Sunday, March 18, 2012

ChezCindy: Sunday-morning Scones

I love scones.  They sound so fancy, but are very easy to put together.  I like that there is minimal pre-planning. Some recipes require having ingredients at room temperature, or allowing the dough to chill.  Not this one.  Scones work best with cold ingredients right from the refrigerator.  Just pull out the ingredients and go.  I make all kinds of scones, savory or sweet, using what I have in my pantry or freezer.  The picture above is dried apricots, toasted walnuts and chopped white chocolate.  The variations are endless.  A few varieties that I make are lemon scones, chocolate chip scones, fresh blueberry scones, cheddar scones, and ham & cheese scones.  Below is my basic recipe, to which I add the extra ingredients to make the specific scone.  For the savory scones, I leave out the sugar.

 2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup flour for kneading
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream

Apricot-Walnut Scones
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
2 ounces chopped white chocolate

Chocolate Chip Scones
6 ounces chopped milk chocolate

Cheddar Scones
omit the sugar
4 ounces of grated cheddar cheese

Ham & Cheese Scones
omit the sugar
2 1/2 ounces Gruyere cheese (or Swiss cheese)
2.1/2 ounces thinly sliced ham, torn into pieces
2 tablespoons course grain Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line 2 large sheet pans with parchment paper.
In the bowl for an electric mixer, add the 2 cups of flour, sugar (if using), baking powder and salt.  Gently combine.  Take the butter from the refrigerator, (you want the butter to be as cold as possible) dice into tiny peices-1/2 inch cubes.  Add to the flour mixture, mix at low speed until the butter is the size of small peas.  The key to a great scone is that the  butter will not be completely combined into the flour.  In a separate large measuring cup for liquids, measure out the cream.  Add the eggs, slightly mix the cream and eggs together.  With the mixer on low speed, add the cream-egg mixture to the flour.  Mix just until blended.  The dough will not be fully pulled together at this point.  Remove the mixing bowl from the mixer.  Add in your optional ingredients.  Using a wooden spoon or spatula, mix in the optional ingredients, just until somewhat incorporated.

Working on a clean counter surface or a work-board, sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of flour onto the surface.  Transfer the scone dough directly onto the floured surface.  Using your hands, finish combining the add-in ingredients with the additional flour until well combined and the dough has come together, using a kneading technique.  You should still see bits of butter in the dough.  Shape the dough into a flat disc.  Flour a rolling pin to roll out the dough to a 1 inch thickness.  You may need to sprinkle more flour onto your work surface.  Using a biscuit cutter, cut out the scones, place onto the prepared sheet tray.  Collect the scraps, roll out the dough, cut more scones.  Brush the tops with an egg-wash (beaten egg and 1 tablespoon of water).  For the sweet scones, sprinkle the tops with sugar; savory-sprinkle with a bit more shredded cheese.

Bake in the hot oven for 20 minutes, rotating the pans half way through cooking time.  Remove from the oven, the tops should be slightly browned, slide the parchment paper off with the scones in place, directly onto your counter to cool.  I drizzle my sweet scones with a powdered sugar glaze.  Combine 1/2 cup powdered sugar with 1 tablespoon liquid - could be juice, milk or water.


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