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James Martin's scones are made from only five basic ingredients and take approx 12 minutes to bake. It is a super easy recipe for traditional English scones that doesn't disappoint.
10 - 12 pcs
Scones are the epitome of traditional British food. They are super popular all around the UK, and you will very likely find them in every coffee shop you visit. Scones that are served for English afternoon tea are always accompanied by jam and indulgent clotted cream.
Even though scones are most of the time sweet, they belong under the bread category. They are definitely heavier and blander with less sugar than cakes.
Nevertheless, many chefs like to enrich scones with additional ingredients like eggs, cream, and more sugar to enhance their flavour.
It makes them richer, but you can easily make excellent scones from only five simple components - flour, butter, milk, sugar and a leavening agent. James Martin's scones are a perfect example of a simple traditional recipe.
James Martin Scones
The James Martin's scone recipe from Good Morning Britain that I found on the ITV website looks like the perfect authentic recipe I was looking for - with easy instructions and basic ingredients (no eggs).
However, easy instructions and a handful of ingredients do not always guarantee the best result; see my other post where I tested Paul Hollywood's scones. That's why I was curious to try James Martin's recipe to see how it performs.
Note: At the time of writing, there were two of James Martin's scone recipes on the ITV website. The only difference between them was how much baking powder the two recipes asked for - one asked for 5 teaspoons and the other 2 teaspoons for the same amount of flour.
I'm testing the recipe with 5 teaspoons of baking powder as it seems to be more accurate for the 450g of flour.
What happened when we tried it?
I'm happy to confirm that the recipe was a breeze to make. Here is why I like it:
- simple ingredients, staples in most kitchens
- no eggs
- easy steps
- baked in 12 minutes
- scones were well risen and uniform
- soft with a light texture
- literally, melt in the mouth
📃 James Martin Ingredients Overview
- 450g strong flour
- 50g caster sugar
- 5 tsp baking powder
- 100g butter
- pinch salt
- 300 ml full-fat milk
- 1 egg yolk (for egg wash)
📷 How to Make James Martin Scones in Pictures
Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan, and line the tray with baking paper.
Mix the flour, baking powder and sugar in a big bowl.
Rub the cubed butter into the flour with your fingers until you have a fine bread-crumb consistency.
Pour ⅔ (a little more than half) of the milk into the flour mix and gently start combining. Keep adding the rest of the milk in individual steps to prevent the dough from becoming too wet.
Note: Different flours absorb different amounts of liquid. I usually don't need to use all the recommended milk.
Tip the dough onto a floured surface, dust some flour over the top, and give it a few more gentle folds. Don't work with the dough too much, and don't knead it; it makes the scones tougher.
Roll the dough into a 2 cm thick roundish shape.
Tip: You can use your hands to pat the dough to the desired thickness.
Cut out the scones with a round cutter approx 7 cm in diameter, and place them onto a baking tray.
Optional: You can rest the scones for around 15 minutes in the fridge before baking to encourage a better even rise.
Give each scone an egg wash (just the top, not the sides).
Bake for 10 - 12 minutes or until the scones have risen and their top is golden brown.
Scones taste the best freshly baked and served with strawberry jam and clotted cream.
🔍 Experiments with James Martin's Scone Recipe
I'm always tempted to experiment with recipes to answer my questions about the ingredients, specific steps or other technical factors. James Martin's recipe wasn't different. I decided to try a couple of tests:
- Is it possible to make good scones without eggs? How do eggs affect the scones' taste and texture?
- Does resting the scones before baking helps with their rise?
🥚 Can Scones be Made without Eggs?
Whether eggs belong to scones is a topic as sensitive as the one that divides the nation - what goes first - jam or cream. Many well-known English chefs add them to their recipes, but can scones be made without them?
A short answer is yes, and James Martin's recipe is a good example. Another question is how much does the egg in the dough affect the scone texture, taste and appearance?
To find out, I altered James Martin's recipe by adding two eggs and reducing the amount of milk from 300 to 180 ml - deducting the weight of the eggs (120ml).
Scones with eggs:
- more yellow tint
- the horizontal split was much deeper and more prominent
- texture little bit tougher
- spread side-ways a bit more
- pale in colour
- less dominant crack
- the scone pretty much melts in the mouth
- don't spread side-ways
Conclusion: Scones can be made without eggs. Eggs in the dough may give scones a richer taste, but they don't make scones' texture lighter or softer. On the contrary, we enjoyed the egg-less scones more as they felt more delicate, and they literary melted in the mouth. (For me an interesting baking discovery.)
⏰ Resting the Scones before Baking
In Good Morning Britain, James Martin recommended resting the scones before baking (It’s not in the written instructions, but he talks about it in the video). It wasn't the first time I heard this advice, so I decided to test how the resting affects the scones' rise and appearance.
- rose more - they weren't much taller, but they were bigger in general
- somewhat looked more round and bulging
- I didn't notice any difference in the texture
Conclusion: If you have time and space in the fridge, rest the scones before baking. However, if you rush or struggle with the room, bake the scones straight away; they will still look great.
James Martin Scones Overview
There is nothing not to like about James Martin’s scone recipe. His scones have a good rise and traditional look - some slightly tilted to one side with a horizontal split along the edge.
I was surprised to find out that we prefer egg-less scones - they had a more delicate texture and held their shape better.
In addition, this recipe is quick. I especially appreciate that it takes only around 35 minutes from start to finish to make these scones.
James Martin's scone recipe is for sure a keeper.
If you want to try something new, you can give a go to my own foolproof scone recipe, that I created based on all the learnings and discoveries I've made during my scone experiments. The recipe is partially inspired by James Martin's eggless scones and Jamie Oliver scones, and it's using methods that have worked best for me.
James Martin Scone Recipe
- 450 g strong flour alternative: plain flour
- 50 g caster sugar
- 5 tsp baking powder
- 100 g butter cold and diced
- pinch salt
- 300 ml full-fat milk
- 1 yolk beaten, for egg-wash
- large mixing bowl
- 7 cm round cutter
- baking tray
- baking paper
- Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan, and line the tray with baking paper.
- Mix the flour, baking powder and sugar in a big bowl.
- Add the cubed butter, and with your fingers, rub it into the flour until you have a fine bread-crumb consistency.
- Pour ⅔ (a little more than half) of the milk into the flour mix and gently start combining. Keep adding the rest of the milk in individual steps not to make the dough too wet.Note: Different flour absorbs different amounts of liquid. I usually don't need to use all the recommended milk.
- Tip the dough onto a floured surface, dust some flour over the top, and give it a few more gentle folds. Don't work with the dough too much; it makes the scones' tougher.
- Roll the dough into a 2 cm thick roundish shape.Tip: You can use your hands to pat the dough to the desired thickness.
- Cut out the scones with a round cutter approx 7 cm in diameter, and place them onto a baking tray.
- Give each scone an egg wash (just the top, not the sides).Optional: You can rest the scones for around 15 minutes in the fridge before baking to encourage a better even rise.
- Bake for 10 - 12 minutes or until the scones have risen and their top is golden brown.
- Scones taste the best freshly baked and served with strawberry jam and clotted cream.