Monday, January 31, 2011

Scones--Two Ways

I make scones about once a year, usually for our January coffee hours, and looking back over the years, I see that I nearly always declare that these scones are the best I've ever made. In all honesty, I think this must be because I love scones so much that I'm always pleased with myself for having made them.
This year I made two variations on the Cook's Illustrated basic theme. And once again, I think that they may be the best scones I ever nade, especially the pecan scones with maple-cream glaze. I suppose if you were violently allergic to nuts you wouldn't like these; otherwise, there's no hope for you if you turned up your nose at them.

I doubled the recipe and made apricot scones with grated lemon peel and the aforesaid pecan scones. The doubled amount--with four cups of flour and 10 tablespoons of butter, was a bit much for the food processor to handle efficiently. If I made this recipe again and doubled it (which I had to do to provide enough scones for the neighbors), I think I'd just make the single recipe twice.

After mixing in the cream, you pat or roll out the dough into a circle. No one will know if your circle isn't perfectly circular. As usual, I rolled mine out too thin because I always think that otherwise the scones will be too fat. I'm always wrong. I may get it right sometime, but I'm not counting on it.

A dough scraper is the easiest thing to use to cut the dough into eight wedges. If you don't have a dough scraper, I highly recommend that you get one posthaste. (My daughter just used the word "posthaste" on her Facebook page, and I thought to myself, "what a good word! I will have to use it myself.")

These scones have only two tablespoons of sugar per two cups of flour. That is much less sweet than typical American coffeehouse scones. If you want them sweeter you can increase the sugar. Alternatively, you can brush cream on top of the unbaked scones and sprinkle them with sugar; that's what I did with the apricot-lemon scones. Or you can wait until they're baked and drizzle a glaze on them. For the pecan scones, I made a glaze of cream, maple syrup, and confectioners' sugar. (I didn't measure--just add sugar until you get the consistency you're looking for).

These scones were a huge hit. Only the children ate the doughnuts. The adults all dug into the scones. Two of the neighbors are scone aficianados, and claimed that these were as good as (or possibly better than) the best bakery scones. Of course, they do have an interest in encouraging me to bake for them, so it wouldn't be politic for them to criticize my baking, would it?

Cream Scones
--from America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook

2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, preferably a low-protein brand such as Gold Medal or Pillsbury
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
3/4 cup fruit or nuts (Toasted pecans, chopped dried apricots, dried cranberries, currants, etc.)
Grated lemon or orange rind (optional)
1 cup heavy cream

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425°F.

2. Place flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in large bowl or work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. Whisk together or pulse six times.

3. Remove cover and distribute butter evenly over dry ingredients. Cover and pulse 12 times, each pulse lasting 1 second. Add any fruit/nut additions and pulse one more time. Transfer dough to large bowl.

4. Stir in heavy cream with a rubber spatula or fork until dough begins to form, about 30 seconds.

5. Transfer dough and all dry, floury bits to countertop and knead dough by hand just until it comes together into a rough, sticky ball, 5 to 10 seconds. Form scones by turning the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, cutting the dough into 8 wedges with either a knife or bench scraper. (You could also roll or pat out and cut pieces with a biscuit cutter).

6. Place wedges on ungreased baking sheet (I covered the pan with parchment paper) and bake until scone tops are light brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.


doughadear said...

First I have to tell you that I have made scones twice in the last two weeks. My girlfriend took me to an afternoon tea recently and so I've been trying different recipes to duplicate the ones I had at the tea because they were fantastic. Secondly I think your scones look incredible! From a rather flat dough look at how high they rose! I can't say mine did as well. You make scones so well I'm surprised you don't make them more often.

Caroline said...

I've made scones a couple of times, but always have such inconsistent results. Some are tough like hockey pucks, and others are so soft and delicate. I try not to overwork the dough, but I still am in the 'learning phase' I think... Yours look fabulous and I love how they aren't as sweet as a typical scone, I think you can appreciate the flavors more when they aren't masked by a ton of sugar!

breadbasketcase said...

It's because I like scones so much that I don't make them often. Especially now that I'm making a cake a week, I'd have to start training for a marathon if I wanted to add scones to my regular diet.
And training for a marathon sounds horrible.

My own preference is for a not-too-sweet scone, but judging from the scones you can buy, that's not what most people like.

Victor said...

In my case, I never made scones before. If you say that it is the best, I'll sure try it out. Thanks!

Kathy said...

Marie, I have been following your blog for quite some time now and enjoy it very much. For that reason, I am awarding you the Stylish Blogger Award via my blog!

Michelle said...

Thanks for the great scone recipe. I've not had much luck finding good recipes for them. I can't wait to make them this weekend!

Sherri said...

Marie, with the exception of the added chilled butter in this recipe, these are virtually the same as James Beard's absolutely fabulous Cream Biscuits. His book "Beard on Bread" published in 1980 has been a staple in my kitchen. Beard credits his family's Chinese cook for these tender, delicious biscuits. I've been making them for about 30 years and my first notation reads: "Christmas 1980, served these biscuits with St. Mary's County Stuffed Ham. I'll never make another kind of biscuit!" Yes, I admit to writing in all my cookbooks. I'm a little surprised that ATK didn't credit Beard with these; they're sticklers for credit.

breadbasketcase said...

I couldn't swear to these scones being the absolute best, but they're right up there.

Thank you! I'll proudly put this award on my blog the next time I post.

Hope you like them!

breadbasketcase said...

You made me curious, so I got out my tattered copy of Beard on Bread on looked up cream scones. I don't think they're a dead ringer for these scones, though, because Beard says what makes them unique is that they DON'T use butter.
As a friend of mine said, scones are all variations on a theme: they use flour, sugar, leavening, salt, and butter/cream/buttermilk/milk. It's the combinations and permutations that make them unique.

doughadear said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
doughadear said...

I made these scones yesterday and they are addictive. This is now my favourite go to recipe for scones. The cream really does make all the difference. The scones I made last week which were good were made with milk, but these are exceptional. They remind me of the Bread Bible's Currant Scones which I remember being very good and of course they were made with cream as well.

breadbasketcase said...

What fun! I'm so glad you liked them. We'll have to get Melinda to try them to see if they're akin to proper British scones.

Mary said...

These look wonderful. They are quite similar to scones made by James Beard decades ago. I new to your blog and have spent some time browsing through your earlier entries. I really like the food and recipes you feature here. I'll be back. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Blessings...Mary

Stephanie said...

Those look delicious!

Whenever I go to high tea I gobble up all the scones and promise myself that I will make them at home.. and then I forget.

I'm bookmarking this to remind myself!!

breadbasketcase said...

Thanks for checking in.

I made my first scones just a few years ago, and thought they'd be much more difficult than they are. Do make them, and then you can gobble them up to your heart's content.

HanaĆ¢ said...

Your post made me laugh. I guess I'd better stick with almonds! The scones look great. I made scones twice (orange scones and CI's oatmeal scones) and loved them. I don't make them often because of their high fat content. So it's a nice once-in-a-while treat (or in your case, once a year, which is good too).