This gluten-free scone is a winner in any competition, with multiple variations that give it a lot of flexibility. The only confusion is about how to pronounce it. Americans like to rhyme scone and cone, but in Scotland, where it was most likely created, it rhymes with con and John (or kwan for you martial arts types). But no matter how you say it, everyone agrees a scone is a perfect treat. They’re delicious and endlessly adaptable, appearing at breakfast, coffee break, and formal teas.
There are rock scones, cream scones, plain scones, and scones made with milk, buttermilk, or sour cream. With eggs, without eggs, you name it, there’s a variation and that’s not counting favorites like blueberry, lemon-poppy seed, chocolate and cranberry-walnut.
This recipe doesn’t use a gum like xanthan or guar because it’s not necessary in quick breads, though many gluten-free recipes call for one. I think they make the product taste gummy and kind of weird, so I rarely use them. Only yeast breads need the structural support that a gum provides and even then, you can substitute chia or flax seeds mixed with hot water to form a slurry that mimics the properties of the gums.
Gluten-free flours are an advantage when making quick breads, compared to wheat which requires a light touch and as little mixing as possible. That’s because mixing activates the gluten in wheat, which creates a tough texture. A good quick bread depends on how tender the crumb is. You can mix most gluten-free dough as much as you want and still get a delicate crumb. Be careful with dough that contain blueberries. They will taste great no matter how much you mix them, but the purple dough might be a little strange.
You will get better results if you weigh the flour instead of using a cup to measure it by volume. That’s because the volume of flour is different depending upon the humidity, the method used to measure it, how it’s stored and what type of flour you’re using. By the way, the article I linked to above states that an average cup of wheat flour weighs 4 1/4 ounces, but when I measure I usually get about 5 ounces in a cup. If you want to adapt a favorite recipe to use gluten-free flour, I suggest measuring a cup of wheat flour, then weighing it in grams on a digital scale. Do this several times to see what the average weight of a cup of flour is when you measure it, then use that number to calculate how many grams of flour are in the recipe you are converting. Most quick bread recipes will convert perfectly if you replace the wheat flour with the same weight of gluten-free flour. You may have to tinker a bit with the liquid.. Yeast doughs are a completely different matter, so stick to a recipe from a trusted source for best results if you want to bake that kind of bread.
Each gluten-free flour mix will taste different, which means part of adapting a recipe is deciding on the blend you like the best. I like to use almond flour, brown rice flour, tapioca starch and potato starch in a 70:30 mix of flour to starch (see below for exact proportions). The beauty of working with a gluten-free blend is that if one of the flours doesn’t agree with you, substitute an equal weight of another flour.
Keep the ingredients in the fridge or freezer until time to use them so that the butter stays firm. This make flaky layers in the finished scone.
Cream is a low-lactose food according to “Food Intolerance Management Plan”, by Sue Shepherd. Most people with lactose intolerance can handle about 4 grams of lactose per serving of food without experiencing problems (page 29). Cream has less than 1 gram of lactose per tablespoon. Since there’s 1 tablespoon of cream per serving in this recipe that’s less than a gram of lactose per muffin. As always, only eat what your body can tolerate, and only you know what that is.
Note: Research now says that almonds should be limited to about 10 nuts per serving, so only eat a small serving of this. Ten nuts weigh about 12 grams. To calculate how much of this you can safely eat, divide the 150 grams of almond meal in the recipe by the 12 grams per allowed serving to get 12.5 servings total. The recipe makes 12 scones, so a safe serving is 1 scone.
Makes 12 wedges, adapted from “How to Bake”
425 grams (3 2/3 cup) gluten-free flour mix (see below)
50 grams (1/3 cup or 80 ml) dextrose or 1/4 cup (60 ml) sugar
1 tablespoon (15 ml) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) salt
72 grams (5 tablespoons or 75 ml) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup (180 ml) currants, raisins, blueberries, chocolate chips, or nuts
170 grams (3/4 cup or 180 ml) cream, regular or lactose-free
Extra cream to brush across tops of scones
1 tablespoon (15 ml) plain or cinnamon sugar to sprinkle on scones
Move the top oven rack to the middle and pre-heat the oven to 450°F (230°C). Cover a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with foil or parchment paper. Combine the flour, dextrose or sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. If you plan to add frozen blueberries to the dough, reserve a 1/4 cup of the flour mixture and toss the blueberries in it. Put the bowl with the blueberries into the freezer. Add the butter to the remaining flour and use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse-grained meal. Don’t turn the dough into a paste: if you run your fingers through the flour you should feel small nubs of butter. If you are using a mix-in such as blueberries, currants or chocolate chips, stir it in so that it is evenly distributed in the flour. Put the bowl into the freezer for 5 minutes to harden the butter.
Put the cream and the eggs into a small bowl and mix until completely combined. Remove the flour bowl from the freezer and add the cream to it, stirring just until the mixture forms a dough. Dust a hard surface with sweet rice flour or a few tablespoons of the same flour mix that you used to make the dough. Dump the dough onto the work surface and divide it into three even pieces. It will be sticky, but don’t add any more flour or the scone will be too heavy. Dust your hands with some flour and gently shape the pieces of dough into 5 inch circles about an inch thick.
Transfer the circles to the prepared cookie sheet. Use a metal pancake turner if the dough is sticking to the work surface. Brush a tablespoon or so of heavy cream over the top of each circle, then sprinkle each one with either sugar or cinnamon sugar, depending upon your preference. Wet a long, sharp knife and use it to cut each of the circles into four pieces. There will be 12 triangles total. Don’t move them, as the final shape of the triangles will be nicer if they bake together. Put the cookie sheet into the oven and bake until the surface is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring the scones to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Gluten-free Flour Blend
This makes enough for two batches of scones, plus a bit extra.
350 grams (12 ounces) superfine brown rice flour
350 grams (12 ounces) blanched almond flour
150 grams (5 ounces) potato starch
150 grams (5 ounces) tapioca flour
Mix the ingredients together in a stand mixer or whisk them together in a large bowl. Transfer the flour blend into a large glass jar or a plastic zip lock bag and store it in the fridge or freezer.