How to make Nancy Birtwhistle’s lemon and caraway scones

These delicious scones from the former Great British Bake Off champion are absolutely delicious and perfectly timed for summer.

Only in Britain could something as utterly marvellous as ‘The Cream Tea Society‘ exist. Yes, they were founded by a pair of companies with vested interest in people eating more scones (specifically Wilkin & Sons Tiptree jams and Rodda’s Cornish Clotted Cream).  

But they give plenty back, supporting this culinary tradition and providing 50,000 cream teas to charity each year; and now they’re giving something back in the form of this lovely recipe ahead of ‘National Cream Tea Day’ which is on Friday June 30. It comes from Great British Bake Off winner Nancy Birtwhistle…

Nancy Birtwhistle’s lemon and caraway scones

A well made scone is light, springy and delicious.  They are best served fresh and eaten the same day.  The recipe below therefore is for just six scones – you need to eat them all in one sitting.

I always make scones by hand and the secret of success with scone baking is to not have the mix too dry, try not to over handle plus you need a very hot oven.

These scones are sublime – flavoured conservatively with lemon and caraway seed.  My inspiration for this recipe came from the lemon and caraway seed cake my grandmother used to make.

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Nancy Birtwhistle scones


  • 225g self raising flour
  • 45g salted butter
  • 35g caster sugar
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 130ml whole milk
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract


Firstly, in a dry frying pan toast the seeds gently for a minute or two just to extract the nutty flavour contained within.  Don’t burn them or they will be bitter.

In a medium mixing bowl grate the zest from the lemon.  Place the milk in a small jug or glass then squeeze the lemon juice into it (the lemon should yield about 20ml) and set aside to thicken and curdle.

Place the self raising flour into the bowl containing the zest then add the softened butter and using your finger tips rub the mix together until it resembles breadcrumbs.  Stir in the sugar and toasted seeds.

Add the vanilla extract to the milk mixture then add sufficient to bind the dough together.  I use a knife initially then my hands.  The dough needs to be just sticky, not too wet that you cant handle it and not too dry.

Turn out onto a lightly floured worktop then smooth out using a rolling pin or simply the palm of your hand.   The dough needs to be quite thick – about 1.5cm.  Using a 7cm cutter dipped in flour to prevent the dough sticking, cut out six scones.  You will need to reuse the trimmings.

Place your scones on a baking sheet lined with non stick parchment then pop them into the fridge.

Heat your oven to 225° C and when your oven has reached its temperature take your scones from the fridge and if you have any milk mix left, give them a little brush just on the tops.  Avoid letting any run down the sides as this will impede the rising.

Pop straight into the hot oven and bake for 10-12 minutes until well risen and golden.  Do not overbake – the base of your scone should be golden brown not dark brown or black !

Cool on wire trays and serve the same day – with jam and a dollop of clotted cream.

The Cream Tea Society is a community that shares in the love and enjoyment of this popular pastime, dating back to the 1840s. Free to join, it has been founded by Wilkin & Sons Tiptree and Rodda’s Cornish Clotted Cream. They are also pledging up to 50,000 portions of jam and clotted cream to give to charity cream tea events.

Head to the website ( for more information on cream tea traditions, including a wealth of historical facts, etiquette guidelines, recipes and serving suggestions.