Sultana, buttermilk and lemon zest scones

Sultana, buttermilk and lemon zest scones

The Tivoli Road Baker
Bonnie Savage and Alan Benson

My Gran made excellent scones when I was a kid. The Cornish are sticklers for the way scones are served – we always put the jam on first, followed by the cream. It seems the only proper way. Buttermilk, zest and sultanas make these scones really flavoursome. They are an excellent stage for cream and jam, which need to be applied lavishly.


Quantity Ingredient
100g sultanas
400g plain flour
100g whole-wheat flour
15g baking powder
2g salt
70g soft brown sugar
zest 1 lemon, finely grated
220g butter, in 1 cm (½ in) dice, chilled
300g buttermilk
1 whole egg
pinch salt


  1. Cover the sultanas with water and leave to soak for an hour.
  2. Sift together the flours, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl, then mix in the sugar and lemon zest.
  3. Tip the dry ingredients out onto the bench and scatter over the cubed butter. Use a rolling pin to break the butter into the flour, gathering the flour in as you go until you have a crumbly textured mixture with pea-sized lumps of butter still visible. Having small chunks of butter helps the scones rise, so be careful not to overmix at this stage.
  4. Drain the sultanas and squeeze out any excess liquid, then make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the buttermilk and sultanas into the middle. Use a spoon to gently ‘cut’ the flour into the wet mix. You want to bring it together into a dough, handling it as little as possible so you don’t melt the butter or work the gluten in the flour. Tip it onto a lightly floured bench and gently push the ingredients together into a slab about 4 cm (1½ in) high.
  5. Cut out the scones using a 6½ cm (2½ in) round cookie cutter and place them on a tray lined with baking paper, evenly spaced. Refrigerate the scones for a couple of hours to set the butter back into the dough.
  6. Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F). Lightly whisk the egg and salt, and brush this mixture onto the top of each scone (any leftover buttermilk would also work well for this). Place the tray in the oven and turn the heat down to 180°C (360°F). Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the tray around and bake for another 5 minutes. These are best eaten fresh on the day they’re baked, preferably still warm with lashings of jam and cream, and a nice cup of tea.

Bakery notes

  • I use a little bit of whole-wheat flour in these scones because I like them to taste wholesome and homely. You could use just plain flour if you prefer. The dough keeps well in the freezer and can be baked from frozen as required.
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