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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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scone defined by the OED as ‘A soft flat cake of barley meal, oatmeal or flour, baked quickly and eaten buttered’. The dictionary explains that it is originally a Scots word and may be derived from ‘schoonbrot’ or ‘sconbrot’, fine white bread. The pronunciation of the word shows a distinct regional divide, being ‘skon’ in Scotland and northern England, and ‘skoan’ in the south.

What is certain is that the term is mainly a British one, and covers a wide range of small, fairly plain cakes. Leavened with baking powder, or bicarbonate of soda and an acid ingredient such as sour milk, they are quickly made and best eaten hot with butter. Scone recipes are found in great variety up and down the British Isles but, together with the closely related bannock, are particularly a Scottish speciality.