Where do I ever begin describing these Lemon Basil Scones? "Simple perfection" is a good start! They are best of both worlds: crunchy on the top and soft and fluffy in the middle. Perfection!
I remember the first time I had a scone many years ago. I was expecting something on the dry side because of the way it looked. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised at how soft and fluffy it was on the inside. It reminded me of a combination of a biscuit and a really good muffin.
I thought for sure there was some super-hard technique to get such a great texture and I didn't attempt to make them until years later. One morning I just decided I wanted blueberry scones. I looked up a few recipes and they sounded like a biscuit recipe, pretty much. I was hesitant, but committed to having blueberry scones, so I gave it a go. Delicious & Easy! I was hooked.
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So, the other day I had a few lemons that I had to use and tons of basil, so I decided to test my scone making ability and make these lemon basil scones in the Ninja Foodi. Delicious x 5! Easy x 10! I'm re-hooked on both scones and the Ninja Foodi!
What is a Scone?
In case you are not familiar with scones, they are a quick bread or pastry that has similar ingredients of a biscuit, but their texture is softer and more crumbly rather than flaky. This might lead you to believe that they are dry and crumbly, but when done right they are not dry at all. In fact, they are... wait, I have to jump up and get one so I can describe it to you.
Okay, I'm back. They are soft and fluffy like a cake and ever so crumbly like cornbread (not dry) with a crust like a biscuit, but sweet. Simply put, they are perfection!
Scones can be either drop scones or formed scones. In this Lemon Basil Scone Recipe, we are forming the scones into a 7" round and cutting into wedges before baking. You can also drop heaping tablespoons of dough on a cookie sheet or in an 8" cake pan for drop scones. I prefer the look of wedges, so that is the method I'm using in this recipe, but either method will work just fine.
What to serve with Lemon Basil Scones
Honestly, these lemon basil scones are so delicious you don't need anything but a hot cup of coffee, tea or... nothing! I just ate one (of course, only so I could accurately describe it for you) and it was perfect all by itself.
My favorite topping for these lemon basil scones is strawberry basil preserves. The flavors pair so nicely together. You can use any kind of preserves or jam of course, but if you want to make some delicious strawberry basil jam, you can watch how I do it right here ⇒ Strawberry Basil Preserves.
Clotted cream is another traditional topping for scones. If you aren't familiar with clotted cream it might sound weird to you, but it is similar in consistency to cream cheese or whipped butter and it has a similar taste to unsweetened whipped cream. At least that is what I've read. I have never tried to make it, but now that I've read up on it... I think I will make it in the Ninja Foodi!
Have you had or made clotted cream? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this as I embark on this 3-day journey of making clotted cream! In the meantime, here is a recipe I found if you want to get started on making clotted cream: Homemade Clotted Cream
Can I use Dried Basil in this Recipe for Lemon Basil Scones?
I wouldn't. I haven't tried it, but I don't think dried basil is going to give you the right basil flavor like fresh does. The fresh basil pairs so well with the lemon, I do hope you find some fresh basil.
Any type of fresh basil will work. I used a combination of three different types I had on hand; Sweet Basil, Thai Basil, and Pesto Basil. The blend of all three worked perfectly, but using one kind will be great too!
If you don't have, or can't find fresh basil, I would skip it all together. The scones will be still be delicious!
Can I Add Different Ingredients to my Scones?
Of course! If you aren't a fan of lemon and you want a different flavor combination, you can customize this recipe however you want.
A few things to keep in mind when adding different ingredients.
Moisture content: If you wanted to add in blueberries (fresh or frozen), I would decrease the heavy whipping cream by a tablespoon or two to allow for the extra moisture from the blueberries. If your blueberries are frozen, do not thaw them before adding into the scone dough.
Amount: You don't want to add in too much. A total of ½ cup of any add in is plenty in this recipe.
Suggestions for variations of this lemon basil scone recipe:
Chocolate chips: I would freeze them before adding
Rosemary: Scones can be savory too!
The list goes on and on! Do you have a favorite flavor combination for scones? Let me know in the comments and I'll add it to the list!
Tips for Making Scones
Make sure your butter is very cold. Grating the butter and freezing it is recommended. If you don't have a grater, you can cut the butter into very small pieces, but grating works the best in this recipe.
Frozen butter will incorporate quicker into your flour and create those crumbles faster so you don't overwork the dough which can lead to a tough scone.
Using frozen butter also keeps the butter solid until the scones go into the oven. This helps prevent too much spreading of your scones. When the butter melts in the oven, it creates steam which forms pockets in the dough that lead to those glorious layers of tender scones.
Keep your cream & egg in the fridge until use. This also helps preven over spreading.
Don't overwork the dough. This is the second most important tip (frozen butter is first). You'll want to handle the dough only until it comes together and then stop. If you overwork the dough, you can end up with a tough scone. Over-handling the dough can also cause the butter to melt before it makes it way into the oven.
Preheat the Ninja Foodi for 10 minutes. You want the Ninja Foodi hot so your scones start to bake and rise immediately for a nice soft and light texture.
Adjust the heat according to how your scones are looking. The baking times and temperature for this recipe have varied during my multiple testing processes. The timing has been between 18 and 22 minutes. I always start off baking at 350°F for 15 minutes. After that, I check on the scones every 3-5 minutes to see how brown the tops are getting and I use a cake tester to check doneness underneath. If the scones need to cook longer, but are getting too brown on top I decrease the heat to 300-325°F.
How to Make Lemon Basil Scones
If you would rather watch me make these scones and follow along, here is the video: Lemon Basil Scones
The first thing you want to do is grate the butter into a glass bowl using a regular sized grater, like this one. Then, freeze the butter for at least 30 minutes.
While the butter is freezing, gather all of your other ingredients (except the egg and heavy cream) and measure them out. This will allow you pull the dough together quickly.
Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. I like to use a fine sieve strainer for this, but you can use a flour/sugar sifter if you have one.
Add in the baking powder, sugar and salt. Stir to combine.
In a small mixing bowl, combine heavy whipping cream, 1 egg, the zest from 2 lemons and 1 tsp of lemon extract. Lightly mix to combine.
Remove the butter from the freezer and dump it into the flour mixture. Use a pastry cutter (I love this one from Pampered Chef) or two forks to combine the butter with the flour mixture. You will start to see little pebbles form and it will become a course texture.
Make a well in the center and pour in the liquid ingredients. Mix just until the liquid is combined with the flour mixture. Don't over mix.
Add in chopped basil and fold to incorporated.
Dump the mixture onto a clean work surface. The dough will be very loose and crumbly.
Push the dough down and away from you, then fold back towards you, grabbing any loose flour you can. Turn 90 degrees and push the dough away from you again and fold back toward you. Do this until all the loose crumbly mixture forms into a dough.
It will be sticky at first, but if it is too sticky add just a touch of flour. Not too much, though.
Preheat the Ninja Foodi on bake roast at 350°F
Once the dough comes together, place it in a 7" pan lined with plastic wrap. If you don't have a 7" pan, you can just form a disc and eyeball the size. You don't want the disc to be too big or your cake pan will be too crowded and not allow room for rising and a little spreading.
Remove the plastic wrap with the dough and cut into 8 equal wedges. Place the wedges on a parchment lined plate and refrigerate for 15 minutes to 1 hour. You can also freeze the wedges if you don't want to cook them right away. You don't want to keep them in the refrigerator too long.
*Baking Powder begins to work as a rising agent when it is combined with liquid. We want it to work during the baking process and not in the fridge and prolonged refrigeration might interfere with this.
Brush each wedge with heavy cream and sprinkle Demerara Sugar on top of each one. This step is optional, but it adds such a nice crunch to the top I hope you give it a try. Demerara Sugar can be found in most grocery stores or you can find in on Amazon.
Put the cake pan on the rack in the low position and bake on 350° F for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, open the TenderCrisp lid and run a cake tester or another utensil that is safe for the pan you are using around the edges of the scones where they have risen and spread together. You should still see some wet dough on the cake tester.
Decrease the heat to 325° F and cook for another 3 minutes and check them again. If the tops are getting too brown, but the cake tester still has wet dough on it. Decrease the heat to 300° F and bake for another 3-5 minutes. The baking time varied during my testing of this recipe from 18 minutes to 22 minutes. Keep in mind that the scone will continue to cook some as it cools.
Remove from cake pan and serve!
I like to put some fresh strawberry basil preserves on mine, what will you put on yours? Let me know in the comments!
Lemon Basil Scones
- Grate the cold butter with a box grater and place in the freezer for 15-30 minutes.
- Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add baking powder, sugar, salt. Mix
- In a small mixing bowl add 1 egg, ½ cup heavy whipping cream, 1 tsp lemon extract, and the zest of 2 lemons.
- Using a pastry cutter or two forks, cut the frozen butter into the flour mixture until it resembles course crumbles.
- Pour in liquid mixture and stir to combine. Don't over stir.
- Add in chopped basil and stir to combine, don't over stir.
- Dump the mixture onto a cutting board. It will be loose at this point. Press the dough down and then fold back towards you, incorporating the loose flour mixture. Turn and repeat until a soft dough is formed. If your dough is too sticky, you can add a bit more flour. Don't over work the dough, we don't want the butter to melt.
- When all the loose dough is incorporated the dough should be soft, but not tacky. If the dough is sticking to your hands, add a Tbsp at a time of flour and fold it in until the dough is no longer sticky.
- Form a 7" disc. You can use a 7" pizza pan or springform pan lined with plastic wrap or just eyeball it. Cut into 8 wedges and put on a parchment lined plate. Refrigerate for 15 minutes to 1 hour.
- Preheat the Ninja Foodi on 350° for 10 minutes. Remove the scones from the refrigerator, brush with heavy cream, sprinkle with demerara sugar, and place them into a lightly buttered 8" cake pan. Bake in the Ninja Foodi on the rack in the low position for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, run a cake tester along the sides of the wedges. Decrease the temp on the bake/roast to 325° F and continue to bake for an additional 3-7 minutes. If you notice the tops are getting too brown and the inside is still wet, decrease the temp to 300° F.
- Remove, run the cake tester around all the edges and in between each scone. Allow to cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. The longer you let them cool, the easier they will be to remove from the pan. Run a cake tester along the edges and in between each scone. Serve and Enjoy!
ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR, LOUISE LONG
Louise is a full-time recipe creator and food blogger @ The Salted Pepper. She has over 30 years of experience with cooking and recipe development. She owned a restaurant for several years and was a full-time RN until retiring to blog full time.
Louise has several very active Facebook groups that help people with the basics of cooking and getting the most out of the Ninja Foodi.
Seeing the need for easy, delicious, and high quality recipes, she is focusing all of her efforts creating recipes specifically for the Ninja Foodi. Her recipes are easy for the home cook to follow and provide step-by-step instructions.
Louise is also a YouTube creator and you can find most of her recipes in video format on The Salted Pepper YouTube channel.
She is very responsive to messages and eager to help in any way she can.