Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Scones

hello+lovely+apartment099kIn the last post, we talked about how to make the perfect biscuits…

Now let’s learn how to make the biscuit’s closest kid—the scone—anotherf quick bread that is made using very similar ingredients and techniques.

The perect scones are moist, light, tall and fluffy…slightly crispy on the outside…puffy and tender on the inside…with just the right amount of sweetness…served with jam, clotted cream, butter, or simply eaten plain. the perfect treat for breakfast or afternoon tea.

That is, assuming you’re an American.

 

True British scones are actually drier and more crumbly.

The “original” scones, called “bannocks,” were actually large round breads that were  made simply of oat or barley flour and water…and then dry-fried on a griddle before being cut apart into wedge shapes.

 

 

When it comes to making the perfect scones, you have to have quality ingredients and know the correct method of making them instead of just slopping all the ingredients together and hoping that they come out fit to eat.

By now, whenever you read a recipe for a bread that uses baking soda or baking powder…instead of yeast…to make the bread rise, you should see a pattern emerge.

This pattern of doing things is called the “quick bread method.”

 

 

Once you see just how easy it is to make scones yourself, they will no longer be a rarely eaten treat served only for special-day breakfasts and formal high-tea fare….scones that are just as good, if not better, than the ones that I fork over how much money at Starbucks every time that I splurge and buy myself coffee there.

So let’s get started.

 

 

 

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The Ingredients
  • 1Tbsp baking powder
  • 2C flour
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1/2C sugar
  • 1/2C butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1C heavy cream or buttermilk
  • 1tsp vanilla

 

 

The Baking Powder…If you forget the baking powder, your scones will not rise…go figure…

 

 

The Sugar…This may seem like a lot of sugar…feel free to experiment to find out if you still like the taste using less sugar…but remember that changing the amount of sugar that you use will chl

If you are making savory scones, reduce this amount to about 2Tbsp.

Brown sugar often makes certain flavors of scones taste even better, but if you are using brown sugar, you should whisk your wet ingredients until you  get out all the lumps of brown sugar…otherwise, guess what your scones will contain…

Lumps of brown sugar…obviously.

 

 

The Butter…Butter is responsible for the crisp edges, flakiness, flavor, and rise of your scones.

 

 

The Egg…Eggs add flavor, lift, and structure.

 

The Milk…The thicker this dairy ptoduct is, the more your scones will rise and the better they will taste. If you are looking for a “politically correct” form of milk, choose one from this previous post regarding milk options.

 

 

The Vanilla Extract… because all baked goods require vanilla, right?!

Wrong…Don’t use the vanilla if you are making savory scones…as opposed to sweet ones.

 

 

Optional Ingredients…The optional ingredients that yuu can incorporate into your batter change the taste of your scones and make them much more fun.

A few options include the following…

Chopped Nuts…Add these after cutting in the butter…but before adding the liquid.

  • Almonds
  • Pecans
  • Pistachios

Citrus Zest…Add one of the following into the liquid ingredient

  • Grapefruit
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Orange

Extracts…Add one of the following into the liquid ingredients

  • Almond
  • Anise
  • Lemon
  • Mint

Fruit…Use either fresh or frozen fruit. If using frozen fruit, do not thaw the fruit out first. Peel fruits such as apples, peaches, or pears before chopping.

  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries

Glaze or Frosting…Top your cooked, slightly cooled scones with one of the following…

  • Brown butter icing
  • Cream cheese frosting
  • Lemon curd
  • Lemon icing
  • Maple icing
  • Orange icing
  • Powdered sugar glaze
  • Raspberry icing
  • Salted caramel frosting

Herbs…Add one of the following into your dry ingredients…

  • Basil
  • Mint
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme

Spices …Add 1/2 to 1tsp one of the following into your dry ingredients….

  • Allspice
  • Cardamom
  • Cinnamon,
  • Clove
  • Ginger
  • Nutmeg

Other Ideas

  • Chocolate chips
  • Toasted coconut
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The Prep Work

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Adjust oven rack to center position.
Line two rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper and/or spray with nonstick vegetable oil spray or baking spray.
Set aside.

Stick your butter in the freezer.

 

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The Dry Ingredients

Whisk together your dry ingredients—the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder— in a large bowl.

…or simply pull out your KitchenAid to do this instead.

Actually we moved last month and I’ve had to hide the red KitchenAid that I love so much because there’s not enough space between the lower and upper kitchen cabinets for it to fit.

Regardless which method you are using, be sure to use a big enough bowl that will allow you lots of room to work in when combining your ingredients..

Add any herbs or spices that you have chosen at this point.

 

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 The Butter

Now it’s time to “cut in” the butter.

Cut your frozen butter into small pieces.

“Cutting” in your butter makes sure that your butter is evenly distributed throughout the dough. This will create little pockets of steam as the scones bakes, making them flakier.

If making your scones by hand, cut your cold butter into the dough with a pastry cutter or fork.

If using a mixer, mix on a medium-low speed for about thirty seconds.

Be careful not to over-mix.

Over-mixing will make your finished scones dense, instead of soft and crumbly….so work with the dough as little as possible.

You want the butter that you see in your dough at this point to be about the size of large peas.

If you are using any optional ingredients—other than herbs or spices which you should have already added to your dry ingredients by now—

 

 

 

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The Liquid Ingredients

Now lightly whisk together your liquid ingredients—the heavy cream, the egg, and any zests or extracts you may be using.

Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

Mix just until liquid is absorbed.

At this point, your dough should be lumpy, with raggedy edges — not smooth at all.

You do not want to over-mix your dough…

Be very gentle with your dough…otherwise your scones will turn out crusty and chewy.

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Working with the Dough

 

Once you have finished making your dough, refrigerate for at least fifteen  minutes. This will keep your scones from spreading out too much wheever you bake them.

You could even refrigerate your dough overnight at this point and finish making them for breakfast the following morning.

Your goal is to Keep your dough as cold as possible.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter top or marble pastry board. Using a marble pastry board will help keep the dough cool.

Divide the dough in half.

Sprinkle a pinch of flour on top of each half.

Fold the dough in half.

Turn it 90 degrees. Pat out.

Repeat this folding process five more times….being very gentle with the dough when you are doing this.

Shape each portion into a 6″ circle…about 1″ thick. Use your hands to do this, not a rolling pin.

Cut each circle into six even wedges, using a pizza cutter…making sure that you cut the wedges apart completely.

You could also use your biscuit cutter and cut out circles of dough. If you use a biscuit cutter, remember to push your biscuit cutter straight down instead of twisting it. Otherwise your biscuits and scone won’t rise as tall

If your dough seems too sticky, add a little more flour…but be careful not to add too much excess flour because this will make the scones drier.

If your dough seems too dry, add a couple of tablespoons of heavy cream.

Lift the wedges, one at a time, with either a pie server or a spatula.

Place the wedges about 1/2″ apart on the prepared baking sheet,

Brush the top of each scone with heavy cream or buttermilk. Doing this will give your scones more of a golden brown, extra crispy, and crumbly exterior.

You could also sprinkle some sugar on top to add even more crunch.

 

 

 

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Baking Your Scones

Bake the scones at for about fifteen to twenty minutes,,,until they have about tripled in height…and are  golden brown on the tops and bottoms.

If your scones seem to be browning too fast as they bake, then tent them with aluminum foil.

After this amount of time, stick a toothpick into the center of a scone to see if they’re done. If the toothpick emerges clean, or with a very few moist crumbs, they’re ready. If the toothpick emerges with anything on it, other than perhaps a few crumbs, then let them bake a bit longer.

Remove the baked scones from the oven,

Let cool for a couple of minutes before topping them with any frosting or glaze.

Scones are best served warm, or within a few hours of baking.

If your scones seem to be spreading out too much as they bake, remove them from the oven and press them back into their original shape using a rubber spatula.