Thursday, March 11, 2010

Buttermilk Scones

Scones are always baking in my kitchen.  There are the standards - cinnamon raisin, blueberry, orange cranberry, chocolate walnut - but I like the idea of a basic scone.  Nothing but scone and butter, or clotted cream (found in specialty stores like Putnam Market in Saratoga Springs) or your favorite jam or lemon curd.  Imagine treating your family and friends to a breakfast table set with a platter of buttermilk scones and all these beautiful accompaniments.  It'd be pretty special and easier than you might think.  The only utensils I use for making scones are a grater (for cold butter), a mixing bowl, and a wooden spoon.  No need for the tricked-out stand mixer here.  These scones are my own, with a little bit of wisdom taken from a number of sources, resulting in perhaps a unique method for creating light, fluffy, delicious scones.  I've heard people say, "I don't like scones.  They're too dry."  If eaten plain without any butter or jam, they're probably right.  I've addressed that by adding buttermilk instead of cream, and eggs, and they are plenty moist.  Mine also have a bit more sugar than the traditional.  Discs of dough are frozen for about twenty minutes, cut into wedges, and baked in a fairly hot oven.  Give these a try for your next special breakfast, whether the table is set for one or more, your efforts will be appreciated.

BUTTERMILK SCONES (makes 12 large/24 small)

In large mixing bowl, stir together:
2 cups AP flour (I like King Arthur)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Grate:  1 1/2 bars cold (even frozen) butter (12 tablespoons). If you don't have a grater, cut very cold butter into pea-sized pieces.

Using a fork, mix the grated butter into the flour mixture, making sure all pieces of butter are coated with flour.  Break up clumps with fork to distribute evenly.

In separate bowl, beat:

2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in egg mixture.  Stir just until it all comes together.

On a lightly floured surface, divide dough into two portions (four portions if making 24 small scones).  Roll dough to cover with flour and knead just a couple of times.  Pat into a round disk about 3/4-inch thick.  Place on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and place in freezer for about 20 minutes.

Remove disks from freezer and, using a very sharp knife or a fluted vegetable cutter, cut each into six wedges.

Separate scone sections and return to parchment-lined cookie sheet leaving about 1/2-inch space between scones, and brush with egg wash (1 egg beaten with a little bit of water). 

Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes for larger scones, 17 minutes for smaller scones, or until they've risen well and the top begins to brown.

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