I’ve been trying to recall when I had scones for the first time. For some reason, I don’t recall being very fond of scones while living in Malaysia (which is strange being that we were a British colony at one time and scones should be something I’m familiar with). And when I got to the US, the scones I got at most eateries/bakeries didn’t leave me wanting more—they were always very big, dry and tasted like sawdust in the mouth. I guess I just preferred cakes and cookies then.
Then one day, I read an article in my Fine Cooking magazine on a multi-purpose baking mix and one of the things you could do with it was make scones. I tried it and it was lovely and more cake-like. I made it for several parties and gatherings and it got very good reviews. But this is not the recipe I’m going to share today…that will be another post. Why? Because, believe it or not, I found an EVEN BETTER recipe.
What’s the difference between the first recipe and the second? Well, the first one I always recommend to anyone who doesn’t like scones—the texture is not as crumbly, it’s just a bit more cake-like and so far most of my friends who also claim not to like scones have enjoyed that one. But for the people who like their scones to be more, well…scone-like (as in not a cake), this is the recipe for you. The added advantage of this second recipe is that it does not call for eggs so for many of you who have children with egg allergies, you can make this for them as a treat.
I’ve shared this recipe with many friends and posted it on a forum and it is probably one of my most shared recipes. Why is it so good? It’s all about the butter, baby! (Alright, the heavy cream helps too.) The ingredients are very simple but they are filled with wonderful fat that makes this scone lovely in the mouth. It’s really hard to stop at just one when you’ve baked them.
Another reason I love this recipe—it’s simple to make. I’ve got it down to an art where I can have scones to eat from start to finish baking in about 30 minutes. If you take the time to double the batch and freeze one batch at the point before you put in the liquid ingredients, then making them takes even less time.
Cream scones(recipe adapted from America's Test Kitchen and technique adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine)
2 cups (10 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
3 Tbsp sugar (more for sprinkling)
1/2 tsp salt
5 Tbsp (2.5oz) cold, unsalted butter
1/2 cup dried currants *
1 cup heavy cream (more for brushing)
*Currants can be replaced with raisins although I’m not so keen on raisins. A variation that I like is to add 1 Tbsp grated orange zest and 1/2 cup dried cranberries instead of currants.
Preheat oven to 425 F (220 C).
Place flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a bowl and mix. Cut in butter until it resembles coarse meal.
(At this point, you can freeze the mixture in a container for later.)
Add currants. Mix. Stir in heavy cream until it comes together in a shaggy ball. It will still have lots of loose, sandy pieces. If you think it's too loose and sandy, you can add a little bit more cream to bind it a bit more -- it shouldn't affect the outcome if a bit more cream is added. *Note: I find that pouring the cream in slowly and mixing it little by little is more efficient than dumping the cream in all at once.
Place batter on a floured surface and roughly work it into a ball.
Press the ball down into a rectangular shape.
Fold the dough like you're folding a business envelope (in thirds, first right fold to center, then left fold to center). Notice that it is still quite shaggy and loose. That's ok.
Press the dough down again into rectangular shape in a vertical position. Do the business envelope fold again, this time top third to center then bottom third to center. The dough will still be a little sandy and loose--don't worry about it...the less you work it, the flakier it will be.
Now, press the dough down into a circle. Cut it into 8 large or 16 small triangles.
Separate the individual scones and place them on a baking tray that is lined with parchment paper. Brush the top of the scones with cream and then sprinkle each one with a little sugar.
Bake for 12-15 mins until golden brown on top.
I challenge you to eat no more than one at a time. Once you pop one of these babies in your mouth, it will be hard to resist taking another!
More baked goods: Amish Friendship Bread, Marble Cream Cheese Cake, Roti Boy Butter Buns, Third Aunt's Butter Cake
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