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The scone is a small Britishmarker quickbread (or cake if recipe includes sugar) of Scottishmarker origin. Scones are especially popular in the United Kingdommarker, Australia, New Zealandmarker, Irelandmarker and Canadamarker, but are eaten in many other countries. They are usually made of wheat, barley or oatmeal, with baking powder as a leavening agent. The scone is a basic component of the cream tea or Devonshire tea.

The pronunciation of the word across the United Kingdom varies. According to one academic study, two-thirds of the British population pronounce it , rhyming with "con" and "John", with the preference rising to 99% in the Scottish population. The rest pronounce it , rhyming with "cone" and "Joan". British dictionaries usually show the "con" form as the preferred pronunciation, while recognizing that the "cone" form also exists.

The word scone derives perhaps from the Middle Dutch schoonbrood (fine white bread), from schoon (pure, clean) and brood (bread). The Oxford English Dictionary reports that the first mention of the word was in 1513.

The original scone was round and flat, usually the size of a small plate. It was made with unleavened oats and baked on a griddle (or girdle, in the Scots language), then cut into triangle-like quadrants for serving. Today, many would call the large round cake a bannock, and call the quadrants scones. In Scotland, the words are often used interchangeably.

When baking powder became available to the masses, scones began to be the oven-baked, well-leavened items we know today.Modern scones are widely available in British bakeries, grocery stores, and supermarkets. A 2005 market report estimated the UK scone market to be worth £64m, showing a 9% increase over the previous five years. The increase is partly due to an increasing consumer preference for impulse and convenience foods.

Scones sold commercially are usually round in shape, although some cheaper brands are hexagonal as this shape minimises wasteage of dough. When prepared at home, they take various shapes including triangles, rounds and squares. The baking of scones at home is often closely tied to heritage baking. They tend to be made from family recipes rather than recipe books, since it is often a family member who holds the "best" and most treasured recipe.


A fresh batch of homemade English buttermilk scones.
Scones with coffee

British scones are often lightly sweetened, but may also be savoury. They frequently include raisins, currant, cheese or dates. In Scotlandmarker and Ulster, savoury varieties of scone include soda scones, also known as soda farls, and potato scones, normally known as tattie scones, which resemble small, thin savoury pancakes made with potato flour and resemble latke. Potato scones are most commonly served fried in a full Scottish breakfast or an Ulster fry.

The griddle scone is a variety of scone which is fried rather than baked. In the Scots language, a griddle is referred to as a "girdle". Therefore "griddle scones" are known as "girdle scones". This usage is also common in New Zealandmarker where scones, of all varieties, form an important part of the traditional cuisine.

Another common variety is the dropped scone, or drop scone, after the method of dropping the batter onto the griddle or frying pan to cook it.

In some countries one may also encounter savoury varieties of scone which may contain or be topped with combinations of cheese, onion, bacon etc.

In the United States, scones are drier, larger and typically sweet. Those sold by coffee shops often include fillings such as cranberries, blueberries, nut, or even chocolate chips. More original fillings include Smarties and M&M's. There are also floral scone mixes available which make scones that taste like the scent of flowers such as rose, violet, jasmine, lavender, and orange blossoms.

A more recent version of the scone is the 'lemonade scone,' which is made with lemonade and cream instead of butter and milk. However, most fillings tend to be spices, including cinnamon and poppyseed.

Regional variations

Scones are popular in Irelandmarker as well as England and Scotland, and were chosen as the Republic of Irelandmarker representative for Café Europe during the Austrianmarker Presidency of the European Union in 2006 (the United Kingdom chose shortbread).Scones are also a popular baked good in the Scandinavian countries.

Pumpkin scones are a well-known variant in Australia, made famous during the period when Florence Bjelke-Petersen was in the public eye. Scones served with jam and cream, and accompanied by tea is popular throughout the country. This is commonly known as a Cream Tea.

In Canadamarker, scones are popular in the Pacific coastal province of British Columbiamarker and widely sold in both bakeries and ordinary grocery stores.

Scones are quite popular in Argentina (brought by Irish and English immigrants and from Welsh immigrants in Patagonia ). They are usually accompanied by tea, coffee or mate.

Round-shaped British scones can resemble North American biscuits in appearance, but scones rely on cold butter for their delicate, flaky texture, while biscuits are more often made with shortening and are crumbly rather than flaky. Also, while scones are served with coffee and tea or as a dessert, biscuits are served more as a side bread often with breakfast.

In Utahmarker, scones are made from a sweet yeast dough, with buttermilk and baking powder and/or soda added, and they are fried rather than baked. They are customarily served with butter and honey.

Other usage

In Scottish language the verb scon means to crush flat or beat with the open hand on a flat surface, and "scon-cap" or "scone-cap" refers to a man's broad flat cap or "bunnet".

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