Since I shared a handful of my favorite scone recipes (chocolate, lemon-blueberry, and savory ham 'n cheese), a lot of folks have been asking: How well do they freeze?
Years spent working in tiny restaurants and bakeries with next to no freezer space mean I've learned to rock an ultra-fresh ethos, so I wasn't able to speak from experience. My instinctive thought was expansion would be inhibited in the cold, hard dough, limiting its ability to rise. But longtime reader Ananonnie assured me that frozen scones behave quite well, so I wanted to put my recipe to the test.
For the control, I opted for a batch of my basic chocolate scones, mostly because I wanted to eat them. The wheel of dough started out just under an inch thick; after baking, the scones rose to about one and a quarter inches at the very edge and around one and three-quarters inches in the middle. This sort of rise gives the scones a nice, light texture that's neither cakey nor dense.
To test out how well the dough would hold up in cold storage, I prepared two more batches of scones. I rolled, cut, and wrapped both wheels in plastic, then put one in the fridge and one in the freezer, where they remained for 24 hours.
The refrigerated dough needed the same amount of time to bake, and rose about the same overall, but with a slightly deformed shape, as the edges of each wedge seemed to melt faster and droop along the way.
To my surprise, this didn't translate into any textural problems at all. The finished scones looked a bit derpy, to be sure, but they were still light, tender, and perfectly crisp on top.
Since I already knew the refrigerated dough was inclined to "wilt" in the oven, I decided to bake the frozen dough straight away rather than thawing it in the fridge. Besides, assuming the point is convenience, a fresh batch of scones could be whipped up in the time it takes to thaw the dough, so why bother?
Compared to the fresh and refrigerated batches, the frozen dough spread out a bit more as it baked, creating interesting cracks along the top, but it was still done in the same amount of time overall. While the shape wasn't as well defined as that of my normal scones, the frozen dough offered a huge boost in convenience that made any visual defects seem trivial. Lesson learned! So, what's the best way to freeze scones?
Cut the dough into wedges, but skip toppings like cheese or sugar—the latter will only draw moisture from the scones and turn syrupy and weird over time. Wrap the wedges, whether individually or as a wheel, in a few layers of plastic wrap, then once more in foil to help provide a bit of insulation against odor absorption (one of the biggest problems when freezing anything, from homemade ice cream to cookie dough). Mark the date on the foil with a Sharpie so your scones aren't lost to the sands of time, then freeze and use within two months. When you're ready for fresh scones, just preheat the oven and bake as directed.
Since scones stale rather quickly once they're baked, this trick is especially useful in the short term, allowing you to enjoy freshly baked scones at their prime all weekend long.