Freeze and bake scones: oven-fresh treats on a tight schedule

Q. We run a bed and breakfast, and often need to have fresh baked goods ready very early in the morning. Is there some way we can freeze prepared recipes to bake first thing? – Mary Ann and Jim Guertin, Lake George, NY

A: Freeze and bake scones!

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If there’s one breakfast treat that’s absolutely perfect for preparing ahead, it’s scones. The secret is freezing them at the point where they’re shaped, but not yet baked, the obverse of bake and freeze – freeze and bake scones.

Freeze and bake scones via @kingarthurflour

Days (or weeks) later, when you’re hurrying to make an early breakfast, simply pop those frozen gems into the oven, and within 20 minutes you’re serving hot scones, ready for butter and jam.

Let’s see how to make freeze and bake scones.

I’ll start with one of my favorite recipes: Harvest Pumpkin Scones. I’ve added some pumpkin spice chips to the dough – just because.

Freeze and bake scones via @kingarthurflour

For purposes of testing I divide the dough into six pieces, rather than the usual two. The rounds are still 3/4″ tall, though, which will yield what I consider an optimally thick scone: about 1 1/2″.

Freeze and bake scones via @kingarthurflourI brush the top of the scones with milk, and sprinkle with sparkling sugar. Then I cut each round into four wedges. For larger rounds, you’d cut six to eight wedges.

Freeze and bake scones via @kingarthurflour

I tent the scones with plastic wrap, and freeze until solid, which will take a couple of hours.

Freeze and bake scones via @kingarthurflour

Once frozen, I wrap each round tightly in freezer wrap…

Freeze and bake scones via @kingarthurflour

…then bag the rounds as airtight as possible. Be sure to label and date the bag – your memory’s probably not as good as you think it is!

Time marches on [calendar shedding pages, like in those old-time movies]. You decide it’s time for some hot, fresh scones.

Freeze and bake scones via @kingarthurflour

Transfer however many scones you want to a baking sheet. Parchment reduces cleanup to zero. For crisp-sided scones, separate the wedges as pictured above. For softer scones, leave the wedges close together.

Preheat your oven; the scones will thaw a bit while the oven heats.

Bake the scones for however long the recipe calls for, adding a couple of minutes or so to the time to account for the scones being partially frozen. (Though if your oven is slow to heat, the scones may be pretty much thawed by the time they go in.)

Freeze and bake scones via @kingarthurflour

Remove fresh-baked scones from the oven; serve hot.

Now how easy was that?

Wait a minute – I hear it coming, everyone’s burning question:

How far ahead can you do this, i.e., how long can you freeze unbaked scones?

Freeze and bake scones via @kingarthurflour

Here are baked scones that had been frozen (unbaked) for 1 week (left), 2 weeks (center), and 3 weeks (right). No discernible difference in rise, right? And I can attest to their taste – all moist and tender. So you can freeze unbaked scones for at least 3 weeks without any reduction in quality.

After that, things get a bit dicey. I’ve baked scones that were in the freezer for 5 weeks, and there was definitely a diminution in rise and moisture. Thus I’d suggest freezing unbaked scones no longer than a month.

So, what if you’re one of those super-organized people who has plenty of time to make scone dough in the morning and bake it right away, without freezing? I have a suggestion: slip the pan of shaped scones into the freezer anyway – but just for about 30 minutes.

Why? Chilling hardens the scones’ fat, and time relaxes the gluten in the flour, both of which contribute to a higher rise.

Freeze and bake scones via @kingarthurflour

On the left, a scone baked directly after shaping; on the right, after 30 minutes in the freezer. See the slight difference in rise? Just as chilled chocolate chip cookie dough produces a better cookie, so does chilled scone dough make a better scone.

Now, since the summer Olympics are coming right up, I’ll close with this thought: freeze and bake scones embody the Olympic motto – faster, higher, stronger yummier!

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Brittany Toft

    I would like to do this with fresh peach scones. Will this alter the fresh fruit or possibly create a too wet scone after freezing?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Brittany! The texture of the peaches will be softer in the finished scones, but that’s not a deal breaker. Bake them right out of the freezer and the extra juices shouldn’t cause any noticeable problems. You’ll likely have to bake them a couple extra minutes since they’re going in frozen, and we’d recommend sticking another sheet tray underneath to catch any potential drips. Happy baking! Annabelle@KAF

  2. Jeni

    Hi, I have just tried freeze/bake scones. Made and froze them yesterday, baked a couple today – but they are struggling to cook without burning. What’s your recommended temperature for baking them from frozen? Why do scones need such a hot oven? I usually make small scones and they are risen and cooked within maybe 12-15 minutes, even the bigger scones I made yesterday are burning at the edges by 15 mins even though they’re not fully risen or cooked through.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Jeni. If that temperature seems too high in your oven, feel free to lower it by 25°F. The higher temperature is key to getting a nice high rising scone as it allows the butter to create steam, giving you those lovely flaky layers. You can also always tent your pan with foil if the tops are golden brown but they haven’t fully baked in the center. Annabelle@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sure thing, Megan. Let the scones cool completely and then store them in a ziplock bag or airtight container for up to one month in the freezer. Thaw at room temperature for a few hours and then reheat in the oven (or toaster oven) before serving for best results. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  3. Gloria Culver

    Can’t I mix the dry ingredients and butter in a food processor and store in a freezer bag and then add egg and cream when I am ready to bake them??

    Reply
  4. gap

    For shaped scones, I do the short freeze as described in the Pumpkin Scone recipe and I like the result. Is freezing still useful/desirable if baking scones in a pan? I just purchased the mini-scone pan and am wondering what effect that chilled PAN has on the scones as they bake.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You’ll want to take care if you freeze scone dough in the pan that you intend to bake them in because not all pans can go from the fridge/freezer and into a hot oven. (This can cause thermal shock and result in the pan breaking.) The Mini Scone Pan is made from heavy-duty cast aluminum, but you probably don’t need to take the time to chill the dough when baking in the pan. Chilling can help the scones hold their shape when baking them free-form on a baking sheet, but the scone pan will help hold the shape of the dough instead. We hope that helps clarify, and happy baking! Kye@KAF

  5. Karen

    425 Degrees 12-15 minutes is what my recipe says for a product that hasn’t been frozen. If I freeze them before baking and pull them out an hour ahead how long would you recommend I bake them and at what temperature? Thank you, and happy Thanksgiving.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Karen, even when baked straight from frozen, we’d still bake at the same temp, simply adding a few minutes to account for their frozen state. If they’ve been thawed for an hour, chances are good that they’ll take just about the same amount of time as they do when they haven’t been frozen first. Happy baking! Mollie@KAF

  6. Joanna

    Making ahead is a great idea. How many recipes (double, triple…even more) can we make at one time and still have delicious scones?

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid

      Hi, Joanna. That depends on the size of what bowls you have around; I would suggest staying to double batches and doing that more than once if you’re really feeding a crowd. Susan

  7. Jamie

    I don’t normally brush my scones with a wash, but I currently have some in the freezer that I would like make a little prettier for serving. Can I apply a wash to frozen scones right before they go in the oven, or is it too late for that? Thank you!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Yes, it’s the perfect time Jamie. Washes should be applied to scones right before they go into the oven. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

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