Simple Provisions

Food does not need to be fancy to be celebrated

Buttermilk Fruit Scones | Simple Provisions

My friends and I started a tradition nearly ten years ago of the “Scone Off”. I don’t think I was even involved in the original heated discussion over whether lemonade scones were better than traditional scones, but somehow I got drawn in to a competition of who could cook the best scones.

The inaugural Scone Off was inappropriately held in the middle of Summer, on the hottest day of the year, in a small apartment with a tiny galley kitchen that more resembled a sauna by the end of the afternoon. Three contestants cooked three scones each; plain, savoury and sweet.

The judges, our partners and one impartial ring-in, took their tasting very seriously. Scorecards were produced with judging categories including taste, texture, appearance and presentation. That year the Presbyterian Women’s Missionary Union cookbook provided the guidance for the winning scone. It didn’t rise as well as the lemonade scone, but it was light, golden and tasted just like a nanna would make, so it took out the prize.  I came second that year, let down by a batch of burnt bottoms.

Over the years I’ve never won, though one year we got sick of scones and changed it to a Pizza Off and switched contestants. My husband’s pizza won, so I won by proxy (right?!). This year, I was determined to produce a winning scone because a) I now have a food blog, I should be able to cook a scone and b) I now live in the country, I should be able to cook a bloody scone!

Buttermilk Fruit Scones | Simple Provisions

This year we only had to cook one scone, any scone we chose. I put the call out on Facebook for a winning recipe. There were a lot of votes for the lemonade scones, but I knew my friend would be doing those (even though she’s done them every year and never won… She believes in the lemonade). I tried several recipes and ate a lot of scones. I was told to have cold hands, to rub the butter in, to not spin the cutter when cutting, to put the scones in a brownie tray to help them rise and many other tips. They were all great, but I just couldn’t get my technique right. I settled on these buttermilk fruit scones, which have come out perfect every time.

These are not pretty, CWA-approved, blue-ribbon scones. They are rustic, chuck-in-the-oven, crowd-pleasing scones. They are deliciously crunchy on the outside and moist and fluffy on the inside. They are not too sweet, with the only sweetness coming from the dried fruit. One of the judges called them a cross between damper and a scone. I served them with chantilly cream and Jam Lady jam, which obviously wooed the judges, as I came first! Suck it lemonade scones! (Yes, it gets quite competitive).

Mastering a scone recipe means you’ll always have something to serve when friends drop round for afternoon tea, or when you’re having a day that requires scones (warning: these days happen more often when you know how to make good scones).

Do you have a go-to scone recipe? Where do you sit on the lemonade vs. traditional argument?

Buttermilk Fruit Scones | Simple Provisions

Buttermilk Fruit Scones

Makes 10-12 scones (depending on how big you make them)

Recipe from Annabelle White


  • 3 cups self-raising flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 80g very cold (from freezer) butter
  • 1 cup dried fruit (I used sultanas)
  • 1 1/2 – 1 3/4 cups buttermilk (adjust to moist)


Buttermilk Fruit Scones | Simple Provisions

Pre-heat oven to 200c, fan-forced.

Sift flour, salt and baking powder into a large bowl.

Grate the butter into the flour and stir with a knife to distribute within the flour. Don’t touch the mixture with your hands! Add the dried fruit and distribute that with the knife too. Your hands have still not touched the mixture.

Add the buttermilk, starting with 1 1/2 cups, adding more if needed to make the mixture very moist (I find I need the extra 1/4 cup). Fold the buttermilk through the dough with the knife, turning the bowl to help you, aiming for as little mixing as possible, but everything should be well combined. You want quite a wet dough, no dry bits hanging around.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and gently flip and turn it a few times to get it into a rectangle shape. You want the dough quite thick to give your scones some height. Cut the dough into squares (10-12) and place the squares on a baking tray.

Place them in the oven for 10 minutes, check them. They’ll probably need another 5 minutes, depending on your oven. You’re looking for golden brown tops and bottoms.

Serve warm with jam and cream.


Get inspired to make these scones, as I did, by watching this video of Annabelle White, New Zealand Women’s Weekly Food Editor, enthusiastically cooking them. You’ll want to make a batch immediately. 

31 thoughts on “Buttermilk Fruit Scones

  1. Amy says:

    I love scones! My Mum’s in particular and I dearly miss them since I had to go gluten free three years ago. I’m still trying to figure out the perfect way to make gluten free scones.
    I love the idea of a scone-off! What a great and yummy competition to have with your friends. This recipe is sure to win some hearts in my house, thanks for sharing Amelia :)

    1. Amelia says:

      Amy, you should check out The Little Library Cafe’s blog, she posted after you. She has a gluten-free scone recipe!

      1. Wheat-free rather than gluten-free, but yes! They do come out better than I thought they would!

      2. Amy says:

        Thanks Amelia!

  2. These look completely delicious! Buttermilk is absolutely the key – my go to recipe uses it too. Will have to try mine with fruit next time!

    1. Amelia says:

      Your scones look amazing! Look how high they are! I’ve got some work to do on height, more testing required ;)

      1. Thank you. I think it’s all in the minimal stirring and metal spoon. They’re always lovely! Let me know if you give the recipe a try before the next scone-off.

  3. Lucy says:

    Oooh they look absolutely delicious! I’m embarrased to say I’ve never made scones, but I’m almost tempted to give them a go (although in reality the recipe will sit in my folder and probably never get made!!) Lovely pictures as usual :)

    1. Amelia says:

      Lucy! You’re English! The fact that you haven’t made scones will be reported to the Queen.

  4. annmahnet says:

    Yum, these look scrumptious! But I MUST know — what’s a lemonade scone?

    1. Amelia says:

      Lemonade scones use the bubbles from the lemonade to help the dough rise. They usually turn out sky-high, but I find they have a bit of a weird aftertaste. Actually, now that I think about it, you may not have the same sort of lemonade as we do over there Ann? It’s like coke, but clear and vaguely lemon flavoured, mostly just super sweet.

  5. Congratulations on the winning scone recipe this year Amelia – they look delicious! I spent many years fighting a losing battle with scone recipes… so demoralising to not be able to bake a decent scone! Not sure if it is the technique or the recipe, but finally feel like I’ve cracked it and love the scones that come out of the oven these days. No lemonade or cream added. Just a traditional recipe that works… it was the first ever post on my blog when I started out. :)

    1. Amelia says:

      Impressed that you’ve mastered the traditional recipe Margot – it’s not easy!

  6. My go-to recipe used to be Leon D’s, which specified which brand of butter you must use and was almost implausibly runny/sticky. These days I use your Meredith recipe (which is really Lee’s right?), and never use a scone cutter, always just cut into rough squares (seems to give them a higher rise).
    I love scones so much. Maybe I’ll make some right now…
    I would also like to add I think it is morally sound to have butter, jam and cream on the one scone.

    1. Amelia says:

      Of course Leon’s was so specific! And yes, Lee has a natural talent for scones, which is infuriating. He kept saying “Why don’t you just do mine?” (I tried, I stuffed them up). Lee is also of the butter+cream+jam camp, so you two are scone kindred spirits, obviously.

  7. M-R says:

    Your blog is so appealing, Amelia, that it makes me wish I could make everything you post. It’s a really good-looking blog (not to mention its raison d’être), and I speak as one to whom the look is all-important. Well it is, because it must draw your potential readers in without their even realizing …
    So I congratulate you very sincerely, and hope you’ll go on blogging for a very long time …

    1. Amelia says:

      Thank you so much M-R, that is so lovely to hear. I’m glad you want to make everything I post!

  8. margaret21 says:

    I too think that buttermilk makes all the difference to scones, and have only recently understood about using freezing butter too, so with your recipe to hand will make the effort to source said buttermilk. Not always easy here. Am I though, the only person in the world who doesn’t think cream tasteds good with scones? I think I must be.

    1. Amelia says:

      I had a serious discussion last week with someone who likes vegemite on their scones. So I think your no-cream preference is perfectly normal in comparison!

  9. i love scones! and what a fantastic way to involve friends…and tasty too! thanks for sharing, amelia!

    1. Amelia says:

      You’re welcome!

  10. My mum was CWA woman of the year in the seventies so I come from a family that takes our scones very seriously. I’ve gone through a lemonade and whipped cream scone phase and while you can’t beat them for lightness I feel a scone needs a slight heft and flakiness that can only come from rubbing the butter through the flour. So while I might occasionally branch out, my go to recipe is the plain buttermilk scone from Margaret Fulton’s Encyclopedia of food and Cookery. She’s the Queen of traditional Australian baked goods as far as I’m concerned.

    1. Amelia says:

      That is some decent pedigree Elizabeth. No pressure for you to cook good scones or anything! And yes, Margaret is the Queen. I think the CWA should replace any pictures of the actual queen with pictures of Margaret in their meeting rooms.

  11. Bec says:

    Yes for scones. So simple, so delicious.

  12. stateeats says:

    Oh, we don’t have that kind of lemonade here in the U.S but I remember drinking it in London. You could sub Sprite or 7Up. Amelia, these scones look heavenly, I have made similar with dried sour cherries — nice tart contrast. I hope you can get them in the UK.

    1. Amelia says:

      Dried sour cherries sound great! Will look out for them for my next batch.

  13. sarahpulvere says:

    Hi Amelia, I’ve never made scones before but I LOVE them so I’m giving this a go – they’re currently in the oven. I’m an Aussie in the US so did the “self raising flour” conversion, the C to F conversion but wasn’t sure about a fan forced to non-fan forced conversion. Im just basing it on looks at the moment, but do you have any tips? Also congrats on baby #2 & if you speak to Kerrie, let her know I say hi!, please and thank you.

    1. Amelia says:

      Hi Sarah! I hope the scones turned out ok and you got a good dose of home. Fan-forced usually runs about 20c lower than conventional ovens, so if a recipe calls for 180c I put my fan forced to 160c.

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