Drop scones have a special place in my heart. My first real job was at a little bakery called Isle’s Bun and Coffee in Minneapolis. They specialize in giant delicious cinnamon and sticky buns, with all the frosting you could ever want. I took home many leftovers, but eventually ended up bringing most of them to friends because I couldn’t even look at cinnamon rolls anymore, I really haven’t started enjoying them again until just recently. But one thing I could eat through all my years of working there were the buttermilk drop scones, in absolutely any flavor. Fluffy, tangy, not too sweet… perfect with a big cup of coffee.
Isle’s had drop scones and pie scones. And that memory got me thinking today, what is the real difference between pie and drop scones? I searched the internet and never found a clear answer, no set of criteria or definition, so I decided to make my own:
The Pie vs. Drop Scone: a general outline
- Maybe the most obvious is the shape. Drop scones are very free form, normally a dome-ish shape, pie scones are normally triangular, but could also be cut into circles with a biscuit or cookie cutter.
- The liquid to dry ingredient ratio is the next indicator of scone type. Drop scones have a higher ratio of liquid, which makes the dough stickier – and more difficult to form into a pie. The dryer dough used for pie scones is easy to shape, wrap and refrigerate.
- Drop scones will more frequently feature fresh or fresh-frozen fruits, pie scones more often have denser add-ins like nuts, dried fruit and oats. This is partly a common sense thing – Pie scones require a lot of extra manipulation, forming into a pie, cutting, moving… any fresh fruit would burst after all that abuse. It is also a texture thing, light fresh fruit matches better with a fluffy drop scone dough than a dryer dense pie scone.
- This is not 100% of the time, but more often than not drop scones are made with buttermilk and pie scones are made with whole milk or cream.
So, on that note, today we are making drop scones – they are dome shaped, made with very sticky dough and they contain fresh-frozen raspberries and buttermilk. Did I mention they are wonderful and pretty as well?
Raspberry Orange Drop Scones
- 3 cups AP flour
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup butter, chilled (1.5 sticks)
- 1 cup buttermilk – plus a little more to brush on the tops
- 1 egg
- zest and juice of one orange
- 1 cup raspberries
- Coarse sugar for sprinkling.
Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda and salt. Whisk together the buttermilk and the egg. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
Work the butter into the dry mixture with your hands or a pastry cutter until only small pea sized pieces of butter remain. Then add the raspberries and zest. Squeeze the orange juice into the buttermilk mixture.
Add the buttermilk mixture a little bit at a time, stirring the dough with a spoon or your hands (get messy!) just until combined. Use a quarter cup ice cream scoop and plop heaping scoops of the dough onto lined baking sheets. Then brush on a buttermilk wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Allow to cool, at least partially, and enjoy.