Sunday, February 13

Recipe: Meyer Lemon Scones or Regular Lemon Scones

These oversized scones are crunchy on the outside, moist and tender inside.

In my previous California life, before I moved to the wilds of Missouri and became an enthusiastic but clueless farmgirl, I owned a little bakery cafe. I also bought and sold antiques (in order to fund my collecting habit), so I decorated the place in the 1920s-1950s vintage style I love.

There were 1940s floral print cloths on the little round tables, pretty mismatched old platters displaying goodies in the curved glass pastry case, thick white china mugs for serving the locally roasted coffee, and a variety of cheerful handmade vintage aprons tied around my waist.

I served the kind of comforting, made from scratch treats I'm always hoping to find when I walk into a bakery: giant chocolate chip cookies, chunky oatmeal walnut raisin cookies, buttery little pecan tarts, big squares of carrot cake with lots of cream cheese frosting, savory ham and sharp cheddar muffins made with a dollop of brown mustard, devil's food cake with chocolate buttercream, spicy pumpkin muffins, apple pie with streusel topping, hunks of old-fashioned sour cream pecan coffeecake.

I acquired a following of loyal British ex-pats who adored my 'traditional' currant scones, and I took it as a compliment when people would come in looking for "the little old grandmother we heard bakes everything in the back." Um, that would be 24-year-old me.

I had a friendly group of regular customers who sometimes surprised me with gifts, like freshly picked bouquets from their gardens, or a handcrafted origami holder for all the locals' coffee club punch cards. The owner of the nursery up the road once brought me a six-pack of cinnamon basil plants, which sadly never made it into my little backyard vegetable patch because I was never home long enough to plant them.

Such is the irony of the hardworking foodservice professional. I ate more takeout pizza during the time I ran that bakery than I have in the entire rest of my life.

Meyer Lemon Scones 2

One winter day a very nice lady named Lorraine, who loved chocolate chip cookies and hearts, presented me with a bag of freshly picked Meyer lemons from her tree. I had no idea what they were or how to use them, and I have no idea what I ended up doing with them (quite possibly nothing). But what I should have done was make them into scones.

The Meyer lemon is a natural lemon and mandarin orange hybrid, 'discovered' in China and brought to the U.S. by USDA agricultural explorer Frank Meyer in 1908. They're sweeter, less acidic, and have thinner skins than regular lemons. The fat, juicy fruits are a gorgeous dark yellow orange and have a wonderful floral scent. A pretty bowl of Meyer lemons sitting on the kitchen counter is an instant antidote if you're suffering from the winter blahs.

Meyer lemons are in season now, and while they're mostly grown on backyard trees, their rising popularity in recent years, thanks to people like Alice Waters and Martha Stewart, means they can now be found at farmers' markets in warm climates and places such as Whole Foods. If you can't get your hands on any Meyer lemons, these scones are still very nice when made with regular old lemons instead.

Meyer Lemon (or Regular Lemon) Scones
Makes 8 large scones

This recipe is a variation of the currant scones I used to sell at my bakery. They taste great plain, but you can fancy them up by adding currants or raisins and/or sprinkling coarse sugar on the tops. Butter, berry jam, and a proper pot of your favorite English tea are optional.

Oversized scones are perfect for hearty appetites or sharing with someone you love, but you can also make 12 smaller scones; just pat the dough into two circles instead of one and decrease the baking time. As always, I urge you to seek out local and organic ingredients. They really do make a difference.

Fresh baking powder is essential; if yours has been open more than a couple of months, toss it out and buy a new container. I always have good results with Rumford brand, which is aluminum free.

I highly recommend investing in a couple of heavy duty commercial rimmed baking sheets. At around $15 each, they're one of the best kitchen deals around. Treat them well—I usually line mine with sheets of unbleached parchment paper, which is wonderful stuff—and they'll last for ages. I've been using the heck out of some of mine for 20 years for everything from baking cookies to roasting Brussels sprouts.

3½ to 3¾ cups organic all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder (make sure it's fresh!)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons (or more) finely chopped or grated Meyer lemon or regular lemon zest, rubbed with a little sugar to bring out the flavor

1/2 cup (1 stick/4 ounces) organic butter, chilled & cut into small pieces
1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice (from about 2 Meyer lemons) or regular lemon juice
1/2 cup organic milk, preferably whole
2 Tablespoons yogurt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Optional egg glaze:
1 egg and 2 Tablespoons milk, beaten well with a fork
Coarse sugar, such as turbinado, for sprinkling on top

Optional addition:
3/4 cup currants or organic raisins

Heat the oven to 400°.

In a large bowl, combine 3½ cups of the flour, the sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and Meyer lemon zest. Using a fork, pastry blender, or your fingers, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it forms coarse crumbles with some larger pea-sized chunks. Add the currants or raisins if using and toss gently until combined.

In a small bowl or large measuring cup, combine the Meyer lemon juice, milk, yogurt, eggs, and vanilla and beat with a fork until blended.

Gently fold the milk mixture into the dry ingredients, mixing lightly with a rubber spatula just until blended. Add up to 1/4 cup additional flour if it's too sticky to work with.

On a floured surface, gently pat the dough into a 1-inch thick circle (about 9 inches in diameter). With a sharp knife (I use a large serrated knife dipped in flour), cut the circle into 8 wedges and place them on a heavy duty baking sheet lined with unbleached parchment paper.

Meyer Lemon Scones 4

Use a pastry brush to cover the tops and sides of the scones with the egg glaze if desired, sprinkle with coarse sugar if desired, and bake until golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Meyer Lemon Scones 5

Cool the scones on a wire rack. Serve warm, or cool completely and store in an airtight container or freeze. Defrost at room temperature, or put frozen scones directly in the oven to reheat. I heat them in my convection toaster oven, wrapped in foil for the first several minutes so they don't get too brown on the outside, and then unwrapped so they crisp up nicely.

Did I mention I'm a sconehead?
Savory Feta Cheese and Scallion Scones (made with cream cheese instead of butter)
Cranberry Christmas Scones (tasty any time of year!)

Still hungry? You'll find links to all my Less Fuss, More Flavor sweet and savory recipes in the Farmgirl Fare recipe index.

©, the citrus kissed foodie farm blog where it's always a good time to enjoy a homemade scone—and if I'm ever lucky enough to be given a bag of Meyer lemons again, I'm going to work my way down this mouthwatering list.


  1. Love,love LOVE meyer lemon! What beautiful photos! I am making these today. Also looking forward to the recipe for ham & cheddar muffins (yum!), mentioned in this post, but I can't find it...
    Thanks for getting me through another Nebraska farmland winter-your blog never fails to cheer me up! Barb.

  2. I started making my own baking powder - small batches means it is always fresh. 2 parts cream of tarter + 1 part baking soda + 1/2-1 part cornstarch (to keep it from clumping) Easy and other's are impressed!!!

  3. Susan - I just found your blog and absolutely love it! I don't know how you manage to get it all done. Although we live in an agricultural area in Maryland with at least five local grocery stores, sadly there's no danger of finding Meyer lemons in any of them. I once had a dwarf tree in a large pot that managed one impressive crop (took the best part of a year) before it finally croaked, mostly from my neglect. So it is possible to grow them at home in a very sunny window and take them outside in the summer. The flowers smell heavenly, but spider mites can be a problem when they are indoors. Insecticidal soap spray takes care of that.

  4. Absolutely delicious...thank you!

  5. I just received an order of Meyer lemons in the mail after reading about them on another blog. I will be trying these scones. YUM!! I am in central Missouri and I am sick of cold and snow. It is finally warming up this week.
    Thanks for your great blog.

  6. Thanks for the timely recipe. I bought some meyer lemons at our farmers market and was looking for a good use.
    And I always love your farm photos since my farm lacks critters.

  7. My step-dad grows meyers. I'll have to stop in and see if I can get some from him.

  8. Grow your own Meyer Lemon Tree in a pot! Mine produces about 3 dozen lemons a year in Tennessee! I LOVE MY MEYER LEMON TREE!

  9. Your scones look lovely! I understand the love of meyer lemons. I went to California recently and was given a bunch of meyer lemons from a friend's tree. I carried them all the way home to Massachusetts!

  10. Great recipe! I made these for a birthday brunch the day before, cut them and laid them out but didnt bake them. I froze the dough on the cookie sheets and the next morning, put them (undefrosted) in the oven. They came out incredible! I dont have Meyer Lemons, but I used Penzey's lemon rind (reconstituted it) and added a bit more than you called for. They were delish! thanks for posting.

  11. I made these scones this morning with the meyer lemons.... What a great recipe! Very light and moist. I decided to do a Lemon sugar glaze over these after baking them instead of the egg wash and sprinkling the sugar on top. Truly delightful. Thank you so much for sharing.

  12. What does it mean to rub the zest with sugar? Thanks!

    1. Hi Allison,
      My apologies for the delayed reply. Just take a little bit of sugar and rub it into the zest with your fingers - it's totally optional but will help bring out the lemon flavor, kind of like how mashing salt into garlic when you're mincing it helps bring out the flavor of the garlic. :)

  13. My mouth is watering just thinking about a taste. Thank you!

  14. I've now made these and your Christmas Cranberry Scones. Awesome! Both are literally the best scones I have ever made. You are scone queen.

  15. I found this recipe via Google, and I'm a new fan to your blog! Here's my post on it:
    Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge!

    1. Hi Gesci,
      Welcome to the farm! Your scones are beautiful. I'm so glad you enjoyed the recipe. :)

  16. Delicious and easy to make!


December 2015 update: Hi! For some reason I can't figure out, Blogger hasn't been letting me leave comments on my own blog (!) for the last several months, so I've been unable to respond to your comments and questions. My apologies for any inconvenience! You're always welcome to email me: farmgirlfare AT gmail DOT com.

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