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The Perfect Whole Grain Scones

January 30, 2012

As you may know, I have a serious travel bug. If money and time and, you know, life allowed me to, I would hop on a plane every time I got the inkling to go off somewhere. But sometimes you don’t need an airplane to travel to far-off destinations. Sometimes all it takes is a bite of a particular food to transport you. A bite of baguette smeared with butter takes me back to France, a taste of manuka honey brings me to New Zealand, a sip of a mango margarita flies me down to Mexico. A buttery scone dolloped with jam, washed down with a warm drink, is my ticket to Ireland.

I’ve made many, many versions of scones in my life, always trying to recreate that ubiquitous Irish teatime treat. And although I’ve made some delicious “scones”, as we Americans might refer to them, they weren’t quite right. You see, what the Irish call a scone we Americans might call a biscuit, or a shortcake even. Irish scones aren’t cut in wedges, they’re round, lightly sweet, pillowy and meant for spreading apart and slathering with butter and jam.

But they are more often than not made with plain flour, white and far from nutritious (though that didn’t stop me from eating one every day in Ireland last summer). So this has been my goal: to create a whole grain version of a classic Irish scone that satisfied all my cravings for my favorite afternoon pick me up. Luckily for me, this month’s Daring Baker’s Challenge urged me to do just that. Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers’ host. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (a/k/a biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens!

I made four batches of scones in my pursuit of perfection. The first ones: flat, the second ones: dry, the third: bitter from baking powder. But the fourth batch: tall, flaky, the flavors balanced…and perfect with jam and a cup of coffee. I’m half tempted to covet the recipe and refuse to share it, but that would go against all notions of Irish hospitality.

I give you my secret recipe:

Perfect Whole Grain Scones

© Copyright 2012 Carly Sullivan, Tart to Heart

Yield: 8-10 large scones


  • 8 oz whole wheat pastry flour (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 8 oz whole oat flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • Raw sugar and mixed seeds for garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet and set aside.
  2. Using a box grater, grate the butter, then place in the freezer.
  3. Meanwhile, sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the frozen grated butter to the dry ingredients and use your hands to lightly rub the butter into the flour. Add the sugar and toss the mixture to combine.
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add the beaten egg and most of the half and half. Mix with your hands until a sticky dough forms, adding a splash more half and half as needed for it to come together.
  5. Lightly flour a work surface and turn the dough out of the bowl. Form into a rough rectangle, dust with flour, and roll the dough lengthwise to form a long rectangle.
  6. Fold the rectangle of dough into thirds like a letter. Roll out lengthwise again, then fold into thirds a second time.
  7. Gently roll the dough so it is an even 3/4-inch thick. Use a round cutter dipped in flour to cut rounds out of the dough. Be sure to press straight down on the cutter and not twist it. Lift straight up and gently remove the dough if it sticks. Place the rounds on the prepared baking sheet.
  8. Gather the scraps and repeat the rolling and folding process as before. Cut rounds from the remaining dough until it is all used up.
  9. Brush the scones with some of the half and half and sprinkle with raw sugar and seeds if desired.
  10. Bake the scones until golden brown and fairly firm when you squeeze the sides, about 15 minutes. Let cool at least 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Cut in half, spread with jam, and enjoy!

Now that I have this basic scone recipe down, I intend to mix it up, adding different ingredients to the dough for different variations. Dried fruit, nuts, herbs, you name it! Let me know what you decide to try!

15 Comments leave one →
  1. January 30, 2012 1:26 pm

    These look lovely and quite delicious! Nicely done.

  2. January 30, 2012 1:30 pm

    This scone has almost the look of the interior of Irish soda bread. Thanks for sharing.

  3. January 30, 2012 2:09 pm

    These looks so pretty and healthy as well.. bonus! I love that you copyright.. that’s not a bad idea these days with all the “reblogging” going on. I’m just happy that you have an Irish sensibility:)

  4. January 30, 2012 2:37 pm

    I want to make these – look delicious. Thanks for sharing!

  5. January 30, 2012 3:50 pm

    Yum! This pictures are great– the tops of these scones are so pretty.

  6. January 31, 2012 7:16 am

    Wow….looks soooooooooooo good… do amazing work….

  7. A Tablespoon of Liz permalink
    January 31, 2012 7:18 am

    These scones look amazing, and your photos are gorgeous! I’m just like you, If I had the means, I’d travel everywhere all the time!

  8. February 2, 2012 4:46 pm

    Reblogged this on booklovershere.

  9. February 6, 2012 5:57 am

    Um, YUM. I was just trying to decide what to bake today…

  10. February 7, 2012 6:01 am

    They look so perfect!!!!:D

  11. February 7, 2012 8:38 am

    These are wonderful. I feed kids so I love the whole grain part. This is one of my favorite new blogs.

  12. February 10, 2012 2:12 am

    Well done, these look gorgeous. I grew up with my mother’s and then my own wholemeal scones and they have always been heavy and dry. I’ve recently started making them half wholemeal and half white and that works really well. But I so like your idea of using half oats. Will have to give these a try.

    Strange, although I know soda bread is the big Irish tradition I’d never have thought of scones as being so, think of those very much in my own part of the world – South West of England. Shamefully for me, I’ve still not been to Ireland.

  13. February 13, 2012 9:13 am

    oh I must try these! yum!

  14. February 13, 2012 1:13 pm

    These soooooo good:) 🙂

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