Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Scones: High Time for Tea

There is something that has eluded me for years- how to make the perfect scone.

It had to be light, tender, a little airy and delectably delicious. I may be a tad obsessed with this idea of finding the perfect scone.

I should state that I am part English. Plus my grandma loved tea and tea cups. She had a lot of them. Some of my fondest memories were afternoon teas with my grandparents, dunking cookies into the milky tea in dainty teacups. This must be why I carry on the afternoon tea time tradition with my kidlets. Some times it is tea and sliced apples. Sometimes it is tea with crackers and cheese. But on very special occasions we have a English-style "cream tea"- tea and scones with devon cream.

I found a recipe that may have halted my search- in a pile of magazine cut outs. I am not sure what magazine it came from but I altered it a bit anyways, making a healthier version as well, so I don't feel bad sharing it. The recipes can both be made with the assistance of a food processor if you have one.

Here it is for your special occasions- baby showers, wedding showers, or even those spring showers that keep you indoors with your cup of warm tea.

Lemon SconesIt is almost mandatory to serve these with Devon Cream and a homemade strawberry or raspberry preserve. If you have a difficult time finding devon cream, a substitute would be very thick, whipped cream.
2 ½ cups flour (or more)
¼ cup sugar
2 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes

1 cup buttermilk (or add 2 tbsp vinegar to milk to make 1 cup)
1 egg
1 tsp of vanilla OR finely grated lemon rind OR finely grated orange rind
Optional: cream (half and half or whipping cream) and sugar

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Combine flour, sugar, citrus rind (if using), baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. (Or, alternately in bowl of food processor, combine by pulsing a few times.)3. Cut butter into flour mixture or rub into flour with hands. (Or pulse a few more times until butter resembles small peas in the flour).4. Whisk together buttermilk, egg and vanilla (if using) and pour into flour mixture. Mix with fork until it comes together. (Remove flour mixture from food processor and place into large bowl, whisk wet ingredients together and mix into flour mixture with fork).5. Flour work surface and very gently pat together to bring it together. Add more flour if needed.
6. Roll it or pat it gently out into 1” thickness and cut with large cookie cutter (circle, heart, etc.) and place on prepared baking sheet.
7. Optional: Brush with cream and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for approximately 12 minutes. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

If you want a slightly healthier version, here is a recipe for you!

Whole Wheat Scones with Yogurt & Cranberries
I like to cut these into tiny circles- approximately 2" across. A cookie cutter or small juice glass would work.
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar (this could be reduced to 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
1/2 cup dried canberries

1 cup plain yogurt, not low fat
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp milk

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Place flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar into bowl of food processor. Pulse a few times. Add butter and continue to pulse until blended into fine pieces. (In absence of food processor, combine dry ingredients with whisk in large bowl and blend in butter with fingers until it resembles small peas in the mixture).3. Remove mixture to a large bowl. Process (or cut with knife) cranberries until half their size, about one minute.
4. Mix together wet ingredients in a small bowl or shaker cup and then combine with flour mixture and cranberries. Stir with fork until it comes together.
5. Place dough on well-floured counter and pat together into large circle, pat down until approximately 1" thickness. Cut into desired shape.
6. Place onto prepared sheet pans (silpat or parchment paper) at least 2" apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes.