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Granny's Scone Recipe - handed down through the family.

To make the best scones you need cold hands - or is that a Scottish baking myth?

Johanna's Granny made the best scones.

Flora macdonald - johanna's granny - pictured in the 1950s.

Flora macdonald - johanna's granny - pictured in the 1950s.

scones i made to my granny's recipe

scones i made to my granny's recipe

Kate Macdonald (nee Gillies) - johanna's great-grandmother - feeding her hens in the kitchen garden of her home, arisaig Hotel - mid 1930s.

Kate Macdonald (nee Gillies) - johanna's great-grandmother - feeding her hens in the kitchen garden of her home, arisaig Hotel - mid 1930s.

Granny's Scottish Scone Recipe.

My granny, Johanna writes, was called Flora Macdonald (1904 - 1991). This recipe came from her mother Catherine (Kate) Gillies who was from Snizort on Skye - born in 1879. Before that, I reckon this recipe and method came from her mother, Flora Gillies, a crofter's wife - who also lived on the Isle of Skye.


  • 8oz (225 g) self raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1.5 oz (40g) caster sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1.5 oz (40g) soft-ish butter or margarine - chopped into chunks
  • 1 egg - beaten.
  • As for the milk, use whatever kind you have in the fridge. Granny would use milk she had allowed to go sour - and her scones were always so light and soft - but I haven't tried this. Buttermilk works well, if you can find it in the shops - use 1 carton (284 mls) - otherwise ordinary milk mixed with a small amount of lemon juice - and pop it in the microwave to warm through - this works well too.
  • You could double the quantities - if you want a big batch of scones! - they freeze well.


Turn the oven up to its highest setting , say, 220 C / 390 F (as long as it is hot!). Pre-heat a baking tray. (No grease or flour on tray yet.) Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Most recipes say rub in the butter or margarine into the flour - but I hardy rub it. Like granny did, I start off using a knife - as it helps to keep the mixture cold. Or use the food processor. Blitz it!

Remember -  it is better not to over-handle the mixture. Granny had cold hands - this surely helped! (Her pastry was light as a feather too!) Then add the beaten egg and some of the milk - mix with the knife too at this point. Add some vanilla essence at this point - though I don't think granny would have used such an exotic ingredient! Then add the rest of milk to get the mixture to bind - do not make the mixture too wet. It should come together in a softish ball. Obviously, if it's sloppy, you'll not be able to cut out your scones!

Flatten the ball gently with your hands. I usually have the ball at least 1.5 inches thick. Remove the hot tray from oven and sprinkle with a little flour. Place scones on tray and bake for about 10 minutes, depending on your oven. I place the tray near the top of my oven.

These scones are nicest eaten the same day. The next day they are okay, but after that, they are best toasted. They freeze very well though. The original Granny's scones were an exception though - it may have been the sour milk or the knife - I recall hers were soft and tasty even 2 or 3 days later. I have never quite managed to reproduce that texture. They toast well too - if a day or two old. Nice with marmalade for breakfast.