Monday, January 31, 2011
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?
--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.
Posted by Marie at 4:37 PM