A Short History of Scones - Ackroyd's Scottish Bakery

A Short History of Scones

Though it isn't certain, many believe that scones originated in Scotland in the 16th century. Scones can be traced back to another "quick bread," called bannocks. Bannocks are an oat based flatbread that is often cooked on a griddle and cut into farls. Farls refer to the quadrant shape, or basically a circle cut into four equal parts. 

If you've ever eaten a scone in the United Kingdom, you may have noticed a similarity to an American biscuit. British scones are usually lightly sweetned and contain fruit like currants or berries. Scottish scones are often closer to a biscuit and are made with buttermilk, though some Scottish grandmothers will swear you should only use sour milk. 

Just like a cookie, bread, or any other baked good, personal preference is always at play. Our scones are delicate and not dry at all. Sometimes we are told, "these are Scottish scones!" which is perfectly reasonable considering we are not in Scotland. We do believe our scones, which are made in small batches with the utmost care, are quite good if you're looking for a slightly sweet scone that goes splendidly with clotted cream and jam. 

It is quite interesting to imagine that every time you're eating a scone, there are hundreds of years of history in that humble treat. The scone has made it nearly 500 years. Although he may not discuss scones directly, even Scotland's national poet, Robert Burns has a tangetial connection to scones. Clarinda's Tearoom in Edinburgh has been serving scones for decades. Clarinda is the pseudonym for Anges McLehose, a woman who Burns met in Edinburgh in the late 1700s. They became smitten with each other and exchanged letters where Burns used the pseudonym Sylvander to Agnes' Clarinda. 

Oftentimes, scones are the centerpiece of an Afternoon Tea, alongside jam, clotted cream, finger sandwiches, and (of course), tea. Adding even more historical context, Afternoon Tea was popularized by Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, around 1840. The Duchess would be hungry around 4pm and did not want to wait for supper, which was usually served around 8pm. Anna started something special. Soon, she was inviting others to enjoy tea, bread, and butter. The Earl of Sandwich at the time would sometimes make sandwiches to go along with the festivities. Now, Afternoon Tea, like many traditions of the past, encompasses a whole range of items including scones, biscuits, and more.

Whether you're enjoying your scone in a tearoom in Edinburgh or you're ordering scones from us to host your own Afternoon Tea at home, the historical significance of this quick bread cannot be denied. 

“...but if there is one universal truth in the human experience, it is that a finely honed scone-eating palate does not just develop overnight.” ― Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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