Vespa's recipes have appeared in "Midwest Living" and "Taste of Home." She belongs to Cook's Recipe Testers for "Cook's Illustrated."
Delicious Cakey Scones
In a society where muffins, donuts and bagels struggle for supremacy, the humble scone is often pushed aside or completely ignored. It's a shame, really, as these buttery babies make a perfect breakfast or mid-afternoon snack. Unlike their grocery store or coffee shop counterparts, homemade scones should be flaky, tender and melt in the mouth.
Scones originated from somewhere in the British Isles, perhaps Scotland. They were crafted from oats and baked over an open fire. Nowadays, scones in the UK are sometimes studded with currants and are traditionally served with jam, lemon curd or clotted cream. In America, they resemble a sweetened biscuit and can be encrusted with dried fruit or flavored with citrus rind, extracts, etc. Although almost unknown in Peru, scones are quite popular in Argentina where they are enjoyed with tea or mate.
This is a recipe for the American version, sweeter than the British scone and enriched with an egg. Be careful to use very cold butter and not overwork the dough. The result will be a slightly cakey scone to be served as-is or with a pat of butter.
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 Tablespoons cold, unsalted butter (approximately 100 grams), grated
- 3/4 cup dried, frozen or fresh blueberries (if using dried blueberries, see note below)
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup / 4 to 6 ounces cold whipping cream (see note below for low-fat alternative)
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Raw sugar, for sprinkling
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- Preheat oven to 375 F. Place ungreased cookie sheet in oven as it preheats.
- Mix egg, 1/2 cup cream, juice and vanilla with fork. Set aside.
- Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and zest. Cut in butter with pastry blender or in food processor until size of peas, working quickly so butter doesn’t soften.
- Drain blueberries. Add berries and egg/cream to flour mixture, stirring until dough just begins to come together. If the dough is too dry and crumbly, add more cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough is pliable but not too wet. With floured hands, gently knead five times. Pat into a log about one inch thick. Brush lightly with cream or milk and sprinkle heavily with sugar.
- Cut into 8-12 wedges or punch out rounds with a glass. Place on preheated cookie sheet.
- Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
Baking Notes and Tips
- Dried blueberries: If using dried blueberries, cover with boiling water and soak overnight or simmer them in a saucepan for 10 minutes. Cool before use.
- Frozen blueberries: If berries are frozen, rinse under cold tap until partially thawed.
- Dough consistency: Be careful not to over-wet the dough. If you need more liquid to bring the ingredients together, add cold milk or cream a teaspoonful at a time until the dough forms a ball.
- How to work the dough: Don't overwork the dough. Touch as little as possible so the heat from your hands doesn't melt the butter.
- Salted butter: If using salted butter, decrease kosher salt to 1/2 teaspoon.
- Temperature of ingredients: Use cold butter, cream and egg.
- Low-fat alternative: Replace the cream with buttermilk if you'd like lower fat scones. You can make your own buttermilk substitute by combining one tablespoon of lemon juice with milk. Add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda to other dry ingredients and your scones will rise high!
- How to cut the dough: Cut dough into wedges or use a glass or 1/2 cup dry measure to punch out scones.
- How to prevent spreading in the oven: If your scones tend to spread in the oven, try freezing them for 20 minutes. Place partially frozen scones on a preheated baking sheet before sliding them into the hot oven.
- Technique for flaky scones: See the five-minute instructional video at the end of this article for the technique that results in flaky scones.
- Variations: Try dried cherries instead of blueberries: omit the lemon zest and add 1/2 teaspoon almond extract with vanilla extract. Or try dried cranberries and orange zest.
Relax in your favorite armchair and enjoy warm scones with a cup of coffee or tea.