I love scones! These crumbly, rich biscuit-like quick breads from the British Isles are a versatile and delicious home baked breakfast specialty, anytime snack or even a fancy afternoon tea with lots of tasty accompaniments like whipped cream or citrus curd. They are an easy “homemade” item to offer to guests visiting throughout the summer. This basic recipe comes from “The New Best Recipe Cookbook” by the folks at Cook’s Illustrated who delight in analyzing multiple options in recipes. I have made countless flavor adaptations to the recipe depending on my mood, the season or a favorite flavors of my guests, and all have been successful due to the sound ingredient ratios. This version includes bright pink, orange and green shades of summer, the lovely floral aroma of cardamom, the fresh sweetness of strawberries and apricots and the crunch of roasted pistachios.
There are two essential key secrets to successful scones: 1) use cold butter and; 2) do not overmix the dough. I place the butter and cream in the freezer for a few minutes before mixing and have been known to chill the dry ingredients as well. A proper scone is very light and crumbly and so is its dough; The dough feels as though it is barely holding together. If you over-knead the dough, the finished texture will become tough. The cold butter chunks steam in a high heat oven to raise the dough. Therefore it is essential that you not over-incorporate the butter in the dough. You can use a quick pulse of a food processor, a pastry cutter or your hands to quickly press the butter into the flour. Chill the dough once it is combined and then lightly roll with a rolling pin, but don’t flatten. You will want the dough to be 1 1/2-2” high when you cut into pieces for baking. Once you perfect the process, you can choose to incorporate savory components as this recipe is not overly sweet.
Ingredients for 16 scones:
• 4 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 Tbsp. baking powder
•6 Tbsp. sugar
•1 tsp. salt
•1/2 tsp. cardamom
• 5 oz. butter, unsalted, 1/4” cubes, cold
• 2 cups heavy cream, cold
•1 Tbsp. orange zest
•1/2 cup pistachios
•1/2 cup strawberries, fresh, small dice
• 1/3 cup apricots, dried or fresh
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Sift or whisk together all dry ingredients.
3. Quickly add butter until mixture is a coarse texture with large lumps.
4. Add cream, orange zest, nuts and fruit just to moisten. Dough texture will feel as if it is falling apart.
5. Move dough to floured board. Lightly knead the dough until just combined. Texture will be crumbly. Cover dough and chill until firm.
6. Cut into triangles. Brush with cream. Dust with granulated sugar.
7. Bake 12-15 minutes until light brown. Tap bottom of scone and it should sound hollow. Cool on wire racks.
Manda Hudak is the savory chef instructor at The Culinary Institute of Montana at Flathead Valley Community College. She is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. For more information about the program, visit www.culinaryinstituteofmt.com.