Gussied up elevenses: Marion Cunningham’s scones


Elevenses. The meal eaten by hobbits between the second breakfast and luncheon (J. R. R. Tolkien). A second breakfast – those hobbits are wise creatures.

For me, elevenses isn’t elevenses unless scones are involved. But whose scones?

The American scones have changed from the classic Britisher. No longer are they round, primly delicate, glazed with milk, eaten with clotted cream and jam. The transtlantic type can be stuffed with fresh pears, berries, nuts, chocolate, and did I hear mention of jalapeno? Made with wholemeal (whole wheat), ricotta, cream. Sugar coated, maple syruped, and glazed.

In a word, gussied-up. (ok, two words)


Marion Cunningham’s scones is on this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) baking roster. It’s your classic buttermilk scone, albeit with a transatlantic presentation.

Given my thing about elevenses and hobbits, I had every intention of making classic buttermilk scones smothered in jam and then super-thick cream (yes, I put on jam and then cream, Devon style, sorry Cornwall). But while clearing out the pantry, I saw a bunch of dried fruit and dark chocolate and – dear reader – I made Americanesque gussied-up scones.

That is to say, I blitzed up the dried fruit and chocolates, added a pinch of spice, a tablespoonful of jam, and added the whole thing to the flour mixture. Come to think of it, the dried fruit and chocolate mixture was like the filling for Buccellato or for Cucidati. The fruit mince textured mix-in probably also made the scones look a tad more “rustic”, less like the Britisher scones made with tender white flour.


At first, my inner Samwise Gangee was guzzumped, was I betraying the dainty scones of CWA and the Shire? Then, the Bagginses, Frodo and Bilbo both, decided it’s all good. These scone have left their Shire home and come back full of strange ideas, but that’s what adventure is all about.

I left out the sugar in the scones mixture and relied on the sugar in the dried fruit and marmalade, which resulted in almost non-sweet scones. To sweeten the deal, I added a milky glaze to one batch,  which Mr Gander approved of. I ate the others with jam or some plum chutney I had made during a recent plum glut. This may sound strange, but, the plum chutney – with its sweetness tempered by lemon and masala spices – went down a treat.

Next time, Samwise Gamgee, we’ll have clotted Devonish cream and real strawberry jam. Oh yes Mr Frodo, that famousest of Devonshire teas.


Other scones, other Cunninghams

Not to be obsessive, but I also made Marion Cunningham’s cream scones (recipe here), which uses double cream in place of butter and buttermilk. The texture was quite similar, perhaps a little softer, and it was by far the easiest recipe I’ve ever made.

Then, there’s Marion Cunningham’s angel biscuits (recipe here), which uses yeast, baking soda and baking powder in the same dough, to get a light-as-air result.

There’s Scotland’s tattie (potato) scones (example here), which we had for breakfast, in moderation, while travelling through Scotland last year.

And there’s Utah scones (see here, and here, and here – can you tell I was getting carried away?): deep fried yeasted dough, drizzled with butter and honey. These scones really know how to party.


Go check out the other TWD bakers at the LYL page (I’ll update the link when the page is up). And speaking of Scottish tattie scones, I’ll leave you with this exchange between Sam and Sméagol/Gollum about taters:

“Sméagol won’t grub for roots and carrotses and – taters. What’s taters, precious, eh, what’s taters?”

“Po-ta-toes,” said Sam. “The Gaffer’s delight, and rare good ballast for an empty belly. But you won’t find any, so you needn’t look. But be good Sméagol and fetch me some herbs, and I’ll think better of you. What’s more, if you turn over a new leaf, and keep it turned, I’ll cook you some taters one of these days. I will; fried fish and chips served by S. Gamgee. You couldn’t say no to that.”

“Yes, yes we could. Spoiling nice fish, scorching it. Give me fish now, and keep nassty chips!”

“Oh, you’re hopeless,” said Sam. “Go to sleep!”


Marion Cunningham’s buttermilk scones

(from Baking with Julia, by Dorie Greenspan, page 210-211. Recipe also here. My changes noted below)


For the Scones
3 cups plain / all-purpose flour (I used about 400 grams)
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 ounces (170g) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup buttermilk

For mix-ins and butter glaze (this is not Marion’s original)
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted, for brushing
Approx 50 grams of mixed dried fruit and dark chocolate pieces
1 tbsp marmalade
1-2 tsp mixed spices (I had a ready made mixture of cinnamon, powdered cloves, cardamom, pink pepper)


1. Chop the mixed fruit and chocolate in a food processor until they have a fruit mince texture. Place into a small bowl and mix in the spices and marmalade.

2. Position racks to divide oven into thirds and preheat to 425°F (220°C). Stir flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together with a fork.  Add dried fruit mixture and work it into the dry ingredients until evenly distributed. Add butter pieces and do the same until the mixture resembles very coarse cornmeal (mine seemed extra crumbly and coarse because of the additional dried fruit ‘mince’).

3. Pour in 1 cup buttermilk and the zest, and mix until ingredients are just moistened.  If dough looks dry, add another tablespoon buttermilk.  Gather dough into a ball, turn it onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead briefly.  Cut dough in half (I divided in 3 pieces to get smaller pieces of scones).

4. Roll one piece of dough into a 1/2 inch (1.3cm) thick circle (I think mine were a bit thinner).  Brush the dough with some of the melted butter and cut the circle into 8 triangles.  Place the scones on a lined baking tray and repeat with remaining dough.

5. Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until tops and bottoms are golden. Because I used a heavy baking tray, the bottoms browned quicker than the top so keep an eye on these from about 7 minutes.  Cool on a rack, add milky glaze if you like a bit of extra sweetness.

Improvised milk glaze: I don’t have a written recipe. From memory it was about equal amounts of full cream milk powder and icing sugar, mixed with enough full cream milk to form a glaze. Add the milk by quarter teaspoons. The milk powder gives the glaze an extra milky (and less sweet) taste, think Momofuku milk crumbs kind of milky taste.

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59 thoughts on “Gussied up elevenses: Marion Cunningham’s scones

  1. ediblethings 4 March 2014 at 6:20 am Reply

    Both the scones and the hobbit exchange are delightful.
    As a former resident of Cornwall (and of course there had to be one) I have to tell you that you are eating your English scones the correct way – that is to say jam, then cream is the Cornish way. Never mind what those Devon Boys might have you believe.

    • saucygander 4 March 2014 at 10:28 pm Reply

      Oh really? Shows how wrong the internet can be. I read in a couple of places that the Devon way is jam then cream. I’d better change that in the post! Thanks for telling me – I seem to learn something new every time I blog! 🙂

      • ediblethings 4 March 2014 at 11:28 pm

        It’s a very controversial topic, with a million different opinions 😉

  2. tinywhitecottage 4 March 2014 at 7:46 am Reply

    Wonderfully amusing and entertaining. The scones are to die for, just what I need right about now.

    • saucygander 4 March 2014 at 10:28 pm Reply

      Thanks! They were pretty good for tea!

  3. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella 4 March 2014 at 9:00 am Reply

    Scone, biscuit or whatever they look and sound fantastic. And when I read Marion Cunningham I immediately though of Happy Days! 😛

    • saucygander 4 March 2014 at 10:30 pm Reply

      Haha! I should have said “not Happy Days” Marion! I decided not to go into scones vs biscuits, as that discussion will probably never end! If it’s got sausage gravy on it, it’s a bscuit; if it has clotted cream and jam, it’s a scone. 🙂

  4. {Main St. Cuisine} 4 March 2014 at 9:10 am Reply

    Funny, I was just sitting down yesterday and looking through recipes for scones. Seems our ongoing winter has led me to believe I must bake some scones sometime this week. Yours look wonderful and I’m certain I’d be eating many more scones than I should throughout the day (not necessarily a bad thing)…

    • saucygander 4 March 2014 at 11:20 pm Reply

      How funny, I also find I come across recipes by coincidence. I did end up eating a few, I told myself they are better than cheesecakes…. 🙂

  5. Ngan R. 4 March 2014 at 9:31 am Reply

    Ahhh, I replay that exchange between Smeagol and Sam quite often in my kitchen whenever I make potatoes of any sort. Now, I’ll think of these scones when I do my Sam/Smeagol conversation. I quite enjoy elevenses myself and will try it with scones soon!

    • saucygander 4 March 2014 at 11:22 pm Reply

      Elevenses are the best! And it’s good to see we have the same (good) taste in movies. 🙂

  6. Gather and Graze 4 March 2014 at 9:34 am Reply

    Fantastic post Saucy… loved every minute of it and brightened up my morning! Elevenses is not far off and I’m now craving a cup of tea and one of your scones! Jam and then the cream for me too – wouldn’t have it any other way! 🙂

    • saucygander 4 March 2014 at 11:24 pm Reply

      Yay, I’m glad you liked this one. There is something about a good scone with jam and cream isn’t there – and yes to jam and then cream!

  7. lemongrovecakediaries 4 March 2014 at 9:38 am Reply

    I wouldn’t mind one of these for elevenses… I confess I also thought of Happy Days when I saw the title 🙂

    • saucygander 4 March 2014 at 11:26 pm Reply

      Haha, I could have called these Happy Scones! 🙂

  8. Johnny Hepburn 4 March 2014 at 10:07 am Reply

    You’re pushing me with the chutney! Haha. Even though I love plums I wouldn’t dare with scones. Not that I care less about anything Britishness. And I must try American scones! I’ve got several recipes bookmarked and still haven’t bothered. I’ve gotten lazy during Winter with baking.
    These characters? Are they all in your head?! No, must be from Tolkien. I’ve never heard of them.

    • saucygander 4 March 2014 at 11:28 pm Reply

      Lol I was wondering if anyone would comment on the chutney! I know it’s totally no-no but the seasoning was about right… as for the characters, yes, they are from Tolkien but sometimes I put outrageous words in their mouths! 🙂

  9. Patty Nguyen 4 March 2014 at 10:10 am Reply

    We offer the students a second breakfast at my school. Breakfast is at 8 and second breakfast is at 10. Lucky kids! Your scones look delish, by the way!

    • saucygander 4 March 2014 at 11:30 pm Reply

      Lucky kids indeed! I will tell my manager at work to have time for second breakfasts! I think I know what he’s going to say…! 🙂

      • Patty Nguyen 5 March 2014 at 3:34 am

        Hahaha…well it can’t hurt to ask! 😉

      • saucygander 6 March 2014 at 12:07 am

        You’re right! 🙂

  10. lapetitecasserole 4 March 2014 at 2:11 pm Reply

    I’ve never tried to prepare scones, now I’m obliged to make up for lost time!

    • saucygander 6 March 2014 at 12:00 am Reply

      I would swap some for your spelt cookies, but we’ve eaten them all!

  11. Sunita 4 March 2014 at 11:22 pm Reply

    Your scones look great with the milk glaze. Very amusing account.

    • saucygander 6 March 2014 at 12:03 am Reply

      Thank you, your scones looked good too!

  12. thatskinnychickcanbake 5 March 2014 at 2:19 am Reply

    Your glaze and add ins pushed these over the top! Brava!

    • saucygander 6 March 2014 at 12:04 am Reply

      Thanks Liz, your strawberry scones looked spectacular too!

  13. melimelocooks 5 March 2014 at 2:24 am Reply

    Ah!ah!! So funny post!!!
    I enjoyed this recipe too, and I’m sure it must be wonderful in every way you make it!!
    To answer to your comment on my blog, I made the mocha brownie cake, and trust me it was wonderful!!! Make it, you won’t regret it!!!

    • saucygander 6 March 2014 at 12:06 am Reply

      With encouragement like that, I’ll definitely make the cake this weekend!

  14. Karen 5 March 2014 at 3:04 am Reply

    My kiddos are also a fan of elevenses. 😉 Your scones look beautiful and I am sure they tasted even better!

    • saucygander 6 March 2014 at 12:07 am Reply

      Your child has the right idea. Elevenses is a great social institution that should be more widely observed! 🙂

  15. Dawn 5 March 2014 at 4:22 am Reply


    I loved reading your post and seeing your gorgeous scones!

    And yes, elevenses are a necessity. The world would be a happier place if everyone took part!

    • saucygander 6 March 2014 at 12:08 am Reply

      Hear, hear! Then we can all bake more scones. 🙂

  16. yummychunklet 5 March 2014 at 4:52 am Reply

    Your scones look amazing!

  17. steph (whisk/spoon) 5 March 2014 at 5:08 am Reply

    I like both the British and American style scones (all though I’d never heard of the fried ones before…what are they doing out there in Utah?). Your gussied up ones sound delish!

    • saucygander 6 March 2014 at 12:12 am Reply

      I know, the Utah scones are pretty different to any I’ve heard of. But I’m intrigued. Maybe a trial is in order. The things we do for our blog!

  18. sharron - one clever mom 5 March 2014 at 5:21 am Reply

    Yum. You took these scones to a whole new level with the glaze and such! They look delicious!

    • saucygander 6 March 2014 at 12:13 am Reply

      Thanks! The glaze was pretty good, as was licking the spoon after mixing the glaze. 🙂

  19. SandraM 5 March 2014 at 11:02 am Reply

    Great post! Very entertaining! I am a fan of the scone as well and have made a few different ones. Will have to check out the other ones you mention too. 🙂

    • saucygander 6 March 2014 at 12:15 am Reply

      I hope you try Ms Cunningham’s cream scones, if possible it was even easier….and tasty!

  20. jane of many trades 5 March 2014 at 11:54 am Reply

    everything i know about elevenses comes from winnie the pooh! i love the idea of dried fruit and chocolate with cardamom-you know how to scone!!!

    • saucygander 6 March 2014 at 12:17 am Reply

      Winnie the Pooh is a source of wisdom, and probably closer to the real British elevenses than Tolkien’s story, but I’ll take both! 🙂

  21. isthisakeeper 5 March 2014 at 12:34 pm Reply

    Yours look relish! I make a chocolate chip scone with an icing drizzled just like you did! 🙂

    • saucygander 6 March 2014 at 12:18 am Reply

      Great minds think alike on the drizzle!

  22. Michelle 5 March 2014 at 1:46 pm Reply

    Being guilty of so many food atrocities, I’m glad to see that we Americans have made some good contribution to the world of scones. 🙂

    • saucygander 5 March 2014 at 9:32 pm Reply

      Ha! Especially the Utah scones? I’m kind of intrigued by that, maybe on one of those winter days when I just want to eat sugar and deep fried…

  23. Teresa 5 March 2014 at 9:18 pm Reply

    I can’t see any Hobbit (or Hobbit-loving human) passing up one of your scones. Love the additions you made. And guzzumped is a great word!

  24. Sally 5 March 2014 at 11:43 pm Reply

    Brilliant post and delicious recipe. Tolkien fans all of us – my daughter started to learn Elvish – a wouldn’t turn these down for a second breakfast, first, lunch or dinner.

  25. galettista 6 March 2014 at 1:39 am Reply

    It’s funny to think of hobbits eating scones…I associate them (scones, not hobbits) with high tea. I think the hobbits would be pretty excited about your version with the delicious sounding add-ins.

  26. Coffee and Crumpets 6 March 2014 at 5:05 am Reply

    My 8 yr old is obsessed with LOTR and The Hobbit. We all are actually, but he takes it to the point of wanting breakfast, 2 breakfast and elevenses. He’d adore these for sure 🙂
    Scones are wonderful and being a Brit, have eaten my fair share. There’s alway room for more, especially these ones with clotted cream and jam….yum!

  27. oven chaos 6 March 2014 at 8:37 am Reply

    Ooo, you are sweetening the deal, no doubt here! Love that spice mixture a lot. Elevenses 🙂

  28. Cathleen 6 March 2014 at 2:12 pm Reply

    Wow! Your scones look fabulous! Especially the glazed ones. Nice work!

  29. laurasmess 6 March 2014 at 3:55 pm Reply

    YES! I’ve always thought of myself as a hobbit so elevenses is a totally essential thing. I normally eat crackers, fruit or some dip and crudites though. If I had one of these scones I’d be in a very happy, scone-induced daze. Love that milky glaze… it’d go perfectly with the spice and orange. Yum xx

  30. sunshine x 2 8 March 2014 at 6:00 am Reply

    Scones are perfect for elevensies- great reference. And nice work being so creative with your scones- I always follow a recipe so straight the first go around…

  31. Liz 8 March 2014 at 11:14 am Reply

    mmmm….and so much fun to read! Love how you use words such as “guzzumped” 😀 And Marion Cunningham is always a good call.

  32. Victoria 10 March 2014 at 4:08 am Reply

    I love scones and this recipe sounds fabulous!

  33. tableofcolors 18 March 2014 at 10:53 pm Reply

    Love the elevenses 😉 An epic idea, indeed! And your gussied-up scones look wonderful!

  34. Cteavin 29 March 2014 at 3:19 pm Reply

    I haven’t thought about Marion Cunningham in years. I have her cookbooks stored away. She’s a classic — and your photos, as always, awesome.

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