The Great Scone Controversy

Kaitlyn here. I’m not really on a food kick, even though my last post was on whoopie pies, but once again it’s something to eat that is the subject of the day. Although I mention scones in the first book in the Liss MacCrimmon Scottish-American Heritage Mystery Series (Kilt Dead), they didn’t play a major role until #2, Scone Cold Dead. This prompted a good many people to email me.

A reader in the U.K. wrote to tell me that I “describe scones as flaky pastry confections and the illustration on the cover definitely makes the cakes presented look very flaky but scones aren’t flaky here in the UK; they may be light textured when made well but, even when made well, they’re too solid to be flaky. They’re something between a sponge and bread and more towards the bread end of the spectrum. Is this a US/UK thing or am I misunderstanding you?” I replied, saying that the scones I’d sampled here in Maine, although mostly of the box-mix variety, have been buttery and light, and flaky in the sense of crumbling easily, like buttermilk biscuits. I have to admit that I’m no expert. Nor am I very good at baking things. My scones most closely resemble rocks. I suspect, however, there are as many varieties of scone as there are bakers and that whatever type folks in an area are used to are what they think of when they describe scones.

A Canadian reader emailed to say that in her part of Canada scones are more like dropped (as opposed to rolled and cut) baking powder biscuits and not as flaky as they appear to be on the cover of Scone Cold Dead. Another reader, self-described as “a native born Scot” points out that in Scotland the word “scone” is pronounced to rhyme with “don” rather than “own.” True, but my books are set in Maine, and here we (mis-)prounounce it so that scone rhymes with stone and the title makes sense (more or less).

Interestingly, I recently heard a chef on a show on the cooking channel, an American, obviously, describe scones as “flaky” and also pronounce the word to rhyme with stone. He was making, believe it or not, “chili scones.”

Then again, perhaps that’s not so strange. Another of my readers wrote to tell me that the deadly “cocktail scones” I invented for my story might not taste so bad, after all:  “I am an adventuresome cook,” she wrote, “who visualizes completed recipes in my head, after tweaking them. Savory scones are not as far-fetched as you might think. I minced up some teriyaki mushrooms, onions, and bok choy that I had on hand, added some fire-roasted red peppers, and used that as a filling for one of my favorite scone recipes. They would make a hearty lunch with a salad or part of an hors d’oeuvre course for an open house if made on the smaller side. Sweetness could be cut back by cutting the sugar in half.”

If you have a scone story or recipe you’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you.

This entry was posted in Kaitlyn's Posts and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Great Scone Controversy

  1. MCWriTers says:

    My husband hates them. I love them. Love shortbread, too. Maybe that dry buttery crumbly thing is just a matter of taste. There’s a farmstand in Concord, Massachusetts that makes about ten varieties of scones (I also rhyme them with stones) and I have to be very careful when I go in there to stay away from the bakery area. Otherwise it will be raspberry-white chocolate, in a bag in my lap as I am driving away, scattering crumbs everywhere. Which is why mice could live for a very long time in my car, and why I am less than sartorially splendid.

    Where are the recipes?


  2. Lea Wait says:

    My grandmother, who was a “born Scot” (although sometimes her version — never to be verified – was that she was born on the ship coming over) made lemon scones. American pronunciation. And always served with tea. But the best scones I’ve ever had were at “high tea” in the hotel I stayed at in Edinburgh, where, of course, they were served with clotted cream and strawberry jam. (Clotted cream, always so exotic sounding in books, is actually whipped cream. But put it on a scone, with jam …. Heaven!)

Leave a Reply