What is the difference between a British scone and an American scone?

Different shapes, different flavors, different textures, scones are two widely different things on either of the Atlantic. England and America may have that ‘special relationship’ but when it comes to scones they are as different as chalk and cheese, and as different as Julia Child and Paula Dean.

The buttery, rich dense American scone is a very dissimilar from the fluffy, delicate and more refined British scone. Both are equally delicious and there is certainly a time and a place for each version.

British scones:
English SconeA quintessential part of Afternoon tea, a proper British scone is round, tall, and has an extremely light texture with a crust like exterior. They are not as sweet or as rich as an American scone, and generally they are a lot smaller.

They require a very light touch, it is vital the mixture is handled as little as possible otherwise they can become tough. Scones frequently include sultanas in the mixture or can be plain – both are just as good.

Found in teashops around the country scones are considered a teatime ritual in England, and a key component of a cream tea. The traditional way to eat one is to split the scone in half, thickly spread each half with clotted cream and top with strawberry jam.

For generations there has been an ongoing debate as to how ‘scone’ should be pronounced – this is dependent on what part of the country you live in, and apparently what class you are from. This little poem will help:

‘I asked the maid in a dulcet tone
To order me a buttered scone;
The silly girl has been and gone
And ordered me a buttered scone’.

No matter how you pronounce it, a good scone is something to look forward to. They taste even better served with copious amounts of clotted cream, consumed on a sunny day while relaxing in the garden.

American scones:
US SconeA staple of most coffee shops, the American scone is frequently large and triangular shaped with a rustic, craggy exterior. Compared to an English scone it is more buttery and contains fruit in the center such as blueberries, raspberries and topped with a sprinkling of sugar.

I have never seen an American scone served with jam and clotted cream, which is probably a good thing as it would not be a combination that would work too well.

Until you have tried a proper British scone it is very hard to imagine the difference between the two baked items. The table below explains all.

If you would like to have a go at making a traditional English Fruit Scone, click here for one of my favorite recipes.

Scone vs. scone:

The American

1 ½ cups, chilled

BUTTER The British

½ cup, chilled

1 tbsp baking powder LEAVENER 2 tbsp baking powder
The more the merrier ADDED FRUIT a handful of sultanas or raisins
Egg wash and coarse sugar TOPPING Light milk and egg wash

Make mine a shandy!

After sharing the history and recipe for England’s second favorite drink – Pimms No. 1 – my thoughts turned to another classic English tipple that goes down well in the summer – shandy.

Shandy recently arrived in America in bottles and cans, but it’s just not the same as the shandy you would find in an English pub.

pub 2

Shandy is very simple to make, basically it is beer mixed with lemonade. Sounds simple doesn’t it, and it is, but what seems to have happened to the shandy in America is that on hearing the word ‘lemonade’ it was thought that it must be the type of lemonade found in America – a cloudy dink made with water, lemons and sugar.

However, lemonade in England is a very different thing indeed and is a clear carbonated soft drink such as sprite and 7-Up.

As you can imagine mixing these two different types of lemonade with beer can give vastly different results, which is why the shandy you find in the US, in my experience, isn’t real shandy, it is a rather odd overly sweet concoction.

And while the English are constantly laughed at for the warm beer (along with having bad teeth and awful food) there is nothing more refreshing as a nice glass of shandy on a summer’s evening.


Recipe for shandy:

  1. Take a pint-sized glass, a 16oz glass or 22oz glass will do just fine.
  1. Pour two parts cold Beer and then add one part English style lemonade (Sprite or 7 Up). DO NOT use American style lemonade, this is not a good combination!

If you are looking for a stronger taste I would suggest using either Heineken or Stella Artois, or if it is something lighter you are looking for Budweiser or Labatt Blue work very well.

  1. You are done, find a comfortable spot to sit and enjoy!

Of course, you can always ask for a shandy in a bar. I continue to do this and while the server looks at me strangely at first they are normally very happy to bring one over.

*Shandy contains alcohol

Anyone for Pimm’s?

Okay, so this is a blog about baking, but Pimm’s No. 1 is as English as roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, scones with jam and cream or a classic Victoria sponge, so I thought it was certainly worth talking about. And with summer coming I couldn’t resist sharing some history and the recipe for this perfect summer drink.

Pimm’s No1 Cup is so popular in England it is often thought of as the nations second favorite drink with the favorite being tea. It is the official drink of Wimbledon, the Chelsea flower show, a favorite at many village cricket events and something many people enjoy while soaking up the sun in their back garden (on the occasional days when its not raining that is).


What is Pimm’s?
Pimm’s No. 1 Cup is an alcoholic drink. It has a dark-tea color, with a red tint and a subtle taste of spice and citrus fruit. It is often served with English style lemonade (think Sprite or 7 up) along with chopped fresh ingredients including apples, cucumber, oranges, lemons, strawberry and sprigs of mint. Pimm’s can also be mixed with Champagne, called a “Pimm’s Royal Cup”.

PimmsHistory of Pimm’s
Pimm’s originated at an Oyster Bar in the City of London in 1840. James Pimm owned the bar, and he created the Pimm’s ‘house cup’, serving it in a small tankard known as a “no. 1 Cup”, hence the name. It was originally a gin based drink and contained a mixture of liqueurs and fruit extracts.

James Pimm began to build a chain of bars and restaurants across the city of London, and they soon became a favorite place for businessmen to relax at the end of a long day.

By 1851 Pimm’s began producing the drink on a large scale and sold it to other bars in the city. In 1865 the company was sold to Frederick Sawyer, and sold again in 1880 to the future Lord Mayor of London Horation Davies. Sales of the drink expanded rapidly and it became available throughout the British Empire, gaining a reputation for ‘all things British’.

It first became available at Wimbledon in 1971, and every year over 80,000 pints (Pimm’s and lemonade) are sold to spectators at the event.

Pimm’s No. 1 is extremely quick and easy to prepare, and the recipe below shows you how to make the perfect Pimm’s No 1 Cup in three very easy steps –

Recipe for traditional Pimm’s No. 1:

1. Take a jug (if you want to make several glasses) or a glass and add as much ice as you like.

2. Pour one part Pimm’s No. 1 with three parts English style lemonade (Sprite or 7 Up) over ice

3. Add a selection of mint leaves, thin cucumber slices, orange slices and strawberries (depending on what you prefer) and serve in a long tall glass.

Then sit back, relax and enjoy the taste of summer!

*Pimm’s contains alcohol

What are fairy cakes?

Who couldn’t love fairy cakes? These cute little sponge cakes are a smaller version of a cupcake – they are in essence the dainty version of their American cupcake cousins.

The cakes are very popular in England and are traditionally made using a lighter sponge (think the texture and ingredients’ of pound cake) as opposed to the thicker batter used in cupcakes. They are half the size with a lot less decoration, just as cute, and it is safe to say, it is the sponge that is the star, not the ‘frosting’.

Fairy cakes are perfect for parties, and are easy to make. Just keep the sponge nice and light, and the decoration simple – they never fail to make people smile.

Click here for the full recipe


What are rock cakes?

The humble rock cake, it doesn’t sound like the most appetizing thing in the world to eat, but trust me, they are a very nice teatime treat, and a popular component of the traditional high tea.

Rock cakes originated from Great Britain, where they are still found on the table at teatime in many homes in England. Rock Cakes are also known as Rock Buns, depending on where in the UK you live. The Ministry of Food promoted them during World War Two, due to the fact they required fewer eggs and less sugar than many cakes, which made them very easy to make during the period of rationing.

These light and crumbly teatime favorites are very easy to make and are best enjoyed warm from the oven. I can certainly recommend them, and they are fun for children to make too.

Click here for the full recipe

Rock cakes

Recipe – Ginger nuts

The humble ginger nut – one England’s favorite biscuits’, and the biscuit with probably the least attractive and appetizing name.

The ginger nut is a staple of most homes in England and was listed as the tenth most popular biscuit in the UK to “dunk” in tea.

It is a close relative of the ginger biscuit and ginger snap, and is typically flavored with powdered ginger and a variety of other spices, including cinnamon and molasses. The many varieties can be found across the world. In the UK, Australia and New Zealand they are called ginger nuts. In Scandinavia ginger nuts are also called ginger bread or “brunkage” in Danish, which literally mean “brown biscuits”. While in the United States, they can be compared to ginger snaps.

Each recipe (there are many) and each country offers the biscuit with varying amounts of ginger and other spices, which gives them an individual international flavor.

The recipe below is typically English; it contains a nice amount of ginger, golden syrup and offers a wonderful crunchiness and snap as you break one in half.

Click here for the Full Recipe


Recipe – Irish cream and chocolate cheesecake

English Cheesecake is slightly different from the classic New York Cheesecake in that it is not baked and the base is made from Digestive biscuits. This celebration cheesecake features smooth cream cheese, chocolate, and the wonderful creamy Irish cream liqueur – Baileys. Go on spoil yourself and your guests.

Click here for the Full Recipe