Belinda Jeffery

Fluffy Date & Buttermilk Scones

These are my all-time favourite scones. They really do live up to their name as they’re very light and fluffy, and have a lovely ‘wheaty’ flavour from the wholemeal flour. My favourite way of all to eat them is to use lots of big chunks of date in the dough, and serve them warm with butter and a really good pot of tea. It’s a hard-to-beat combination (although a little jam and cream doesn’t go amiss either!)

  • Makes 18-20 scones.


  • 2 cups (300g) self-raising flour
  • 2 cups (320g) wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 1/4 cup (55g) caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 160g cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
  • 250g pitted dates, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups (500ml) buttermilk
  • Flour, for dusting

Preheat your oven to 200C. Dust a sturdy baking sheet with flour and set it aside. (If you don’t have a heavy baking sheet, you can use a lightweight one but line it with a double thickness of baking paper so the bottoms of the scones don’t burn.)

Put the flours, the sugar and salt into a large bowl. Whisk them together with a balloon whisk for a minute so they’re thoroughly combined and aerated. Scatter the little chunks of butter over the top, and use your fingers to rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. (If you like, you can make this step faster by using a food processor – I certainly do; then just tip the resulting mixture into a big bowl.)

Add the dates and toss them about so they’re well coated. Now, make a well in the centre of this mixture. Pour in the buttermilk and stir it in very lightly until the mixture starts to come together into a somewhat sticky dough. Turn this mixture out onto a floured board and knead it gently until it’s just combined – don’t overdo this, or the scones will be a bit heavy and tough; they love a light touch. Pat it out into a 4-5cm thick round. Dip a scone-cutter or small tumbler into some flour to stop the dough sticking to it, then stamp out the scones, dunking the cutter back into the flour between each one. Gently knead together any scraps and cut them again.

Sit the scones closely together on the prepared baking sheet and dust them very lightly with flour. Put the tray in the oven and bake the scones for about 20 minutes, until they’re golden and smell divine. When they’re ready, remove them from the oven and immediately wrap them in a clean tea towel – this helps trap the steam in the scones, which makes them extra-light and moist. Leave them for 5 minutes, then serve them with butter, or lashings of jam and cream.