12 High Tea Places for the Best Scones in Penang
When some friends found out I work online, they were intrigued and thought I while away all my afternoons having high tea whenever I’m home.
It must have been that one time that I had a Chocolate Soufflé instead of a Scone in Penang.
Many thought I lead Tai Tai’s lifestyle with wonderful teatime treats.
Yes, I am often amid great treats and surrounded by food.
One wanted to apply for a job with me.
Pepe: OMG, you get up at 11 AM and then prep just for lunch, teas, and dinners. Do you eat suppers?
Me: Of course. NOT.
Pepe: This is not fair. Sounds, so Tai Tai <makes whinny puppy sounds>
I can imagine his eyes welling up with “EYE MO” tears and his lips in a “why not me?” quiver.
Me: I bring you along.
Pepe: Let’s plan <claps gleefully>.
So where would you go for a perfect scone for a classic English High Tea?
Afternoon tea <I take coffee actually> on a lovely afternoon is one of those moments I instead spend with a good friend chatting and catching up.
Seriously, they make the best teatime companion.
Yes, you are smirking as you read this.
We shall go again, Pepe!
For ladies who think of dolling up, go in a dress wearing the brightest pink lipstick; I’ll say, “Whatever rocks your boat, Sista!”
The boys and I like a place to chill from the afternoon heat and chat in cool air-cond. Comfort away from the rest of the world and talk shop.
We like service, and the waiters who come by every so often to top up our teapots are just lovely!
So you like tiny morsels, I just like Scones!
The men like to have tea with me because I will order one entire cake if I could.
< think of cutting that cake into eight wedges that you eat holding in your hand, and you get the idea of my popularity>
But we also like to behave nicely in a nice restaurant, so; we wait patiently and fawn over tiny “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” play mini pastry, finger sandwiches, cupcakes, and scones.
That’s after we spend 20 minutes arguing over what tea to choose from a list of 20!
Pepe: Aiyo, ridiculous, la you. One minute putting forward questions and debating for each tea. Some of which I also cannot even pronounce and much less annunciate!
Me: <to waiter> May I have a coffee? Hot Americano, cold milk by the side? And just Scones for me. Pepe will eat everything else you serve.
The science of a perfect Scone
Before we even start eating, Pepe and I had a lively discussion on what makes the best scone, well, just simply PERFECT.
I told him flatly, and I tasted some delicious scones and some awful ones that fail the visual and taste test by a whole mile.
The scones that failed miserably were the six English Scones I baked during high school when I was 13. It was as my Domestic Science teacher said flatly, “A Rock Cake.”
She held it up. This raisin dotted monstrosity disk looked like giant bugs shivered up and died in a hard crust pool.
She tapped it hard on the kitchen counter.
The worst thing I ever did was sneak in raisins, use my hot, sweaty hands, and no baking powder.
I was 13.
It was a hybrid of a rock cake and a muffin. I wouldn’t want anyone to break their gnashers on one of these.
If you’re a Pastry Chefs reading this, the worst you could do (in my books) is to put raisins, cranberries, and whatever other fruit into the scones!
If you can’t get the scones right in the first place adding anything else, which includes dusting the tops with icing sugar as well… a KISS?
KISS is an acronym for “Keep it simple, stupid.”
What is a scone?
An English scone’s simple ingredients are wheat or oatmeal with baking powder as a leavening agent and baked on sheet pans.
The scone is an essential component of the cream tea or Devonshire tea. And it differs from pastries, teacakes, and other types of sweets made with yeast.
English scones are less buttery and less sweet than American scones, although both go by the same name.
How to make a legendary delicious, luscious scone?
I often like simple recipes made with excellent quality ingredients. Freshly baked scones are one of life’s little pleasures. English Scones (shall I say British?) are the ultimate comfort food snack.
A good scone has a burnished golden top and a good even color, beautiful and golden brown all over and even on the bottom.
I was looking for scones made right.
Airy on the inside, golden on the outside, with sufficient height – the perfect scone is a science all of its own.
A good scone is not tall like a muffin.
It has lovely layers from rubbing in the butter. That crack line splits the scone as you twist it open into two halves of “biscuits,” which are incredibly “fluffy” and delicious.
I can’t wait to spread good salted butter and “strobes” (Strawberry conserve with a thick jammy consistency to it, but it’s never store-bought jam, ok?) on my scones and wolf these down.
Pepe, no need the clotted cream or whipped cream.
Pepe: But, I must.
Nobody contact, please!
To make the perfect English Scones, there must be absolutely nobody in contact with the mix.
Remember, the butter has to be icy cold!
Pepe Sounds almost virtuous!
Where Can I Find the Best Scones in Penang?
Incredibly Fluffy and Delicious Scone Recipe
- 2 cups All-purpose flour ((10 ounces by weight))
- 4 tsp Baking Powder
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 6 tbsp Unsalted Butter ((icy cold butter))
- 2/3 cup Buttermilk
- 1 large Egg
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- In a food processor, pulse the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar a couple of times to combine.
- Add the butter and pulse 7-10 times until the butter is completely distributed. You shouldn’t see any chunks of butter, and the mixture should have a sandy texture to it. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- In a small bowl, whisk to combine the milk and egg. Save 2 tbsp of it for the egg wash later, and pour the rest into the mixing bowl with the dry ingredients.
- Stir to combine with a spatula, until a rough dough forms.
- Transfer to a lightly floured countertop and knead about 10 times until the dough comes together into a relatively smooth ball. Take care not to knead too much, or the dough will be tougher and not rise as high.
- Roll the dough about an inch thick and use a 2.5″ cutter to cut about 7 circles. Re-roll the scraps and cut out another 2.
- Place the scones onto a parchment or silicone mat lined baking sheet and brush the tops with the reserved egg wash.
- Bake the scones for 13-15 minutes, until about tripled in height, and golden brown on the tops and bottoms. Enjoy!
The scone should double its height with a little tear or cracks in the middle. Take it and split it just like a biscuit.
A dream to bit into.
Whether you call it at home, little can top a perfect scone fresh hot out of the oven.
With its burnished golden top and light and fluffy interior.
This ultimate comfort food snack needs a dollop of cream and a smear of jam then we’re ready to go.
As far as home baking goes, perfecting the scone is a mystery.
Keeping moisture on the inside while achieving that coveted golden edge – and enough height; is a science all of its own.
You can hide imperfection with butter icing or use chocolate ganache to enhance it.
It’s all in the way you handle the humble ingredients.
A Scone is unforgiving; there is no margin for error.
Cold hands 3cm egg wash
Inside is soft and fluffy, but not like a sponge cake. It should be creamy and crumbly yet moist as you twist it to break it.
So began the long search for the elusive scones that took more than three months.
As I edit this post, five long months had passed me by.
I ate and sulk.
I put feelers out on social media. Friends ate, made recommendations.
One even arranged for his hotel’s pastry chef to make me some over Chinese New Year.
Thank you, I am touched as many friends continue to pamper and amuse me.
One friend took me to arguably the best. Alas, we waited for the café to open and for the owner to fire up the oven.
No spoilers, just read on.
Penang’s Beautiful Mansion
The Atas venue is an incredible experience with well-prepared scrumptious treats.
If you enjoy dining in a manor with a gorgeous interior, drop by for delicious bites of fluffy croissants, tomato buns, strawberry tarts, scones, and cakes and enjoy a good cuppa TWG Tea and a little tête-à-tête with a giggle or two.
I had coffee as usual.
There were no Tai Tai in the house when I had tea with my companion. He said the most extraordinary things, and we exchanged the best stories and gossips.
These had raisins and icing sugar served with unsalted butter and strawberry conserve as for the scones—no clotted cream.
Macalister Mansion | 228, Jalan Macalister, George Town, 11400 George Town, Penang | Opening hours: 8 AM – 11 PM.
Ordinarily, afternoon tea at the Suffolk House may not be right at the top of your head.
But if dining in a historical building built by Sir Francis Light himself is your cup of tea, then be prepared to linger and take some photos.
The ambience is delightful, and the scones are well dotted with raisins and served with butter, clotted cream, and four types of fruit conserve.
SUFFOLK HOUSE | 250, Jalan Air Itam, George Town, 10460 George Town, Penang | Tea for Two for RM90nett | Daily | 2:30 PM – 5:30 PM
Posh, snotty, and pricy, Farquhar Mansion’s afternoon tea is all about dining lavishly with sumptuous bites, along with a quality selection of teas.
No, I haven’t been here.
FARQUHAR MANSION | 33, Lebuh Farquhar, George Town, 10200 George Town, Penang | High Tea: 03.00 PM – 05.00 PM (Tues-Sun)
1885 at E&O Hotel
I like the swankiest option in George Town, and 1885 at E&O Hotel had the finest traditions of colonial style dining.
I somewhat fancy enjoying a tea with starched linens and impeccable service.
There are two types of scones; Classic English raisin and plain scones served with clotted cream and two fruit conserve types.
The scones are dense and crumbly make a heavenly mouthful.
1885 | 10, Lebuh Farquhar, George Town, Penang | English Afternoon Tea | RM67.95 net per person | Daily | 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM
2 PM Lounge
Pamper yourself to delightful tea time with a three-tiered silver stand of finger sandwiches, homemade scones, sweets, petite treats, and a pot of tea of your choice.
2 PM LOUNGE | G Hotel Kelawai | 2, Persiaran Maktab, 10250 George Town, Penang | Afternoon Tea RM 50 (Serves Two) | Daily | 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM
In George Town
Auction Rooms Café
Suppose you like a Refillable Afternoon Tea with a blend of Western and Malaysian delights. In that case, Auction Rooms Café offers a set with savouries such as open-face smoked duck and nasi lemak sandwiches and mini scones presented within a vintage, birdcage-like tray.
There are raisins scones.
AUCTION ROOMS CAFÉ | 38a, Jalan Sungai Ujong, 10100 George Town, Penang | Refillable Afternoon Tea for RM 76 (Serves Two) Daily | 2:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Up Penang Hill
David Brown High Tea, Strawberry Hill
Tuck in exquisite teas and the fine eats as you enjoy a breathtaking view at David Brown’s Restaurant & Tea Terraces with an elevation of about 833 m (2723 ft.)
Enjoy the funicular train ride to the top for the best view of George Town.
The plain English scones come in a set of two served with butter, clotted cream, and Strawberry conserve has been described as the best scones money can buy, but pricey with slow service.
DAVID BROWN’S RESTAURANT & TEA TERRACE | Strawberry Hill, Penang Hill, 11300 Air Itam, Penang | David Brown’s Petit Four | RM 108++ (Serves Two) Daily | 3 PM – 6 PM | Devonshire Cream Tea | RM 28 ++ (Serves One) Daily | 3 PM – 6 PM
In a Mall – Winter Warmer Coffee & Tea House
Winter Warmer built its reputation around a vintage theme, English teas, the classic Victorian furniture, and rose-themed teacups and plates in identical outlets.
They scented the raisin scones with rose petals and served with butter, whipped cream, and a fun-size jar of rose jam.
If you’re in the mood to sip something more fanciful, try their candied ginger or rose milk tea.
WINTER WARMER COFFEE & TEA HOUSE | Gurney Plaza, 170-G-38, Gurney Drive, 10250 George Town, Penang | Afternoon tea set: RM75 net/set Daily
Annabelle’s Place is a British restaurant and this by far is the best place for scones.
The owner is a chef and baker and makes her food with love.
I went one afternoon (too early) and waited while she makes everything from scratch.
If there’s one thing I didn’t like about raisins in scones, well, I love these so much I ordered three sets to share with a friend.
ANNABELLE’S PLACE | 10, Lebuh Lembah Permai 4, Tanjung Tokong, 11200 Tanjung Bungah, Penang | Tea begins at 3 pm until 6 pm | Tel: 04-890 1098 | Closed on Sunday
Le Petit Four Patisserie
When I thought all the excellent pastry chefs take off from little Penang, I find Le Petit Four Patisserie, which someone tagged me on FB 18 weeks ago!
So sorry, my travelling schedule has taken me around the region.
The best joke is the Patisserie has the same off day as me.
I finally made the trip to taste the scones from this little French Bakery.
There is no discernible difference in the taste to the height of scones.
Visually these are the best and highest I’ve seen. So I chose the “tall boy” scone for tasting.
The scones are baked fresh daily.
Alas, I was there just after lunch, so they heated it for me.
It twists off into two unequal halves; the texture is biscuity on the edges and crumbly inside. It is dotted with cranberries, which I rather like.
I was surprised myself.
Most make it with raisin, which I don’t fancy as it too sweet.
It was served with unsalted butter <why?> and strawberry jam, which looked too red and bright.
LE PETIT FOUR PATISSERIE | 310, Lebuh Pantai, 10300 George Town, Penang | Business Hours 9 AM until 6 PM | Closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays
What I eat with Scones…
The best scones are just made with an artisan touch. It is homemade, quickly and simply without much fanfare.
Scones, when made correctly, will stay moist for about two days. They freeze well if there’s any leftover.
The most important thing is the good scones can be toasted without toughening up like a child throwing a tantrum.
I prefer to twist the scones into halves. Splitting them with a fork down the center preserves the lovely texture.
Most of the time, I want to get as much surface area as possible to absorb soft butter and jam.
I think it’s just me.
Above all else, I need salted butter.
Most of the hotels and cafes will hand out unsalted butter that is too cold to spread.
So I drum my fingers, smiled but getting annoyed as my scones cool down to wait for the butter to soften.
Above all else, yes. If you’re serving scones, you need clotted cream.
Devonshire cream or Clotted cream produced in Devon’s county, England, has a minimum of 55% butterfat, which makes it decadent than whipped cream.
So how do you handle butter, jam, and clotted cream, and yes, that scone?
Interestingly, in Devon, clotted cream is traditionally spread first on a scone and then topped with jam.
As for me, whatever works best <soften butter please>, clotted cream and jam is just about right.
So where would you want to go for the best scones in Penang?
The Best Scones in Penang
Finally, after a five months hiatus, as I juggle travel and ticking off lists. I’ve come to a simple conclusion.
The best scones are homemade served with the best with Strawberry conserve (not store-bought jam!)
The cover photo is a 10-minute scone that my friend John made when I pop over for tea in the afternoon.
He makes the best scones. These are light and moist that they fall between a cake and a well-made muffin.
As John said, scones are easy to mix and bake in a hot oven very, very quickly.
We use the best times to chat over tea and preferably not to complain more about scones but quietly enjoy our afternoons.
The best scone is fresh, made quickly, and eaten leisurely with good friends.