I’ve been baking scones a lot lately. I don’t know why, scones have never been something that I was a fan of. I always thought they were kinda dry and boring. When I worked at a bookstore cafe, though a lot of the bake case items were delicious (man I miss those Reese’s cookies so much even though they were probably 2,000 calories each!), the scones just always seemed eh.
My mom has made homemade scones though a few times, simple, plain, cream scones, with some citrus zest and plenty of toppings — fresh strawberries, fresh whipped cream, lemon curd, the works. Mmmm.
My new favorite cookbook, “Cook Without A Book,” has a basic scone recipe that you can make with all sorts of variations. You freeze the butter, then grate it, which makes it work into the flour very easily without a pastry cutter, and keeps the scones all flaky and buttery. Which is what you want them to be like. I still like to eat them with a tiny dab of butter per bite, but they’re honestly so good, they probably really don’t even need it. (My roommate has also made scones a few times, but she I think used margarine instead. For scones, butter is what you want, because it tastes better and makes it flaky too.)
I’ve made a few variations: double ginger (ground and crystallized), double cinnamon (ground and chips), plus a savory version – with blue cheese and golden raisins (not as good, but I think I messed up along the way with the mixing).
I also recently made a strawberry scone from Cook’s Illustrated, which I decided to make after reading a co-worker’s review of “Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook.” (You can find the full recipe posted at this blog I just found)
These were a few more steps to get it all together — you sort of knead the berries into the dough, fold it all up together, freeze it, roll it out some more, and then cut them into triangles. My scones ended up huge too. They could easily be half the size. I used chopped up strawberries and orange zest. Mmm. I wrapped half of the triangles up individually in plastic wrap, then in a ziploc, and froze them. Now I can bake them up individually as I want them. Can’t wait for Saturday morning 🙂
Now, I’m a scone convert. And I’m going to keep on looking for more variations. I saw an Irish cream version with whiskey butter recipe today… I may have to make that one soon!
Master Formula Perfect Sweet Scones
From “Cook Without a Book: Meatless Meals” (pages 66-67), by Pam Anderson (Her Three Many Cooks blog is great too!)
You really should get this book. Even if you don’t typically cook vegetarian meals. Everything in it that I’ve made so far is fantastic. And there are variations for everything, so you can use whatever you may have around.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 6 T. sugar, plus 1 tsp. for sprinkling
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- Zests/Spices/Herbs (pick 1)
- 1 stick unsalted butter, frozen solid
- 1/2 cup Flavorings (Pick 1)
- 1/2 cup sour cream (light if you like)
- 1 large egg
Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick liner.
Mix the flour, 6 tablespoons of the sugar, the baking powder, salt, baking soda, and Zests/Spices/Herbs in a medium bowl. Grate one-third of the butter into the flour mixture on the large holes of a box grater; toss to coat with the flour. Repeat grating and tossing twice more. Using your fingertips, work the butter and flour together a bit more. Mix in the Flavoring.
Mix the sour cream and egg with a fork until smooth. Stir the sour cream mixture into the dry ingredients with the fork until large dough clumps form. Use your hands to press the dough against the side of the bowl to form a ball. (There may not seem to be enough liquid at first, but as you press, the dough will come together. If necessary, flick a little water into the bottom of the bowl to get the last bits to adhere. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface, and pat into a 7 1/2-inch round about 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle with the remaining teaspoon of sugar. Use a sharp knife to cut into 8 wedges. Place the wedges about 1 inch apart on the baking sheet. Bake until golden 15 to 17 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool for 5 minutes. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.
Zests/Spices/Herbs (Pick 1 or 1 herb or spice plus a zest)
- 2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
- 2 tsp. minced fresh thyme
- 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. grated citrus zest—lemon, orange, lime
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
Flavorings (Pick 1)
- Semi- or bittersweet chocolate—chopped
- White chocolate—chopped
- Dried fruit: raisins (golden or dark), currants, blueberries, or cranberries; or coarsely chopped cherries, apricots, peaches or strawberries
- Crystallized ginger—coarsely chopped
Now I’m brainstorming other combinations: the authors suggests a few, like cherries and lime zest or orange zest and rosemary, but what about instant espresso powder and chocolate chips or cinnamon? You can be creative with these!