American scones have been much maligned by Brits and by health nuts. Both groups decry them for their high sugar content, their dense texture, and their frequent inclusion of ingredients you might find in a kitchen-sink cookie.
Sure, Starbucks glazed behemoths are nothing to write home about. But there is something to be said for the Americanized scone not as a clownish imitation of a British staple, but as a delicious pastry in its own right. As any stickler will tell you, an authentic English or Scottish scone pronounced as though there were no e at the end is much like an American baking-powder biscuit. It might contain oats in addition to flour, and it might come studded with currants, but it wont be too sweet, and it certainly wont bear any type of sugary topping. The purpose of a British scone is to be a lofty, feathery vehicle for jam and clotted cream and, above all, an accompaniment to tea.
American scones are different, and that difference can be a beautiful thing. An American scone does not need jam or clotted cream or any filling, really: Its a self-contained snack (though an extra smear of butter never killed anyone ... at least not right away). Its pleasantly sweet, and it has wiggle room for all sorts of additions: spices, fruits, nuts, even chocolate. Freed of cultural baggage and expectations of authenticity, the American scone is flexible in shape and content. Like Dylan going electric, this casting off of tradition may upset some people. But such flexibility is key to the deliciousness of a great American scone.
This recipe makes careful use of that flexibility. (Its based on an excellent Pillsbury recipe erroneously titled Scottish Scones.) These scones are sweet, but not cloying; theyre coated with a little cinnamon sugar instead of a sticky glaze. Theyre not gargantuan, since enormous scones have a tendency to be dense and doughy; you can eat a couple of these without feeling overstuffed. Theyre rich, thanks to butter and cream, but enhancing them with a handful of chopped pecans or chocolate chips would not be overdoing it. The cream and oats are a nod to their British forerunners, but the cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and (two kinds of) sugar make it clear that these are something different.
If what you want is a bready foundation for jam, youre better off with buttermilk biscuits, anyway.
For a printable copy of the recipe, click the link: