Mother’s Day Treat: Afternoon Tea and Scones

May 7, 2009 Updated: May 6, 2009

On Mother's Day, get out the special dishes to serve afternoon tea and scones to Mom. (Sandra Shields)
On Mother's Day, get out the special dishes to serve afternoon tea and scones to Mom. (Sandra Shields)
This Mother’s Day, why not treat mom to a lovely afternoon of fresh, melt-in-your-mouth scones accompanied by her favourite tea. Both scones and afternoon tea have a long history.

The scone originated in a Scottish village called Scone between 1505 and 1575. The name is thought to have come from the Stone of Destiny (or Scone), where Scottish kings were crowned. Triangular in shape, scones in those days were made with oats and baked on a griddle.

The ritual of afternoon tea began in 19th century England around 1830 when Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, asked for tea and light refreshments in her room one afternoon. She enjoyed it so much she started inviting friends to subsequent afternoon teas. Before long, the ritual became popular throughout the drawing rooms of England.

The pairing of tea and scones has become a tradition in North America, where scones are usually served with preserves and whipped cream.

Lemon currant scones

Makes 6 scones


500 ml (2 cups) all-purpose flour
50 ml (1/4 cup) white sugar
10 ml (2 tsp) baking powder
5 ml (1 tsp) grated lemon rind
Pinch of salt
75 ml (1/3 cup) cold unsalted butter
50 ml (1/4 cup) currants or raisins
2 eggs lightly beaten
125 ml (1/2 cup) heavy cream

Egg wash for tops of scones:

1 egg lightly beaten
15 ml (1 tbsp) cream or milk

Preheat oven to 190º C (375º F). Move oven rack to middle of oven. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon rind, and salt. Cut butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives until the size of coarse crumbs; add currants or raisins.

Lightly beat eggs, add cream, and stir into flour mixture with a fork until just combined. Do not over-mix. Let the dough rest for a few minutes before rolling out.

Roll dough into a round circle approximately 2.5-cm (1-inch) thick. Cut circle in half and then divide each half into three triangular sections. Or use a 6-cm (2 ½-inch) cookie cutter.

Mix egg with cream and brush on top of scones to help brown during baking. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes on a parchment-lined cookie sheet until a golden brown. Cool on rack.

Serve with butter, preserves, and whipped cream.

TIP: It is important that the butter is cold. This gives the scone a wonderful delicate and flaky texture. The dough should not be over-handled, otherwise it will be tough.