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Lemon Poppy Seed Scones

After the long nights of winter, it is always wonderful to see the sunshine come back. That sunshine may be in the sky, or it may be in the form of citrus fruits that again fill the grocery stores. Mandarins, oranges, limes, and for today- Lemons! And scones are a wonderful, easy way to enjoy all that lemon goodness.

These scones are packed with lemon flavor. And poppy seed goes wonderfully with lemon. But if you prefer, feel free to leave the poppy seed out and just indulge in that wonderful lemon flavor.


When both volumetric and weight measures are provided, the volumetric measures should be considered approximations. The standard measure for a cup of sugar is 192 grams. By volume, this measure will be less than 1 cup.

When putting scone dough on a baking sheet, line the baking sheet with parchment paper. If using a scone pan, spray the pan with a non-stick cooking spray, then line the bottom of the scone sections with triangles of parchment paper.

I have a huge zest for scones! Lemon zest packs an amazing lemon flavor. When zesting, be sure to get only the yellow peel and not the white pith. The pith is very bitter and can easily spoil the flavor of the scones if too much is added. Also, the zest should be finely minced to prevent the scone from becoming crumbly due to large pieces of zest. If necessary, place the lemon zest on a cutting board and mince until fine.

Oh, and remember to scrub your lemons clean, rinse, and let soak for 7 seconds in a 1 teaspoon bleach to 1/2 gallon of water solution to sanitize. This should be done with all fruit in which the peel, that may be, and often is, riddled with bacteria, is eaten or used in food.

the finer the zest, the better.

Both lemon juice and lemon extract are used in these scones, along with ½ & ½ milk. As tempting as it may be to use more lemon juice and less ½ & ½, the juice and milk balance is important to prevent crumbling. Lemon juice is very acidic. High acidity can cause baked goods to become crumbly. Fortunately, dairy products help the butter and flour to hold together. If an even stronger lemon flavor is desired (one that will knock the socks off your lemon lovers), place 1/2 c. of lemon juice in a small saucepan and simmer until the juice is reduced by half. DO NOT BOIL THE LEMON JUICE! It may take 30 minutes, but if you can’t get enough lemon, this will bring the lemon flavor over the top.

Chill out! Butter needs to be very cold when making scones. Part of the scone’s rise is due to the steam that is generated as the butter melts. Place the butter in the freezer for 15 minutes before using. Then grate the very cold butter before adding it to the flour mix, using either the grating tool of a food processor or a hand grater. If the grated butter is not used immediately, return it to the refrigerator. The colder the butter, the better the rise.

Make ahead: You can grate the butter and store it in the refrigerator in a covered container to use when needed.

Grated Butter.

Cream of tartar and baking soda can be combined in a 2-to-1 ratio to substitute for baking powder. I have chosen to do so in this recipe because I know people who are allergic to corn, and thus cornstarch. Cornstarch is typically included in baking powder to keep the other ingredients dry and from becoming active. However, cream of tartar and baking soda, when combined, need to be used right away.

Don’t rub me the wrong way!

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, cream of tartar, baking soda, and lemon zest in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for 2-3 seconds until all dry ingredients are evenly distributed. This helps to ensure an even rise. Add the grated butter and pulse 3-4 times for 2 seconds each time. Then add the poppy seeds and pulse for an additional 2-3 seconds. Pour the flour mix into a bowl and make a well in the middle of the flour mix.

If you prefer, the butter and flour mix can be combined in a large bowl using only one’s fingertips. Never mix with the palms of your hands- your fingertips are cooler whereas your palms are warmer and will cause the butter to melt. The goal is to rub the butter into the flour mix so that the butter is the size of very small peas. This ensures a uniform rise as the butter melts and turns to steam during baking. Again, make a well in the middle of the flour mix.

Have you every wondered WHY the butter and flour need to be rubbed together? The butter will coat the flour granules in fat so that the flour granules soak up less moisture. Scones use very little moisture compared to muffins and cakes. If the flour granules soak up too much moisture, leaving too little free moisture, the scones will taste very dry.

Since the goal is to rub the butter into the flour, the poppy seeds will be added after the flour and butter have been combined. When the flour mix looks coarse, add the poppy seeds and pulse for an additional 2-3 seconds. Pour the flour mix into a bowl and make a well in the middle of the flour mix.

Make a well in the flour mix.

Crack eggs into a small bowl and whisk before combining with the other liquids. That way, it is easy to remove any bits of eggshell or bloody eggs. Whisk together the eggs with the remaining wet ingredients. Immediately pour the egg and milk mixture into the well in the flour mix before the honey separates. This ensures that flour in the bottom of the bowl becomes wet and moisture is distributed evenly throughout the dough. Use a spatula to combine the dry and wet ingredients.

If you are using a scone pan, use a food scale and measure the dough into the prepared scone pan. I typically make 4 ounce scones. If possible, fill every other well in the scone pan to allow maximum heat distribution around each scone.

If using a baking sheet, place the dough on the baking sheet and pat the dough into a circle. the dough should be 1″ thick. Cut the dough into 8 equal parts and separate slightly; separation enables heat to reach more surfaces of the scone, enabling a better rise.

As you can see, the scones rise beautifully.

Once scones have finished baking, let them cool for 15 minutes, then remove them from the scone pan or baking sheet and place them on a cooling rack. This prevents the scones from sticking to the pan and prevents condensation within the pan.

Scones are wonderful while warm with a pat of butter or lemon jelly or raspberry jam. However, if icing is desired, let the scones cool completely. Then place a sheet of waxed paper under the cooling tray to catch any icing that drips off the scones and spoon prepared icing on top of scones. And then, ENJOY!

They taste even better than they look!


Lemon Poppy Seed Scones

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  • For the Scone:
  • 300 g./ 2 ½ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 92 g./ ½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 18 g./ 2 T. Poppy Seeds
  • 12 g./ 2 T. Finely Grated Lemon Zest
  • 1 ½ t. Cream of Tartar
  • ¾ t. Baking Soda
  • ¼ t. Salt
  • 140 g./ 10 T. Cold, Unsalted Butter, grated
  • 50 g./ 1 Large Egg
  • 57.5 g./ ¼ c. Fresh Lemon Juice with Pulp (Approximately 2 Lemons)
  • 105 g./ 7 T. ½ & ½
  • 42 g./ 2 T. Honey
  • 12 g./ 1 T. Lemon Extract
  • Canola Oil Cooking Spray
  • For the Glaze (opt.):
  • 120 g./ 1 c. Powdered Sugar
  • 43 g./ 3 T. Fresh Lemon Juice





Preheat oven to 400 degrees.


Spray a scone pan with non-stick cooking spray and line the bottom of the scone pan with parchment paper triangles.


In the bowl of a food processor, whisk together the flour, sugar, poppy seeds, lemon zest, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.


Add the butter to the food processor and use quick pulses to rub the butter into the flour until the butter/ flour mix looks like coarse grain.


Remove the flour mix from the food processor and pour into a large bowl; make a well in the middle of the flour mix.


In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, lemon juice, ½ & ½, honey, and lemon extract. Immediately pour into the well in the flour mix; fold together until just combined.


On a lightly floured surface, gently fold dough over 5-6 times.


Weigh out 113 g./ 4 ounces of dough for each scone and place in the prepared scone pan. Gently fold together the scraps of dough and repeat until all of the dough has been used.


Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until scones are lightly browned, and an instant read thermometer registers 110 degrees.


Remove from oven and place scone pan on a cooling rack for 10-15 minutes to become firm.


Remove scones from the pan and place directly onto the cooling rack. Eat warm, or cool completely and top with the Lemon Glaze.


To Make the Glaze:


Place a sheet of waxed paper under the cooling rack.


In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice; mix until smooth.


Spoon approximately 1 ½ T. of glaze onto each scone, letting the glaze drip off the sides of the scone onto the waxed paper. Let frosting set.


Store at room temperature in an air-tight container, or wrap scones individually and freeze until ready to enjoy.


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