Sunday, May 9, 2010

Cream Scones & Happy Mother's Day!


I have had several friends tell me that I need to write a post on my cream scones. Today seems like a good day to do it. It's Mother's Day. I make breakfast for my mother every year and of all the things I make, cream scones are her favorite. On a day when I would go the extra mile and make homemade Danish, or an elaborate coffee cake, she requests the easiest thing of all the baked goods I make.

There is something about these scones—I have to agree that they are special. People who have declared to me that they don't like scones, like these. I wish that I could say that they are "my" scones, but I can't. I can't even claim to have adapted them too much from the original recipe. I came across the cream scone recipe because of a cream biscuit recipe. When I worked at The American Restaurant we occasionally made little mini biscuits to stuff with various savory things as part of an hors d'oeuvres/appetizer spread. The biscuits were a simple cream biscuit from Marion Cunningham's The Breakfast Book. Cunningham credits James Beard's cooking classes with the original recipe and says the biscuits are "superior" and that "they are so ridiculously simple" that "no student ever failed to make good ones". And it's true. At the restaurant, we could give the task of making these biscuits to the greenest of cooks and they would turn out well.

A few pages over from the recipe for Cream Biscuits in Cunningham's book is a recipe for Dried Fruit Cream Scones. The recipes are nearly identical. Having had such good experience with the biscuits, it seemed a no-brainer to try the scones. They too are superior. While any well-made scone is good when hot from the oven, these scones are good even after they have been sitting around for a while. I would describe them as more cake-like than "flaky"—there is no butter in the recipe to create the hallmark flakes of traditional biscuits or scones, but I don't miss that because these are so soft and tender.

Like the biscuits, the scones turn out well even in the hands of an unskilled baker. I remember one time observing a couple of novice bakers, to whom I had handed off the recipe, making up a large batch. As I watched, my heart sank. They were fairly enthusiastic with their kneading and handling of the dough. I thought that if the scones were ever going to turn out badly, that this would be the time. But they were still very good. Anyone who knows much about baking and pastry knows that over-handling of a dough will produce leaden or tough results. But not these scones. I don't recommend over-working the dough—like any pastry they are best when given a light touch—but honestly, even if you have never made a scone or a biscuit before, you can make these.

A few years ago I was in the habit of making cream scones as an occasional mid-morning pick-me-up for my co-workers. Everyone loved them, but whenever I offered to share the recipe I was met with statements like, "Oh, there is no way I could make them and have them turn out like yours do." Then, one year for Christmas, I made up small gift bags of the dry mix and gave them as presents along with the recipe. Over and over I heard back enthusiastic reports of success.

The original recipe is for an all dried fruit scone, but I almost always make mine with half dark or white chocolate. I made dried tart cherry-chocolate chip for my mother this morning. Another favorite combination is dried apricot-white chocolate. Katrina at Baking & Boys has made them with toffee, chocolate and almonds. Give them a try and you will soon come up with your own favorite versions.

Cream Scones
(adapted from The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham)

2 c. all-purpose flour
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. “mix-ins”, see below
1 ¼ c. heavy cream (no substitutions), plus more for brushing
Turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a bowl. Whisk to blend well. Add the “mix-ins”.  Stir the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula while pouring in the cream, continuing to stir until a soft, sticky dough is formed.


Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly (5 or 6 times).


Pat the dough into a circle 3/4-to 1-inch thick.


Cut the circle into 8 wedges and place the wedges an inch or so apart on an un-greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush each scone with some cream and sprinkle generously with the raw sugar.


Bake at 425°until golden brown and springy to the touch—about 15 minutes.

“Mix-ins”: dried fruits, nuts and chocolate bits. Some favorite combinations—
         • Dried tart cherries with golden raisins
         • Chocolate chips
         • White chocolate chunks with quartered dried apricots
         • Chocolate chips with dried cranberries or tart cherries
         • 1/2 c. dried currants along with the zest of one orange

Notes:  

  • For a smaller scone, divide the dough half and form two rounds.  Cut each round into 6 wedges.
  • To work ahead...or simply have the option to bake one or two at a time...mix and form the scones, then place the pan in the freezer until the scones are frozen solid.  Transfer to freezer bags.  To bake, place the scone(s) on an appropriate-sized baking sheet and bake in a preheated 375-degree oven until golden brown and springy to the touch...about 25 minutes.  The frozen, unbaked scones will keep in the freezer for 6 weeks.


13 comments:

Katrina said...

I love these. But you knew that already. Thanks for the shout out. Hope you had a great weekend.

Karl said...

They are heavenly! I like them best with fresh raspberries mixed in, that being how my mom often makes them.

Paige said...

Hi Karl,

I like your Mom's version too! Thanks for stopping by.

Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] said...

These look delicious.. I've never tried scones yet, but I need to taste these!!

Judy said...

Thanks for this recipe. I'm going to try it and will get back to you.

Jennifer said...

Hi my name is Shannon, i'm at Jennifer's house and I just tried your cream scones- they are exceptionally good... My sister first told me how delicious these scones were, and now having tasted them, I fully agree! I am a scone lover and these are the best I have ever tried!

Paige said...

Hi Shannon...I'm so glad you like the scones! Thanks for taking the time to let me know. (I think they're pretty special too.)

sheryl said...

this is still one of my favorite go to recipes that everyone loves and asks for on special occasions. when this happens, it makes me smile and think of my YEAR of cooking classes with you. this is a bit late but, thanks so much for all your encouragement and patience.

Paige said...

Thank you Sheryl! I have missed seeing you in class....it was so fun to always see you out there the year that you were taking classes. You'll have to come see us again sometime soon!

Deana said...

Hi Paige - This is Deana Biggs! I absolutely LOVE these scones and every time I make them for someone, they're a hit. What would you to to make them chocolate scones? Thanks for the info - love your blog. Miss seeing you!

Paige said...

Hi Deana! So nice to hear from you...I hope all is well. I have never tried to make them chocolate, so I will just tell you where I would start if I wanted to develop a chocolate recipe. I would use cocoa (dutch process) and I would probably start by substituting for 1/5 of the weight of the flour...so, maybe 45 to 50 grams cocoa and 170 grams flour. Then, I would up the sugar...at least 2 T.--giving a total of 6 T. in the recipe. I'm guessing these changes would lower the amount of cream needed. I would then make adjustments as warranted by the results of the test. I hope this helps. I would love to hear about any chocolate scones you make!

Emily said...

Hi Paige, You've outdone yourself yet again with another crowd-pleaser. Everyone LOVES these scones. I love that they are not your typical cookie/banana bread/cake and instead are something different. They are very easy to make and come out amazing....my boyfriend asks for them every day! I made 2 batches this morning and have one left, haha. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Food has the power to bring people together and your delicious recipes do just that!

Paige said...

Thank you Emily! These are still one of my favorite things to make. (I have some in the freezer right now...with chocolate chips, dried cranberries and candied orange peel...YUM!).