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Scones


Pool Boy
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We recently went crazy picking blueberries (Larriland). After gorging on blueberry pancakes and blueberry pie, and dreaming of making blueberry muffins, we turned to one of our favorite treats -- blueberry scones.

Scones take a bit of planning, time and preparation, but not thaaaaaaat much, and the results are amazing and so worth it. We use the Cook's Illustrated recipe and they always turn out wonderful. I highly recommend it. Light but satisfying at the same time, they need nothing to adorn them, but a bit of good butter gilding the lily is not a bad idea at all if you so desire.

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We recently went crazy picking blueberries (Larriland). After gorging on blueberry pancakes and blueberry pie, and dreaming of making blueberry muffins, we turned to one of our favorite treats -- blueberry scones.

Scones take a bit of planning, time and preparation, but not thaaaaaaat much, and the results are amazing and so worth it. We use the Cook's Illustrated recipe and they always turn out wonderful. I highly recommend it. Light but satisfying at the same time, they need nothing to adorn them, but a bit of good butter gilding the lily is not a bad idea at all if you so desire.

Really? I have always looked at scones as a quick prep item. Not to mention that the dough can be made and scones portioned out and frozen for future baking.

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Really? I have always looked at scones as a quick prep item. Not to mention that the dough can be made and scones portioned out and frozen for future baking.

Well, it requires a little forethought. Chilling the bowls, freezing the butter, etc and popping things back in the refrigerator to keep it all cool is what I am talking about. Once the dough is made, I agree, it is easy to freeze and portion out for future use.

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Well, it requires a little forethought. Chilling the bowls, freezing the butter, etc and popping things back in the refrigerator to keep it all cool is what I am talking about. Once the dough is made, I agree, it is easy to freeze and portion out for future use.

I'll second MDT; really? We follow a CI recipe as well and don't have to deal with all that. The only thing along those lines we do is to cube the butter, then put it back in the fridge until it needs to go into the (non-refrigerated) stand mixer bowl with the (non-frozen) flour and other dry goods. If it required as much work as you make it sound, we might not have it as often.

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I'll second MDT; really? We follow a CI recipe as well and don't have to deal with all that. The only thing along those lines we do is to cube the butter, then put it back in the fridge until it needs to go into the (non-refrigerated) stand mixer bowl with the (non-frozen) flour and other dry goods. If it required as much work as you make it sound, we might not have it as often.

We grate the frozen butter as directed. And I believe there are steps in the recipe requiring throwing the stuff back in the fridge a time or two along the way. Maybe I am remembering incorrectly, but I think I have it right.

BTW, I didn't say it was at all difficult, just requiring a bit of planning and forethought is all. This should not dissuade anyone from trying to make scones at all. In the greater scheme of things, there are far, far more difficult and time consuming cooking and baking tasks out there.

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I guess I view scones (and biscuits) from a totally opposite perspective... As long as the oven is already hot, scones & biscuits are what I bake when I'm feeling lazy, don't want to plan ahead or fuss with stuff. Unlike when making cakes or yeasted breads, there is no waiting for anything to rise or for the butter to soften. ;)

I'm also more of a traditionalist and below is my go-to basic scone recipe. I will toss in fruit, nuts, etc. as the mood strikes, but my favorite are plain scones, warm-from-the-oven, topped with clotted (or double devon) cream and a not-too-sweet strawberry jam. :lol:

SCONES

Makes eight 3” round scones

2 cups bleached, all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into ½” pieces

~¾ cup milk

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

In a large bowl or the bowl of a food processor, mix together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt and sugar. With a pastry blender, 2 knives, your fingertips or the steel blade of a food processor, cut or process the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse meal with a few slightly larger butter lumps.

If making by hand, make a well in the center of the flour/butter mixture and pour in the milk. Working quickly, blend the ingredients together with a rubber spatula into a soft, slightly wet dough. If using a food processor, pour the milk though the feed tube and pulse until the dough just starts to gather into a rough ball (be careful not to over process the dough or the scones will be tough).

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface and pat into a ½” thick circle. Use a 3” biscuit cutter to cut the dough into circles, gathering the scraps together and reforming a ½” thickness and cutting more scones until all the dough is used. Or you can cut the original circle into eighths for triangular scones (which is much easier and quicker!). Place the cut scones at least 1” apart on a lightly-greased or a parchment paper-lined half-sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve immediately.

(Adapted from Cook's Illustrated March '94 scone recipe)

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Would someone care to wax poetic about the wonders of scones? I've never had one that has been other than a virtually tasteless (except for fruit etc), crumbly (double yuck on the crumbly), mouth-drying hunk of over baked dough. This also describes my cornbread but I have actually tasted great cornbread made by others. Is there a locally (DC or Arlington) available scone that one can recommend that would be the epitome of sconiness that I could try in order to figure out if scones are just not my cup of tea? I would really like an excuse to consume more clotted cream and not-too-sweet jam.

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Would someone care to wax poetic about the wonders of scones? I've never had one that has been other than a virtually tasteless (except for fruit etc), crumbly (double yuck on the crumbly), mouth-drying hunk of over baked dough.
I prefer the contrast of a leaner scone with the richness of the cream & jam, but the problem is this type of scone is best fresh-from-the-oven. Time is rarely the friend of scones, biscuits, bannock, soda breads and the other goodies in this category and far too quickly they do become hunks of moisture-sucking staleness.

So what is a solution to this dilemma (other than having excellent timing and arriving just as the scones are done baking)? Add more fat! :lol:

IIRC, Pool Boy's CI recipe calls for 2 sticks of butter for 2 cups of flour (plus sour cream). But, while as delicious as they are straight-up, I personally draw the line at slathering more calories atop such a scone.

However, there is middle ground... For scones that will not be served right away, I'll often use the recipe below. The butter is a generous 1 stick for 2 cups of flour and the addition of an egg (and half & half) also helps to stretch out how long they'll go before staling.

RICHER SCONES

Makes eight 3” round scones

2 cups bleached, all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons sugar

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into ½” pieces

~1/2 cup half & half

1 egg, beaten

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl or the bowl of a food processor, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. With a pastry blender, 2 knives, your fingertips or the steel blade of a food processor, cut or process the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse meal with a few slightly larger butter lumps.

If making by hand, make a well in the center of the flour/butter mixture and pour in the half & half and egg. Working quickly, blend the ingredients together with a rubber spatula into a soft, slightly wet dough. If using a food processor, pour the liquids though the feed tube and pulse until the dough just starts to gather into a rough ball (be careful not to over process the dough or the scones will be tough).

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface and pat into a ½” thick circle. Use a 3” biscuit cutter to cut the dough into circles, gathering the scraps together and reforming a ½” thickness and cutting more scones until all the dough is used. Or you can cut the original circle into eighths for triangular scones (which is much easier and quicker!). Place the cut scones at least 1” apart on a lightly-greased or a parchment paper-lined half-sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12-14 minutes or until lightly browned.

[For those who care about such things -- I've also made this recipe with vegan shortening & vanilla almond milk to create some pretty darn yummy dairy-free scones. Or you can increase the almond or soy milk and omit the egg for pretty darn yummy vegan scones.]

This recipe also makes good a base for strawberry shortcake. My Missouri-born father likes to butter the warm shortcakes before topping with strawberries and whipped cream -- talk about rich!

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Would someone care to wax poetic about the wonders of scones? I've never had one that has been other than a virtually tasteless (except for fruit etc), crumbly (double yuck on the crumbly), mouth-drying hunk of over baked dough. <snip> Is there a locally (DC or Arlington) available scone that one can recommend that would be the epitome of sconiness that I could try in order to figure out if scones are just not my cup of tea? I would really like an excuse to consume more clotted cream and not-too-sweet jam.
There are really good scones out there. Although this was about 7 years ago, I was fortunate enough to have a really good, buttery, scone at The Henley Park hotel's afternoon tea. I believe they still do tea, but am not sure if the same scones are there. I still think though, the best are when you make it at home -- I completely agree with mktye that it's "best fresh-from-the-oven." Plus, there's nothing like clotted cream or jam on a super-warm scone.
I don't know if it's the epitome of sconiness, but I really like the scones with dried fruit from Atwater Bakery (I buy them at the Arlington Courthouse farmers market).
Atwater Bakery does make a really good scone. They're also at other farmers' markets in the area besides Courthouse (I think I bought mine in Falls Church). I think Mother Macaroon's on Harrison St. in Arlington also does a decent scone. I think. Now I have to go get one to make sure again. :lol:
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mkyte-- Thanks for posting that. It does indeed look similar to the recipe from CI that we use -- I might have to try your version to compare. Personally, I like the grating of the butter as it more finely and evenly distributes the buttery goodness around the whole scone.

Mrs. B -- Make the Cooks Illustrated version. I very much recommend it and you can adapt the fruit and other gooides in to the dough as you see fit. They are so good and so not crumbly and so not hard and dry.

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This thread got me digging around for a raspberry scone recipe I have not made in quite a while: Raspberry-Buttermilk Scones.

The amount of baking powder should be 1/2 tsp. It's missing in the original post.

I'll have to make these again soon and see if they're as good as I remember.

I made these this morning, and they came out differently than I remember--more like triangular muffins than a harder kind of scone. They're quite good. The humidity may have affected the results some. I also made a slight mismeasure on the buttermilk. When I poured it into the measuring cup, I had a little more than the 1/2 cup that the recipe called for and I was going to pour off the excess, but I forgot. The batter was fairly sticky, but the final product is moist with a nice crumb. The berries bled a bit, so the final product could look a little prettier than it does, but the scones are good for eating, and that's all that matters :lol:.
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We made the CI scones again yesterday and they turned out quite good. It was also easier and simpler to make than I recall. Only freezing the butter, chilling it again after grating, and placing the dough in the freezer for a few minutes after initially working it. Like I said, easier than I remember.

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I use a recipe from the cookbook, Bittersweet, that is unbelievably easy and quick. Instead of butter, it uses cream. Just off the top of my head, the ingredients are just flour, baking powder, salt, cream, and chocolate chunks or whatever you want for the flavoring. You mix the dry ingredients together, add the cream, add the chocolate chunks, stir to combine, knead briefly. Pat out and cut into pieces and bake.

A recipe that tells you to freeze the butter and then grate it sounds unduly complicated.

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I use a recipe from the cookbook, Bittersweet, that is unbelievably easy and quick. Instead of butter, it uses cream. Just off the top of my head, the ingredients are just flour, baking powder, salt, cream, and chocolate chunks or whatever you want for the flavoring. You mix the dry ingredients together, add the cream, add the chocolate chunks, stir to combine, knead briefly. Pat out and cut into pieces and bake.

A recipe that tells you to freeze the butter and then grate it sounds unduly complicated.

I've made a similar recipe I got off Chowhound and have been really pleased with the results. Easy to make and taste good--a difficult to beat combination!
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