Lemon Vanilla Bean Scones

Can you go into a coffee shop and just get a coffee?  I can’t. I want something small and sweet to go along with the coffee.  It is a treat that I look forward to. The problem is that I am usually disappointed.  Either the flavor is lacking, the item is just becoming stale, or it simply tastes old. None of it worth the price I just paid.

It didn’t take me long to realize that the cheaper, better solution is to make something myself. I want something that isn’t too sweet, is just the right size, and portable.  I mean, preferably something I can nosh on without utensils. These little gems are just that type of a perfect sweet something to enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee and will not ever disappoint.

I love scones.  The dough is similar to a biscuit but sweeter and not as flaky.  The perfect scone should be crumbly in texture, but not dry. It should be lightly flavored and delicately sweet.  The addition of sugar to the dough helps to make that perfect, tender, moist crumb on the inside and the crisp, crunchy pebble textured outside.  Oh, just writing those few lines makes this food writer/blogger feel like Thoreau, Dickinson, or maybe even Hemingway!

Lemon and vanilla bean scone with a drizzled glaze on top sitting on a square white plate beside a cup of coffee.

These Lemon Vanilla Bean scones are easy to make, especially if you use a food processor to combine the butter and dry ingredients.  I’ve found that using the food processor instead of a pastry blender or even ‘snapping’ the butter in by hand makes for a more tender final product.  I’ve learned the hard way that you don’t want to work the dough too much. Nobody wants a tough scone.  Trust me.  It ruins the experience.

I’ve added lemon zest to the dough because, well, everything’s better with lemon. Also, using the seeds from a vanilla bean and seeing the little black flecks in the scone preps your brain to expect the full, robust vanilla flavor that is soon going to envelop your mouth.

Lemon and vanilla bean scone with a drizzled glaze sitting on a square white plate beside a cup of coffee.


  • Vanilla beans are the dried pod.  Once the pod is split, you are able to scrape the black beans and pulp to add to your recipe.  This is known as the vanilla caviar. Vanilla beans can be pricey but offer the most flavor.
  • Vanilla bean paste is a mixture of the ground vanilla bean and vanilla extract.  It is thicker than extract, more like a syrup consistency. Often, it is sweetened as well.  The vanilla paste can be used in the same amounts as an extract. You can also substitute 1 tablespoon of vanilla paste for 1 whole vanilla bean.
  • Vanilla extract is made by soaking the vanilla bean in alcohol and water.  It has a concentrated flavor and is usually cheaper than the paste or whole bean.
  • Vanilla flavoring does not have alcohol in the process.  It is the most economical, but also the least intense in flavor.
  • Imitation vanilla is a chemical interpretation of vanilla and will lessen the flavor of your product.  In other words, don’t bother with imitation.


A delicate, sweet scone flavored with lemon zest and vanilla bean. This is perfect with your cup of coffee or tea in the morning.


  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped of seeds
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour (if you don’t have cake flour, use an additional 1 cup AP flour)
  • 1 cup all purpose (AP) flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ½ cup very cold butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 large egg
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon heavy cream


  • 1 ½ tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon lemon extract
  • Tiny pinch of salt


  1. In a small bowl, pour in the heavy cream.
  2. Using a very sharp knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds and pulp from the pod. Drop the seeds and pulp into the heavy whipping cream. Add vanilla extract and stir until the seeds and pulp are evenly dispersed throughout the cream. Set aside for at least 30 minutes to allow the seeds and pulp to flavor the cream.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat mats. Set aside.
  4. in the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Pulse just until it’s mixed together. Add the cold, cubed butter and pulse until the flour mixture resembles a coarse corn meal. Set aside.
  5. In the bowl with the vanilla seeds and cream, whisk in the egg until very well blended.
  6. In a large mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients from the food processor. Make a well in the center.
  7. Add in the egg and cream mixture. Using a wooden spoon, stir until the dry ingredients are moistened.
  8. Flour a work surface. Turn the dough onto the prepared surface. Divide the dough in half. Using your floured hands, form each half into a circle about 6-inches wide and about an inch thick. Repeat with the second half of dough.
  9. Using a sharp knife, cut each circle of dough into eighths, like a pie. Place the scones on the prepared baking sheets.
  10. Brush the tops with the egg and cream wash.
  11. Bake in the prepared oven for 17-20 minutes until lightly golden brown. Don’t let the scones get too brown.
  12. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
  13. For glaze: In a medium bowl, whisk together all glaze ingredients until smooth.
  14. When scones are completely cool, drizzle the tops with the glaze and allow to dry for at least an hour.
  15. Enjoy.


Note: the dough can be made the night before, shaped, cut and placed on the baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate. The next morning, brush the tops with the egg and cream mixture and bake as directed above.


  • Serving Size: 1