Whence the Scone?

That’s an awfully difficult question to answer. There’s no question that scones are descendants of Scottish oat and/or barley cakes. The word is actually Scottish in origin. “Skons” is how they pronounce them up that way. “Skoans” is the pronunciation I mostly heard down in Devon and Cornwall.

The barley cakes of old weren’t polite little circular scones like they have all over Britain today. A couple of hundred years ago they were made in one large, flat round which was placed on a hot griddle and flipped, sort of like a huge pancake. The finished cake was then cut into big wedges which were then buttered and eaten hot.

If that sounds awfully like an American scone, you’d be right. Ours are large and wedge-shaped though we bake them these days instead of griddle them. So it seems that at least from an historical standpoint American scones are closer to the way the Scots originally prepared them. Does that make them necessarily better? The answer, because “authenticity” is a non-word in the Joe Pastry lexicon, is no.

2 thoughts on “Whence the Scone?”

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more about authenticity; who cares? I guess some do. I do hate cutting scone dough (and biscuit dough) into those little 2 inch circles, but they rise so much higher and more evenly because of the cut edge..so I do it and grumble.

    1. I hear that. These biscuit-like recipes come together so fast it really doesn’t bother me. But we all have things in the kitchen we’d rather not do!

      – Joe

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