Tuesday, December 11, 2007

My Mom's Scones

Preheat oven to 450.

Pulse in Cuisinart until most butter pieces are smaller than a pine nut:
2 cups flour
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 stick butter, cut in small pieces (preferably very cold... frozen works well, but not required)
If using unsalted butter (which I do but my mom doesn't) add about 1/4 tsp salt

Combine the wet ingredients separately:
1/2 cup cream or milk (more fat will make them more tender, but you can use anything from skim to heavy cream)
1 egg
1+ tbsp scotch (or brandy or grand marnier or whatever)

At this point you can add a handful of dried or candied fruit (candied orange rind, currants, whatever you feel like). You could also add lemon or orange zest. You could even add fresh berries. I've also had some really good savory scones recently. I had some in Seattle from Macrina bakery that seemed to have grated cheddar (possibly though not necessarily replacing some of the butter) a small amount of sun-dried tomato and some dill. People also add bacon, herbs. If you wanted to do savory scones, you'd cut out the sugar and the alcohol, or make sure the alcohol flavor complemented your choice of ingredients.

Add all but a drizzle of the wet mixture to the dry mixture (save a tiny bit to pat on the top of the scones before baking). Mix just to combine. Turn out onto a surface (or I use a large, shallow mixing bowl) and sort of flatten it all out and then fold it over and flatten again. Do this maybe 5-10 times. This traps air and creates layers. (A pastry scraper makes this whole process easier.)

(UPDATE: This folding part seems to be the most difficult for people. Depending on how big your egg was, or how humid it is outside, your dough may be more or less wet. In general, just try to go with it. If you don't have a pastry scraper, you could use a spatula. But definitely use something to help you fold it over (and scrape the dough off your hands) without adding flour. If it's really outrageously wet, go ahead and sprinkle some extra flour. But you don't really want to end up with something resembling bread or cookie dough. Also, if you're having trouble adding the fruit or whatever, try sprinkling whatever you're adding before you fold. Do this enough times and it'll be well distributed through.)

When you're done folding, you can either flatten the dough till it's about 1/2 inch thick and cut with biscuit cutters or do what I did, which is divide the dough in 2, make each portion into a roughly round flat disc (again, about 1/2 inch thick) and then cut the disc in quarters. (If you use biscuit cutters, and you've folded correctly, you should hear a little hiss of air escaping as you press quickly down. This was one of my favorite sounds as a kid.)

Find the drizzle of wet ingredients you saved and brush the tops of the scones with it. The easiest way is just to use your fingers. If you feel like it, you can top with a sprinkling of sugar, cinnamon sugar, whatever you want. Or leave it off.

Bake for about 12 minutes, or until the scones are nicely browned.


Monica said...

Ooo thanks, I messed around with some fresh cranberry scones last year to deal with my overabundance of T-day cranberries, but I didn't know about the folding to get air. Can't wait to try it!

Monica said...

Ok so I didn't use this recipe yet, but did use the technique for Christmas morning scones, and they were air-y and the perfect texture. Also used a new-to-me notion, that when cutting the dough to make the scones use the sharpest knife possible. I think both led to the great texture

Familie Barker said...

Made these for our guests over new year's and they were a BIG hit! Looking forward to more at rehearsals!