Wednesday, January 28, 2015

scones

a dear friend and her girls were enamored of the scones i made the other day and asked for the recipe. it's so yummy that i thought others might enjoy a go at them too.

i found this recipe by googling (i find many, many of my recipes that way) and sifting through (you like that baking pun there?) to find this one by the king arthur flour people. not that i use king arthur flour regularly, except when it's on sale at the store. i really appreciated the "tips from our bakers" section. it was like having alton brown giving one of his excellent explanations.

here's my slightly-modified-and-actually-works-well-for-me version:

2 3/4 cups flour. i use all purpose bleached flour. no sifting, as i am not that patient.
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt. i like having my salt in the bigger chunks like this for baking. really for everything.
1/2 cup cold butter. i vary between salted and unsalted, depends on what i have available. i usually go with unsalted.
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or other flavoring. if you can, go with pure rather than artificial. the taste difference is noticeable.
2/3 cup milk. i have 1% on hand. if i had cream, i'd use it.
(optional) 1 cup mix-ins
(optional) fancy white sprinkling sugar

combine dry ingredients. cut in cold butter with a pastry blender. if you don't have one, get one. not expensive and works wonders. very useful kitchen tool. if you use mix-ins, add them now.

in a separate bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, and flavoring.

add wet ingredients to dry and stir with large spoon until all dry mixture is moistened and holds together.

here is where i am very particular about my tools, and it makes a different when i am baking. i bake these ONLY on the pampered chef rectangle stone. not metal. i don't know how other sheets perform with this recipe, but i do know how mine function. i've had them for over a decade and they are well seasoned.

using my large scoop - also from the pampered chef - scoop out leveled scoopfuls onto the baking sheet. ideally, i can get twelve of these evenly spaced on a sheet. any more than that and they tend to crowd each other. they need room to spread a bit and have warm air around the sides in addition to the top.

if you are going to use the sprinkling sugar, now's the time to shake a little on the top of each one. gently press down to make sure they stick.

put the scones into the freezer for 30 minutes. just do it. it makes a difference.

meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

bake one sheet for 18 minutes, then check for color. we prefer light golden rather than dark. make sure the sides look dry rather than wet. if necessary, keep in for another two minutes at a time.

cool briefly on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack. serve warm. store in airtight container.

so about the optional ingredients, we like these combinations to varying degrees:

- vanilla extract with milk chocolate chips
- orange extract with dried cranberries
- peppermint extract with dark chocolate chips

diana is not fond of almond flavoring, but i am. almond extract with dried cherries. perfection.

diana's current favorite is vanilla with no mix-ins. she eats them with lemon curd. they are enough to keep her supplied with breakfast and snack food all day long. the cranberry butter from trader joe's is yummy on the orange cranberry scones for me.

ander, being ander, still prefers my pumpkin biscuits. that's just fine by me. i bake All The Things my babies want. i'm happy to put hugs into their tummies.



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