Edinburgh fruit scones are an old-fashioned Scottish bake that originates in the beautiful capital city of Edinburgh. Soft, crumbly, and sweetened with delicious currants these scones are perfect to enjoy with a nice cup of tea, coffee or glass of chilled oat milk. These scones are 100% vegan as they are egg and dairy-free yet no-one will guess. Perfect for breakfast, brunch, afternoon tea or as an anytime-of-the-day snack.
You don't have to be vegan or plant-based to enjoy these traditional Edinburgh Fruit Scones! In fact throughout history the best scones have always been egg-free and replacing butter with a vegan butter or margarine such as Stork, does result in the lightest, fluffiest and best tasting scone, not to mention the best rising scone!
Origin of Scones
Scones have a long history and evolved from the flatter quick bread that was prepared with oats and cooked on an open griddle during the 1500s in Scotland. This type of bread is termed a bannock and is a no-yeast bread, often containing wheat flour, water and some kind of fat.
Many recipes for bannock are flavoured with dried fruit such as raisins, currants or sultanas. Modern day bannocks are like a large flatter scone that is served just like a scone but divided into triangles or sliced into individual portions.
Some believe that the scone is named after the Scottish stone of destiny which is also know as the stone of scone. This sacred stone was where Scottish kings of old were coronated and officially made kings.
The practice of partaking in scones for afternoon tea is said to have begun with the Duchess of Bedford, England during the 1800s. The duchess was hungry at 4pm in the afternoon so the servants brought her some sweetbreads and scones along with her usual cup of tea. The afternoon treat with tea and scones became an everyday event and so the English afternoon tea was born.
Scones received a literal boost when baking powder was invented by Alfred Bird in 1843 which allowed the scone to rise, become softer and lighter.
Growing up in Scotland afternoon tea was not an actual occurrence with my family and I was unaware of its existence! However, somehow the practice is now part of my own family's traditional which my older kids especially love. Who doesn't love a cup of tea or coffee with a comforting scone freshly baked from the oven?
Vegan Edinburgh Fruit Scones
I lived in Edinburgh for many years with my family and loved all the wee bakeries and cafes that showed of wonderful bakery delights.
However, back then plant-based and vegan options where few and far between. But on more recent visits there are thankfully many vegan options in Edinburgh to enjoy.
Although, a good traditional vegan scone can be difficult to source so I have adapted a tasty old-fashioned Edinburgh scone.
This recipe results in a satisfying rustic looking scone that is soft, light, crumbly, not too sweet and perfect with some vegan spread and a slather of fruit jam.
If your feeling fancy add some vegan thick cream and enjoy with a cup of tea for a Scottish afternoon tea experience.
But don't forget the cucumber sandwiches and to stick your pinkies out when your drinking your tea! Oh and add a slice of this Vegan Victoria Sponge Cake and now you've got a proper afternoon tea!
How to make vegan fruit scones
Prepare the vegan buttermilk by mixing plant milk and apple cider vinegar or lemon juice in a jug.
Preheat the oven.
Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Mix through the sugar and a pinch of salt
Add small blobs of plant margarine/butter to the flour mix.
Using your finger tips rub the margarine into the flour mix until it resembles bread crumbs.
Mix through the dried fruit.
Add tablespoons of plant buttermilk at a time and use a metal spoon or cutlery knife to mix the milk in.
Use just enough plant buttermilk to form a dough. With your hands bring the dough together.
Flour your work surface.
Pat the dough down with your hands and use a biscuit/cookie cutter to gently stamp out six scones.
Place on a baking tray and brush the tops with leftover buttermilk.
Bake in a hot oven until lightly golden and risen. The aromas will be amazing.
Leave on the baking tray for 5 minutes before setting on a rack to cool or just sit on a chopping board.
Recipe Notes and frequently asked questions
Store fruit scones in a covered container or cake tin for 3-4 days.
Or freeze for 2-3 months, and pull out one or two scones whenever you feel like one. They should only need a few hours to defrost completely on your work surface.
Your scones will be at their freshest for 1-2 days.
After the 2nd day your scone will be perfectly fine but if a little stale then simply stick it back in a warm oven for a few minutes to revive and refresh. Your scone will be as good as newly baked, and any vegan butter or margarine spread over will melt and be delicious.
Alternatively, slice and toast your scones, which I love to do for a quick breakfast or for an evening suppertime snack.
* Ensure that your vegan margarine is cold before rubbing it into the flour.
* Work the scone dough as lightly as possible. Take care to not over mix or knead the dough too much. It should only be kneaded for a few seconds.
* When adding the vegan buttermilk add a tablespoon at a time and use an ordinary cutlery metal knife to mix or similar.
*Never use a rolling pin to roll out your scone dough. Just gently pat down with your hands.
* When stamping out rounds of scones with a biscuit or cookie cutter don't twist the cutter as you lift the scone up. Just gently shoogle (move) the cutter up and down and pull away the scone mix from outside the cutter if necessary.
* Dip the cookie cutter in flour between each use to help the scone shift out the cutter with ease.
* Try not to get the sides of your scone wet with too much milk when you glaze the top.
* Scones do best when baked in a hot oven for a short time.
This might seem like a lot of tips to remember but once you have prepared scones a few times they are a lot easier to bake. I promise! And they are so worth the extra thought.
If your in the US you may think that currants are related to the currant berry such as black or red currants. However, currants are actually a variety of small grape known as the Black Corinth grape which is believed to have been introduced to the Mediterranean region over 2,000 years ago. From there, it made its way to the UK and other parts of Europe.
To make dried currants, the grapes are left to dry on the vine or picked and laid out in the sun to dry. Once they have dried, the grapes become smaller and darker in color, with a sweet and tangy flavor.
In Britain, dried currants have been a staple ingredient in traditional baking for hundreds of years. For example, they are a key ingredient in traditional Christmas pudding, which dates back to the 14th century. They are also used in other classic British desserts such as Eccles cakes, mince pies, Scottish fruit slice, and fruitcakes.
The use of dried currants in British baking became especially widespread during the Victorian era, when many new recipes and baking techniques were introduced.
Today, dried currants continue to be a popular ingredient in British baking and are used in a wide range of sweet and savory dishes such as salads and pilafs. They can also be eaten as a snack or added to trail mix or granola for an extra burst of sweetness.
Dried currants can be quite expensive depending on where you live and what stores or shops you have access to, so if for any reason you can't use currants its not a major problem for a recipe as there are a few ideal substitutions.
Raisins: Raisins are a good substitute for dried currants, as they are also dried grapes. They have a similar sweet and slightly tangy flavor, although they are larger and plumper than currants.
Dried cranberries: Dried cranberries are a tart and tangy fruit that can be used as a substitute for currants. They are slightly sweeter than currants, but still add a nice burst of flavor.
Chopped dried apricots: Chopped dried apricots are a good substitute if you're looking for a fruit with a similar texture to currants. They have a slightly tangy and sweet flavor that can work well in both sweet and savory dishes.
Chopped dried cherries: Chopped dried cherries are another good substitute for dried currants. They have a similar size and texture, and have a sweet-tart flavor.
Candied or glace cherries can also be used but these have a sweeter flavor compared to dried cherries, but do make delicious scones.
Sultanas or golden raisins: Sultanas are a type of raisin that are made from yellow or green grapes. They have a milder and sweeter flavor than regular raisins, but can be a good substitute for dried currants.
Got some leftover vegan buttermilk? It can be used in so many ways so don't pour it down the sink! Even if you don't have enough for a specific recipe, you can always add more milk and more vinegar or lemon juice to top the leftovers up.
* Vegan pancakes or waffles: Use your leftover vegan buttermilk in place of regular milk in your favorite pancake or waffle recipe. This will add a tangy flavor to your breakfast dish. Our pancake recipe can also be made into waffles, simply use the pancake mixture with your waffle machine. We also have an amazing vegan Chocolate Chip Pancake recipe.
Vegan biscuits: Buttermilk is a key ingredient in classic Southern-style biscuits. Use your leftover vegan buttermilk to make vegan biscuits. You can find many recipes online. Try our vegan Buttermilk Scone recipe, which is similar to a US biscuit recipe. These buttermilk scones are just the lightest, fluffiest scones ever.
Vegan ranch dressing: Mix your leftover vegan buttermilk with vegan mayonnaise, garlic powder, onion powder, and fresh herbs to make a vegan ranch dressing.
Vegan coleslaw: Use your leftover vegan buttermilk to make a tangy coleslaw dressing. Mix it with shredded cabbage, carrots, and your favorite veggies for a tasty side dish.
Vegan marinade: Use your leftover vegan buttermilk as a base for a marinade for tofu, seitan, or vegetables. Add herbs and spices of your choice and let the ingredients marinate for at least an hour before cooking.
Vegan mashed potatoes: Mix your leftover vegan buttermilk with boiled and mashed potatoes for a tangy twist on classic mashed potatoes.
Irish Soda Bread: Use any leftover buttermilk and put it towards the buttermilk required for this deliciously easy no-knead, no-rising, no-yeast traditional Irish wheaten bread.
A glaze: Baking bread, scones, rolls, baps, etc? A vegan buttermilk glaze will enhance their flavour whilst creating a lovely golden surface.
Homemade vegan buttermilk typically lasts about 5-7 days in the refrigerator, depending on the freshness of the plant-based milk used to make it. The acidity in buttermilk helps to preserve it for a few days, but eventually, it will start to spoil.
To maximize the shelf life of homemade vegan buttermilk, it's important to store it properly. Keep the buttermilk in an airtight container and store it in the coldest part of your refrigerator, such as the back of the bottom shelf. This will help to maintain a consistent temperature and prevent any contamination from other foods.
To check if your vegan buttermilk has gone bad, give it a sniff and a taste. If it smells sour or off and tastes unpleasant, it's likely past its prime and should be discarded. Additionally, if you notice any mold or discoloration in the buttermilk, it should also be discarded.
Overall, homemade vegan buttermilk is best used within a few days of making it, but can last up to a week if stored properly and checked for freshness before use.
Yes, vegan buttermilk can be frozen. However, it's important to note that the texture and consistency of the buttermilk may change once it's thawed. When you freeze buttermilk, the water in it will expand, which can cause the buttermilk to separate and become grainy.
To freeze vegan buttermilk, simply pour it into an airtight container or freezer bag and seal tightly. Allow some room near the top of the container as the milk may expand as its frozen. Its always best to label and write the date on the bag, [although I tend to forget this step and end up with a pile of mysterious frozen goods!].
When you're ready to use the frozen vegan buttermilk, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight. Once it's thawed, give it a good stir to help recombine any separated liquid. The thawed buttermilk may not have the same texture as fresh buttermilk, so it may be best used in recipes that don't rely on its texture, such as pancakes or baked goods.
Oh and its always best to freeze in portions and write the measurements on the container, it just makes life easier! Though I did see on social media someone from the US had freezer baggies that had 1 cup, ½ cup, ¼ cup, etc, already printed on the bag. Great idea and wish we had those in the UK.
The best plant-based milk to use when making vegan buttermilk is a milk that has a higher fat content and a slightly tangy flavor, such as soy milk or oat milk. These types of milk are thicker and richer than other plant-based milks like almond milk or rice milk, which can result in a thicker and creamier vegan buttermilk.
Its always worth making a batch of vegan buttermilk just to freeze in portions for later use, especially for baking vegan goodies. If you have some vegan milk that needs using up before it gets tipped down the sink, or is close to its best by date, or maybe you got lucky and bought a few cartons on sale, then pre-making buttermilk is a great idea.
Here's a useful simple vegan buttermilk recipe to keep-on-hand that can be used for any recipe requiring buttermilk:
1 cup soy or oat milk
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, distilled white vinegar, or lemon juice
In a bowl, combine 1 cup of soy milk and 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Stir well to combine.
Allow about 15-20 minutes for the milk to curdle [the milk can be left longer]. This will create the tangy flavor and thicker consistency of buttermilk.
The exact amount of curdle-ness depends on the plant milk used, and some milks like soya milk will look very curdled while others look less so. However, both will still do the job fine.
After about 20 minutes, give the mixture a stir to ensure it's fully combined.
Your vegan buttermilk is now ready to use in your favorite recipes or to freeze for later use.
More vegan traditional scone recipes
***please note: for US measurements click the 'US customary button' within the recipe and the measurements will switch to tablespoons, cups, and ounces.***
Edinburgh Fruit Scone
- Baking tray parchment/baking paper if necessary to line
- Biscuit/cookie cutter about 7cm diameter
Basic scone recipe
- 285 grams self-raising flour [plus extra as required]
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoon caster sugar [or granulated]
- 57 grams vegan margarine [such as Flora, Vitalite or Stork, or vegan butter]
- 1 pinch salt
For the filling
- 110 grams dried currants [dried currants are the traditional choice, but raisins, sultanas or mixed dried fruit can be used]
For the plant-based buttermilk
- 250 millilitre plant-based milk [soya or oat milk are good choices, use extra if required]
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar [or white distilled vinegar, or lemon juice]
- Preheat oven to 200 Fan/ 220 Celsius/ 428 Fahrenheit / gas 7.
To prepare the plant buttermilk
- Add the apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to the plant milk and mix well.Set aside until needed.1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, 250 millilitre plant-based milk
Prepare the scones
- Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Stir through the sugar and salt.285 grams self-raising flour, 2 teaspoon baking powder, 2 tablespoon caster sugar, 1 pinch salt
- Tip in the margarine and using just your fingertips rub the margarine into the flour until the mix looks like breadcrumbs.57 grams vegan margarine
- Mix through the currants.110 grams dried currants
- Add a tablespoon of buttermilk at a time to the scone mixture, stirring well with a cutlery knife or similar.You may need between 8-10 tablespoons to achieve a dough.
- Once a dough has nearly formed tip the dough onto a floured surface and gently work it together to a ball. It may be slightly sticky but that's ok, just sprinkle extra flour over.If its too dry and crumbly wet your hands with a little plant milk and try form the dough ball. Or sprinkle some plant milk over the dough and work it into a ball.
- Gently pat the dough into a circular shape. For large scones pat down until the dough is about 1 inch high [2 ½ cm].For smaller scones pat down to about ½ inch thick [1½ cm].Measurements are just rough estimates so don't get to bogged down trying to achieve perfection!
- Dust the biscuit cutter with some flour, and gently stamp out scones being careful not to twist the cutter as you remove the scone, as this may result in a wonky rising scone. Although wonky rising scones are traditional and just as good!
- If you want taller scones then they have to be quite tall going into the oven.
- Place the scones onto a floured baking tray or use parchment paper if necessary to prevent sticking.
- Lightly glaze the top of your scones with the leftover buttermilk. If you don't have much buttermilk left just use the drips or remnants left on the sides of your jug. A pastry brush is helpful here! But clean finger tips can also do the job!If you don't have enough buttermilk just use some extra plant milk.
- Bake on the middle shelf or one shelf under your highest shelf, for about 10-14 minutes. I have a fan oven so smaller scones generally take around 10 minutes and larger scones about 12-13 minutes. Although as fan ovens tend to bake faster other ovens may take a few minutes longer.
- Scones will be ready when they smell lovely, have risen, are lightly golden brown and browned on the underside as well.
- Enjoy hot from the oven or at room temperature.
- Nutritional data is for guidance only and is not intended to be an exact calculation as ingredients vary.
- Its generally advised that fruit scones are best eaten the day they are baked. However I have discovered that the flavour and texture of the scone can be better the next day. Scones will be good for up to 3-4 days.
- For stale scones just toast and enjoy. Or re-heat in a hot oven for a few minutes. So good.
- Scones cope well with being frozen for up to 2-3 months but possibly longer if well wrapped.
- Check out the recipe notes and frequently asked questions above the recipe for top tips on preparing the best scones.
- Add any variety of dried fruit to your scones. Such as just sultanas or raisins. Or use a dried fruit mix, the ones intended for Christmas cakes and puddings. Traditional Edinburgh scones would have used currants.
- Don't like dried fruit? Just leave them out and maybe add some grated lemon or orange peel for a citrusy scone.
- Love cherry scones? Add some chopped glace [candied] cherries in place of the dried fruit.
- Edinburgh fruit scones are tasty for breakfast, mid-morning snack, afternoon tea or supper. Or anytime you fancy one.
- Plain or fruit scones can be served with a wedge of vegan cheese on the side for a rustic lunch. Add some grapes or cherry tomatoes. Lovely for a picnic lunch.
- Want to prepare a double batch? Simply double the ingredients, but only use 1 tablespoon of baking powder rather than 4 teaspoons as too much baking powder can affect the flavour.
Thank you for trying out our Edinburgh Fruit Scones! We hope you enjoyed making and savoring it as much as we do.
If you tried this recipe, please let us know in the comments below how it turned out for you, or if you made any modifications.
If you share your creations on social media, don't forget to tag us (@traditionalplantbasedcooking) and use the hashtag #traditionalplantbasedcooking, so we can see your scrumptious dishes!
Lastly, if you found this recipe helpful, please share it with your friends and family, so they can enjoy it too.
Thank you, and happy cooking!
Love, Jacq x