These are proper drop scones, the sort I grew up eating in the north of England. Lovely and light with a soft texture, these drop scones are made in minutes with only 4 ingredients.
It was always a happy day when I got home from school to find my mum was making drop scones for tea! And my mum would say 'I've made too many, go and ask Eileen if she wants to come for tea'. Eileen was my best friend who lived across the road, and when drop scones were on offer she didn't need asking twice!
We'd lay the table with butter and strawberry jam and then stand waiting patiently by the stove with our plates until the first drop scones were ready. Then it was back and forth between the table (to spread on the butter and jam) and the stove (to get another one) until we couldn't eat another mouthful.
What are drop scones?
Drop scones originated in Scotland, where they are called griddle scones (because they were cooked on a griddle). As the recipe made its way further south into England, the name changed to drop scones (or dropping scones) because the batter was dropped into a hot frying pan.
Contrary to what you might think from the name, drop scones bear no resemblance to proper scones. Scones are made from dough and are baked in the oven, while drop scones are made from batter and are cooked in a frying pan. The closest thing to drop scones would be pancakes or crepes, although the batter for pancakes is somewhat thinner than the batter for drop scones.
The best way (in my opinion) to eat drop scones is fresh out of the pan, spread with butter while they are still warm and then topped with a dollop of strawberry jam. It's all a matter of preference though - you may prefer to spread them with syrup or even Nutella.
These traditional British drop scones are very similar to American pancakes, and even though on this side of the pond we like to eat them spread with butter and jam, I'm reliably informed that they go very well with maple syrup and bacon.
Let's get on with making them, and you can decide for yourself!
What you will need
You might optionally want to use a fish slice to turn the drop scones in the frying pan, but you could use a spatula or even a butter knife.
This recipe will make approximately 2 dozen drop scones depending on how large you make them.
- flour - please use self-raising flour if you have it. Otherwise, add one teaspoon of baking powder for every cup of plain all-purpose flour. These drop scones will be hard and dense without a leavening agent.
- sugar - these drop scones should have a sweet taste, but not too much to be overpowering. I use white granulated sugar, but caster sugar will be fine too. If you prefer a sweeter drop scone you can add a little extra sugar - it won't spoil the recipe.
- eggs - the number of eggs will depend on how big the eggs are. If you have large eggs you can use 2; if your eggs are on the smaller size then use 3.
- milk - full-fat or semi-skimmed - it doesn't make any difference.
- salt - this is optional - I like to add half a teaspoon to the mix.
- oil - this should be a neutral-flavoured vegetable oil such as sunflower. It is used for frying the drop scones. You won't need much - a teaspoon in the pan for each batch will be plenty.
**See the printable recipe card at the end of this post for exact quantities**
I have to mention at this point that this is a dump-and-go recipe. There is no need to beat the eggs and sugar together first - just dump everything into your mixing bowl.
Pour the milk into a mixing bowl, then add the eggs, salt, sugar and flour.
Use a balloon whisk (or an electric hand blender) to mix the ingredients until you have a smooth lump-free batter.
The mixture should have a thin pourable consistency - similar to that of double cream.
Heat a teaspoon of oil in a non-stick frying pan, and once it is hot add spoonfuls of the batter. Fry on moderate heat for 30 to 90 seconds until bubbles start to appear on top.
Once the bubbles have appeared and the top is semi-set, turn the drop scones over and fry for another 60 to 90 seconds until they have browned on the other side.
Transfer the cooked drop scones to a plate and keep warm while you fry the rest of the batch.
Tips for perfect drop scones
Here are my tips to get the best drop scones:
- When mixing the batter, be sure to get rid of any lumps of flour. I find a balloon whisk does the job, but if you have an electric hand mixer you could use this instead.
- This recipe requires a leavening agent which is why I used self-raising flour. If you don't have self-raising flour you can use plain flour and add one teaspoon of baking powder per cup of flour.
- Don't over-mix the batter - as soon as the lumps are out you are good to go.
- The batter should have a thin pourable consistency - similar to double cream or custard.
- The size of the spoon isn't important. I used a large serving spoon, but you could make smaller drop scones by using a tablespoon to drop the batter in the pan. If it makes it easier for you, you could also use a jug and simply pour the batter into the pan.
- Make sure you keep the heat to moderate. Too hot and the drop scones will burn before they are cooked through.
- Turn the drop scones as soon as bubbles start to appear on top, and the top of the drop scone is starting to set.
- To keep the drop scones warm, place them on an ovenproof plate and cover them with a layer of tinfoil. Keep them in a warm oven (100C / 210F).
Drop scones are best eaten fresh, but you can store them in a covered container either in the refrigerator or in the pantry for 4 to 5 days.
You can also freeze these drop scones. Pack them in layers in a large freezer container, separating the layers with baking parchment. When you are ready to eat them, take them out of the freezer and let them defrost on the counter.
Drop scones can be eaten cold, but are best served warm. To warm them, either place them in the microwave on half-power for a few seconds or pop them in the toaster until they are just warm. Spread with butter and jam while they are still warm to give the butter time to melt.
For those of you who are unaware of the strange way we northern Brits have for naming meals, here is a quick lesson. Others who live a bit further south might not agree with me, but I'm from the north and this is how we did it!
For some reason, we haven't messed with breakfast! Breakfast is the morning meal no matter where in the world you are!
Dinner - this is eaten in the middle of the day. Those of you who remember school dinners can attest to this. A stodgy plate of food served by eagle-eyed, matronly dinner ladies 'I'm watching you - get that down you'!
Tea - this was served late afternoon / early evening and it was usually a light meal involving a sandwich (or a drop scone if we were lucky). It had nothing to do with tea time which is what the posh people did (at some point in the afternoon) with bone china tea sets, fancy cakes and sandwiches with the crusts cut off.
Supper - this is what the man of the house got when he came home from work, and was the equivalent of a dinner, normally involving meat and 2 veg, or egg and chips if it was just before payday!
It was only when my parents emigrated to South Africa that I realised there was another meal called lunch, which took the place of dinner, and dinner was moved to nighttime and took the place of supper 🙂
And when I invited friends round for tea they told me they didn't like tea, they only drank coffee!
Save for later
If you would like to make these drop scones why not save the recipe to one of your Pinterest boards so you can find it easily? Just click on the image below.
Alternatively, you can save the recipe by clicking on the floating heart icon on the right-hand side of the screen.
Perhaps you'd like to try some of these batter-based recipes too.
Traditional drop scones
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- 1½ cups / 210 grams self-raising flour
- ⅓ cup / 70 grams white sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup milk
- ½ teaspoon salt optional
- 2 to 3 tablespoons sunflower oil for frying - use one teaspoon per batch
- Pour the milk into a mixing bowl, then add the eggs, sugar and flour.⅓ cup / 70 grams white sugar, 2 large eggs, 1 cup milk, ½ teaspoon salt, 1½ cups / 210 grams self-raising flour
- Use a balloon whisk (or an electric hand blender) to mix the ingredients until you have a smooth lump-free batter.
- Heat a teaspoon of oil in a non-stick frying pan, and once it is hot add spoonfuls of the batter. Fry on moderate heat for 30 to 90 seconds until bubbles start to appear on top.2 to 3 tablespoons sunflower oil
- Once the bubbles have appeared and the top is semi-set, turn the drop scones over and fry for another 60 to 90 seconds until they have browned on the other side.
- Transfer the cooked drop scones to a plate and keep warm while you fry the rest of the batch.
- Serve warm with butter and your favourite jam.
I am not a nutritionist. The nutrition information has been calculated using an on-line calculator, and is intended for information and guidance purposes only. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should consider calculating it yourself, using your preferred tool.
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