Sunday Scones

Scones at Osler House, Dundas, Ontario (Photo by Andrew Evans, NG)

I’ve never posted a recipe before.

Perhaps it’s rather old-ladylike of me, but please understand: I lived in England for four years and despite many delicious scones, none of them compared to the one I just discovered here in Ontario.

See, good food and good travel go hand in hand. Whatever we eat on our journey represents that place, its produce, heritage, culture, local flavor, and local knowledge.

Ontario’s rich cuisine may not hold the iconic status of say, Italian or Mexican food; nonetheless, Canadian kitchens do represent a creative blend of old world tastes with new world inventiveness.

While visiting the city of Hamilton, I stayed at Osler House, a very Victorian bed-and-breakfast in the leafy nearby town of Dundas. While the house is dripping in sterling silver, antique crystal, fine upholstery, and some impressive original heirlooms, Osler House lacks any sense of stuffiness. The finer things are there for the sake of comfort and to be enjoyed for their aesthetic value.

So it was with these fluffy scones that were served to me as part of a most elaborate breakfast spectacle. They were kind of irresistible, and so I ate one, then another . . . and so on. They were delicious and I shamelessly demanded the recipe so that I could attempt to preserve this lovely moment in pastry.

Gary Fincham, owner and manager of Osler House, kindly handed over his recipe, which he claims to have modified from one he pulled out of a newspaper long ago. His two big secrets of scone success are 1) using buttermilk (instead of the more obvious cream), and 2) blending the pastry with his fingers as opposed to a blender.

I won’t confess how many of these delights I gobbled on-site, but if you bake a batch yourself, then I’m sure you’ll get a much clearer idea. I might also add that they’re marvelous with melted butter and a bit of raspberry jam.

Recipe after the jump.

Osler House Cranberry-Apricot Buttermilk Scones

3 cups         All-purpose flour

1/3 cup       Granulated sugar

2 1/2 tsp     Baking powder

1 tsp             Baking soda

3/4 tsp        Salt

3/4 cup       Unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces

1/4 cup       Dried cranberries

1/4 cup       Dried apricots

1/4 cup       Buttermilk


2 oz             Unsalted butter

1/4              Coarse sugar (Gary uses Demerara)

1. In a large bowl, combine flours, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter with pastry blender or fingers until the dough breaks up into tiny bits. Leave a few larger pieces to create flakiness.

2. Toss in cranberries and apricots and add buttermilk. Mix with fork just until all ingredients are moistened. Gather dough into a ball and knead briefly.

3. Divide dough into two separate balls, pat or roll on a floured work surface until they are in a circle approximately 3/4 of an inch high. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with the coarse sugar. Cut into triangles and place on ungreased cookie sheet.

4. Bake at 425° F for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden.


  1. Ancient Cook
    June 19, 2011, 11:01 pm

    ps: One of the secrets of good scones is to re-grind the sugar in a blender. Why? Because the sugar used in the UK is a bit finer than in North America but is not the same thing as Icing Sugar.

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  3. Allison Reid
    Ottawa, Ontario
    June 22, 2011, 10:04 am

    Enjoying your missives, and can almost taste those delicous scones! Looking forward to meeting you in person when you come our way!

  4. Gary Fincham
    Osler House, Dundas Ontario
    July 13, 2011, 4:28 pm

    I have just noticed two mistakes in this recipe! First, there should be 1/2 tsp of baking soda in the list of ingredients, and the amount of buttermilk should be 1 cup!!!