Filed Under: Baking Science | How To

How to Make TALL Scones & Biscuits

By Tessa Arias
  |  
May 5th, 2022

Struggling with flat scones or biscuits? Here’s everything you need to know about how to bake TALL scones and biscuits that rise higher with those ultra flaky layers.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you might have noticed that I’m slightly obsessed with making baked goods as thick, tall, and beautiful as possible. Like they came straight out of a bakery.

There was the time I experimented with the secret techniques to getting super THICK cookies every time. Because who wants sad, flat cookie puddles?!

Or even that time I shared 3 easy tips for baking TALL bakery-style muffins.

If you know me at all, you know I fully believe baking is a SCIENCE. And the best way to quickly and easily learn that science is through mouth-watering visuals.

So today, I’m sharing the sweet science behind getting TALL scones and biscuits that rise as high as possible with those amazing flaky layers (tons of instructional photos included below!).

How to Make Tall Scones and Biscuits

Why are my biscuits flat? Why are my scones flat?

One quick reason is that your baking powder and/or baking soda are expired. Most scone and biscuit recipes call for quite a large amount of leavening, and if either are expired, your scones simply won’t rise to beautiful heights. You can learn more about the science of baking soda and baking powder here, as well as how to test them for freshness.

The second reason scones can bake up flat is due to how they’re shaped, which we discuss in detail just below.

Why should you not over knead the biscuit or scone dough?

Over-kneading your dough will result in scones and biscuits that are tough, dense, or rubbery. The longer you knead the dough, the stronger the gluten network will be. We want just enough gluten for the scones to hold their shape, but not so much that we sacrifice the light and flaky texture.

Over-kneading your dough also increases the chance of your butter getting too warm. Keep reading to learn why that can cause all sorts of problems!

Use COLD butter for biscuits and scones!

The top tip for flaky scones and biscuits is that the butter must be COLD from start to when the dough enters the oven. The cold butter melts upon entering the heat of the oven and the water content in butter evaporates in steam. As the steam escapes, it bursts up and creates that beautiful tall, flaky, fluffy texture. I like to cube then freeze my butter before assembling the dough.

I also always prefer to use unsalted butter for baking. You can find out why here: Salted vs. Unsalted Butter.

How to make my biscuits and scones rise higher?

Laminate your scone dough!

A little bit of lamination gets the scones to shoot up sky high with tons of flaky layers. Don’t worry, it sounds more complicated than it actually is.

comparison of laminated vs unlaminated scones for how to get tall flaky scones that rise high

Here’s how to laminate your scone or biscuit dough:

  1. If adding any mix-ins, fold into dough prior to step 2.
  2. Turn the craggly mass of dough out onto your work surface.
  3. Shape it into a rectangle.
  4. Fold the rectangle horizontally in thirds, like you’re folding a piece of paper to go into an envelope (see photo below).
  5. Flatten it out into a rectangle again.
  6. Now fold it in thirds once more, but going the opposite direction. This will also help you to gently ‘knead’ the dough so it comes together into a more cohesive disk without overmixing it. Overmixing leads to rubbery and tough scones and biscuits.
Envelope fold of raw biscuit dough as a part of the laminating process
Rectangle of raw biscuit dough

Ingredients that help scones rise with flaky layers:

  • Layers and pockets of cold butter
  • Baking powder and baking soda
  • Clean knife cuts when shaping the dough
  • High oven temperature

What’s the difference between biscuits and scones?

The reason the same technique is used for achieving beautiful heights for both recipes is because they’re very similar. They both use the ‘biscuit method’ for forming the dough which refers to the technique of cutting cold butter into dry ingredients.

In fact, making pie dough is very much the same technique, and I use the lamination trick above in my Best Ever Pie Crust recipe too!

The main differences between biscuits and scones are that unlike biscuits, scones typically have an egg and more sugar in the dough. Generally, biscuits tend to have more butter. Some scone recipes are made with cream instead of buttermilk. These small differences result in varying tastes and textures, but both are equally delicious!

Love the science of baking? Check out all my baking experiments HERE.

Scone recipes to try:

Biscuit recipes you’ll love:

Photos by Joanie Simon | The Bite Shot and Ashley McLaughlin.

Tessa Arias
Author: Tessa Arias

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Tessa Arias

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

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  1. #
    Brad Burgess — May 19, 2022 at 7:18 am

    Tessa… You are the bomb! Thanks for sharing

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