to help with providing tenderness, can be white granulated or even turbinado. Use about ⅓ cup of sugar to two cups of gluten-free flour.
- Typically, scones contain some type of dried fruit to impart texture and sweetness. Depending on the texture of the mixed dough, the dried fruits can be added in the dry form. But if your dough has been stored in the fridge overnight and it has a very firm texture, then cover the dried fruits with hot water. Allow the fruits to hydrate in the water for 15 minutes. Drain off the excess liquid, then add approximately half a cup of the plump fruits to the dough.
If your scone dough is wet, cover it with wax paper, then refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. This will help to tighten up the mixture. Portion out and cover with egg wash (if you prefer a shiny, golden color) or cover lightly with a small mixture of ¼ cup of sugar and ¼ cup of gluten-free flour (for a more classic, rustic look).
If the mixture is quite firm, then skip the refrigeration and proceed straight to portioning. The oven should be preheated to 400° F. After five minutes, lower the temperature to 350° F. The internal temperature of your scones should be 190° F or higher at the center before they are finished baking.
Allow to cool, briefly, while you are brewing tea or coffee, and enjoy this treat.
Richard Coppedge Jr. is an award-winning chef and professor of baking and pastry arts at The Culinary Institute of America. He is the author of Gluten-Free Baking with The Culinary Institute of America.