American Classics: Fried Scones

When polling my friends for their favorite regional sweets, one of my pals from Utah mentioned loving "fried scones." Fried Scones. The very name brings to mind what might happen if you gave Brits access to the best of Paula Deen's archives. I'll admit I was immediately skeptical. I have respect for a good scone, but the honest truth is that most scones are bone dry and not terribly tasty. Fortunately a fried scone is not really a scone at all—it's more of a yeasted doughnut drenched in cinnamon-laced honey butter. And I'd be hard pressed to find anything wrong with that.

Once you get past the name, fried scones are an easy breakfast or brunchtime sweet that can be whipped up in less time than their doughnut brethren. While yeast raised doughnuts generally call for two rises, fried scones only need one and still turn out plump, puffy, and pleasing. While the shape can vary from triangle to square to freeform (some places even make them as big as a dinner plate!), as a whole they are a bit denser and chewier than Krispy Kreme fare.

The origins of the fried scone are muddled. Popular among Utah Mormons, it's thought that they might have been brought back by missionaries who worked in Navajo communities because of their similarities to Native American fry bread. With their often rustic appearance and simple ingredient list, another theory is that they were introduced by the pioneers during the westward expansion. Whatever their provenance, so loved are these scones in Utah that there's even a 24-hour fast food chain called The Sconecutter that's been serving up hot scones (white or wheat, solo or as the base for a variety of sandwich fillings) since the late 70s. My friend recalled her first Sconecutter visit saying, "The first time I ate one, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven."

While you can make fried scones from refrigerated or frozen yeast roll dough, making them from scratch doesn't require that much more effort. Sprinkle them with powdered sugar or, better yet, drizzle them with a cinnamony browned honey butter. Like most fried foods, these scones don't keep well, but fortunately they also don't last long, especially when prepared for a hungry crowd.