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!

If there’s one thing we’re absolutely devoted to here at King Arthur Flour, it’s solving your baking challenges. Our bakers are ready to help you every day via our baker’s hotline, live chat, and email.

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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. Peter Van Erp

    I just used this, and they came put great (KA recipe for Classic Scones, with egg, yogurt and milk as the liquid).
    Yet another reason to praise KAF!

    Reply
  2. Tom

    Perfect! I had just started my search for baked goods that I could make and freeze at home, then transport in a cooler to our church Family Camp (more like glamping – we have a cabin with a kitchen). I would like to be able to provide fresh stuff without lugging my stand mixer, and I haven’t had good results making/freezing/baking cinnamon rolls. Thanks!

    Reply
  3. Artist Elaine

    I’m sorry if this question has already been asked; I’m about to run out the door to an appointment so didn’t read through all. Does this method work well with most any scone recipe? Pumpkin scones don’t appeal to me, but I have many other recipes I love to use and what a great method this would be to have them fresh whenever the mood strikes! Thank you for your help!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Yes — this method works with other scone recipes aside from just pumpkin. Give your favorite scone recipe a try using this approach and see how you like the results. You might find you prefer the craggly texture! Kye@KAF

  4. cynthia voskamp

    Thank you for sharing the tip. It is such a time saver for mornings.
    If I plan on baking the scones the next morning, do I have to freeze or would refrigerating overnight work? Thank you for your reply.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We like the texture that comes as a result of freezing your scones, so we’d recommend popping them in the freezer if you have room. If you don’t, not to worry — they’ll be just fine in the fridge overnight. In either case, wrap the dough tightly with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  5. Cynthia

    Can this dough made sooner than the night before? I’m hosting a bridal shower brunch for my cousin, and would love to include these – but I’m trying to get anything and everything possible done early so that I have less to stress about the night before (after I get out of work…)

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We see you found the info you were looking for; we found that scones made up to 3 weeks in advance were practically just as perfect as scones made and baked right away. Enjoy the bridal shower! Kye@KAF

  6. June

    Can I freeze scones made out of KA scone mix? I’m having a baby shower and would like to prep as much before hand as possible!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You sure can, June! It often times actually makes the scones a bit flakier in texture as a result. Just be sure to wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap to keep it from drying out. Enjoy the shower! Kye@KAF

  7. Al F.

    I used this method to prepare my scones the night before and toss them in the oven in the AM. It worked great, thank you. I wonder though, if you were prepping scones for the next morning, would you bother to wrap them at all ?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      It’s important to wrap unbaked scone dough in plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out and also to keep any other flavors from sneaking into your dough. Wrapping is a must! Kye@KAF

  8. Gayle Schild, WA

    Another great idea! I love scones too. Freezing them sounds like a wonderful tip. Thank you.

    Reply

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