For Anglophiles

Guest Post: The Great Scone Shape Debate

Get ready for some controversy: a scone shape debate!

Maybe it’s because I grew up in (mostly) the south-east of England, or maybe it’s because most of the hundreds of scones I’ve devoured in my life have been purchased in cafes and tearooms rather than homemade. But I honestly associate British scones with being round, and it’s not until I moved to the United States that I kept seeing triangular or wedge-shaped impostors. In last week’s post, therefore, I cheerfully asserted that Anglo-scones are more likely to be round.

Scone Shape Debate | Pauline Wiles

Not so fast, Ms. Wiles!  I’m thrilled today to welcome Jean from Delightful Repast who has a thing or two to teach me:

Jean, Delightful RepastThe brouhaha I’ve come to think of as The Great Scone Kerfuffle of 2014 began when Melissa at Smitten by Britain posted my 2011 guest post How to Make a Proper Scone on Facebook recently. Apparently, people feel quite strongly about the shape of their scones. Of course, our Pauline’s comments about her own leanings toward round scones were very polite, but some comments were so harsh that Melissa wouldn’t even publish them! That is why I wrote the following paragraph for Melissa to add to the post:

If you prefer round scones, feel free to cut the dough with a round cutter (2-inch maximum). But I nearly always make the more traditional wedge shape. For two reasons: 1) That is the way generations of English women in my family have made scones, and 2) It uses *all* the dough the first time round, so there are no scraps of dough that have to be worked together for a second cutting; those are never quite as pretty or tender as the first rounds cut.

I’ve enjoyed many a round scone and have even made them myself on occasion, but 99 percent of the time I make wedge-shaped scones. I make no claims that the wedge scones are more “authentic” than the round, or that they are more “English” or “British” than the round. I can only say that I’ve been giving afternoon teas and making scones all my life, and I’ve always made scones the way my mother and her mother and her mother’s mother made them since the 1880s or earlier in northwest England.

Scone Shape Debate | Delightful Repast

So read my Tea and Scones  post for my most frequently used scone recipe. If you’re gluten-free, try my Gluten-Free Scones. And then we’ll open another can of worms and discuss pronunciation. Does ‘scone’ rhyme with ‘con’ or with ‘cone’? I pronounced it in the way that rhymes with ‘con’ up until about 20 years ago or more, when I grew tired of being corrected. So now I say it the other way and am corrected by far fewer people!

Now let’s put the kettle on and have a civilised discussion about our differing opinions about scones and any other tea-related matters one might wish to discuss!

Copyright 2014 Jean at

Jean at Delightful Repast is a freelance writer who writes mostly about food, tea, weddings and etiquette for numerous publications. Her blog reflects her English culinary heritage. A lifelong tea aficionado (okay, okay, tea snob), Jean occasionally guest posts on matters of tea.

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35 Comment

  1. Reply
    Bernideen's Tea Time Blog
    March 18, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    What a darling story and sweet scones. I mostly cut mine but really they can come in many shapes!

  2. Reply
    Jean |
    March 18, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    Thank you so much, Bernideen! I knew we could count on you for a balanced view!

  3. Reply
    Helen MacDougall
    March 19, 2014 at 3:40 am

    Like many people in the UK, I was reared on round scones. However I have seen scones which are triangular in shape at school (in Northumberland) & elsewhere but are quite often of the treacle or whole meal variety. As a general rule we teach how to make round scones at the cookery school, but over enthusiastic handlers of the dough quite often don’t get an even rise in one batch. Maybe this is something we should look into!

    1. Reply
      March 19, 2014 at 7:26 am

      Helen, I can absolutely see that Jean’s approach would lessen the risk of dough abuse! I get a bit of a childish kick from cutting out the shapes, so maybe that’s why round scones are popular.

    2. Reply
      Jean |
      March 19, 2014 at 9:05 am

      Helen, I love that–“over enthusiastic handlers of the dough”!

  4. Reply
    Julia Ibbotson
    March 19, 2014 at 5:41 am

    Wooow, another great debate on scones! Round or triangular?Next it’ll be the long-running “which first: jam or cream?” debate! I always cut rounds (long family tradition over many generations) and spread jam then a dollop of cream on top which I am told is the old Cornish way (the reverse is Devon). But I’m gonna try triangle next time: I’m all for the challenge of change! And any way is great by me: scones for the Great British afternoon teatime, yummy. But see my website at or find my fool-proof recipe in The Old Rectory: escape to a country kitchen available on Amazon at

  5. Reply
    Jean |
    March 19, 2014 at 6:49 am

    Julia, thanks for weighing in. In the “which first” debate, I am neutral. Though I always put cream first (as in Devon), it does not bother me when others do it the wrong–er, uh, I mean, *other*–way. 😉

    1. Reply
      Julia Ibbotson
      March 19, 2014 at 7:06 am

      Haha! Thanks Jean. I have to say I find that it’s more practical to spread the jam first, though, as you can’t so easily spread jam on top of the cream (or maybe that’s just my own incompetence!) whereas you can dollop cream on jam … anyway I loved your post – and your pic; lovely teacup, by the way: is it Royal Grafton Elegance bone china, as I have a similar set?

      1. Jean |
        March 19, 2014 at 9:03 am

        Julia, I might be the only one who does this: I only ever put *anything* on my scones at an afternoon tea. For elevenses, I eat them absolutely plain and bare! The teacup (I just looked on the bottom) is Royal Albert ‘Colours’.

    2. Reply
      March 19, 2014 at 7:27 am

      I am an absolute non-conformist on this; I actually prefer scones with just a bit of butter. But that assumes there are sultanas in them…

      1. Julia Ibbotson
        March 19, 2014 at 8:01 am

        Oh yes, Pauline – my husband would agree with you, he loves just sultana scones with butter! And of course he also likes sultana scones with butter, jam and cream too!

  6. Reply
    Little Yellow Teapot
    March 19, 2014 at 11:25 am

    Being a teapot, and a rather short and stout one, I am partial to round scones. However, being a frugal teapot, I like your scheme of using every scrap of scone dough. Whichever way you prefer it, though, make sure your teapot gets a place of honor at the table. We work hard steeping that tasty tea for you humans. TOOOT!

    1. Reply
      March 19, 2014 at 1:15 pm

      I’m rather ashamed that until now, I had not even considered how the teapot might feel about its table companions. 😉

    2. Reply
      Jean |
      March 19, 2014 at 2:42 pm

      One of my most “deserving of honor” teapots is the one I’ve had literally *all* my life. My mother and grandmother shopped for it for the occasion of my birth. 🙂

  7. Reply
    Devin Smith
    March 19, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    Jean, such a lovely post about a topic I was just debating two weeks ago when making scones!! I think I lean towards the triangular shape just because by cutting triangles in half, I feel like I can get a larger amount of clotted cream and jam per square inch of scone. Overindulgent? Definitely. However, I am not ashamed to say that I will take a quality scone with clotted cream and jam however I can get it 🙂

  8. Reply
    Jean |
    March 19, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    Thanks, Devin! Isn’t teatime simply the best time to be “overindulgent”?! Even when it’s not at the likes of Woburn Abbey!

  9. Reply
    March 20, 2014 at 8:51 am

    I will probably sound blasphemous here, but can I have my scones without raisins? Is it really bad? Can’t stand them.

    As a child, every Christmas, my poor mum had to bake a special panettone just for me, without raisins.

    1. Reply
      Pauline Wiles
      March 20, 2014 at 8:56 am

      Martina, I’ll eat any wayward scones with dark bits in for you.
      Jean: any comment on raisins versus sultanas? That could perhaps be our next debate!! Me, I’m a sultana fan.

      1. Martina
        March 20, 2014 at 9:04 am

        That’s the thing: when I go to my favourite tearoom and order the scones, I have to pick all the bits with raisins and leave them on the plate. My four-year old manages to make less of a mess. I get funny looks from the waitresses when they clear the table, but what’s one supposed to do?

      2. Jean |
        March 20, 2014 at 9:28 am

        I often use currants, which *are* rather raisiny, but I sometimes use other dried fruits–blueberries, cranberries, cherries–would that work for you, Martina, or are all dried fruit bits out?

        But it is perfectly fine to leave out the fruit. Sometimes I have them completely plain, though more often I would at least put in a bit of citrus zest (more discussion here

  10. Reply
    Tony Grant
    March 23, 2014 at 11:52 am

    Come on Jean, triangular scones do not exist.
    My mother made scones; they were round. My friends mums made scones; they were round. My wife makes scones; they are round. Even the supermarket type are round. As for Welsh scones, they are round. If you buy scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam as part of a cream tea when you visit Devon or Cornwall, the scones are round. If I saw something triangular in shape I wouldn’t think it was a scone. Where did this idea about triangular scones come from?

    All the best,

    1. Reply
      March 23, 2014 at 12:09 pm

      Tony, roughly where in the UK did you grow up or did your mum originate from? I’m developing a theory that scone shape might possibly be regional…

  11. Reply
    Tony Grant
    March 23, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    A recipe for scones on the BBC website. The scones are round!!!

    PS I think we all need a cream tea, with round scones, sitting on the harbour side in Mousehole, followed by a pint of beer in the pub across the way. What do you think?


    1. Reply
      March 23, 2014 at 12:10 pm

      Ah, Tony, you’re making me hungry. I might skip the beer in favour of an extra scone or maybe a dainty sandwich, if that’s OK?

  12. Reply
    Tony Grant
    March 23, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    Pauline, I come from Southampton on the south coast. I now live in Wimbledon, in South London. Its OK, Jean and I know each other. She won’t mind me arguing with her.

    1. Reply
      March 23, 2014 at 5:12 pm


      1. Jean |
        March 24, 2014 at 8:05 am

        It’s true, Pauline, he just likes to irritate me! 😀 Tony, perhaps in the North, where my family were, they made the triangular. My family certainly did!

  13. Reply
    Tony Grant
    March 24, 2014 at 10:14 am

    Jean, I absolutely believe you.
    I think your grandma wanted to be different from the neighbours and started getting creative.
    Once in a while you get a rebel in the family!!!!
    Have a great day,

    PS But wouldn’t it be nice to just sit at a table overlooking a Cornish harbour gorging ourselves on scones, clotted cream and strawberry jam with a cup of tea to wash it down.
    A good local beer wouldn’t go amiss either.Must get some of us together one day and do that.

  14. Reply
    Tony Grant
    March 24, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Jean keep pronouncing ,”scone,” with the ,”con,”sound. To use the ,”cone,” sound it denotes you are upper middle class or even, banish the thought, an aristocrat. The Queen pronounces it with , the “cone,” sound.
    Jean, c’mon nahh lass, remember yer northern roots.

    1. Reply
      Jean |
      March 24, 2014 at 5:19 pm

      Okay, Tony, I shall! And oh my that table overlooking a Cornish harbour sounds delightful!

  15. Reply
    April 2, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    My favorite scones are those that have been made by someone else. 🙂 When I make scones I cut them in triangles because I am lazy. It is so much easier to make one large circle and then use a Pizza cutter to quickly divide it into 8 scones. However from this point forward, I am going to tell people I make them in triangles because it is more efficient and avoids waste. I love being able to put a noble spin on my laziness.

    1. Reply
      Jean |
      April 3, 2014 at 6:41 am

      Alea, thank you for my first big laugh of the day! A “noble spin on [your] laziness” indeed!

    2. Reply
      April 6, 2014 at 6:59 pm

      Alea, they’re my favorite kind, too.

  16. Reply
    Jean |
    May 10, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    Pauline, I’m still on my marmalade kick (this time I made kumquat). I know some people put it on scones, but I prefer it on toast. Only red jam (or lemon curd) and cream on my scones, please!

    1. Reply
      Pauline Wiles
      May 11, 2014 at 9:17 am

      Jean, strangely, I’ve never been a big marmalade fan, but I totally agree with you: it does belong on toast rather than scones.

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