Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Be My Valen-scone?
Janet Here: Okay, so Rachel wins the I-Can-Make-My-Scones-in-a-Cute-Shape, Take-That Contest. But I'm telling you that this recipe for Currant Scones from the New Blueberry Hill Cookbook is the tastiest. And since we're 3,000 miles apart, she's just going to have to take my word for it. (Oh and I only had to make them once.)
Anyway, I've always enjoyed scones. Somehow they feel less caloric to me than muffins, and fewer calories, sadly, has been something I've been consumed with for most of my life. That said, I don't think I actually discovered them until I went to England in my 20s. I grew up in an era when chocolate chip cookies, cakes and pies were pretty much all the dessert options. Scones would have fallen under that odd ethnic category left to things like ravioli and Indian food — yeah that's right, I didn't have that until my 20s, too. My kids have no idea how lucky they've been. Anyway these are terrific! My husband ate one right off the baking pan.
2 cups unbleached white flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sweet butter
1/4 cup currants
grated rind from one orange (of if you're lazy like me, orange peel from a spice jar)
2/3 cup half-and-half
1 egg yolk plus 1 tablespoon water, mixed
Heat the oven to 425 degrees
Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Using a pastry blender or fork (that would be me) cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal (or you get bored and tired of doing it, which is what happened to me since I was using a fork). Stir in the currants and orange rind
In another bowl beat the egg lightly with a ford. Slowly beat in the half-and-half. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and combine thoroughly.
Pat the dough into a flat circle about 6-8 inches in diameter (I put down a little flour to prevent stickiness). Cut into six pie-shaped wedges. Place wedges on an ungreased baking pan, sides not touching. Brush the tops with the egg yolk and water mixture, and sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar.
Bake for 10-15 minutes until brown on top. Mine took 15.
What's your favorite scone recipe?
Rachel here: To answer my mother's question regarding favorite scone recipes (I'm pretty sure she's not asking me, but that hasn't stopped me from butting into her conversations yet, so...), the one that she used is my favorite of all time. Yes, that's right: the woman used my favorite scone recipe. I suppose it's fair, seeing as how the cookbook is hers and I never bothered to transfer the recipe to California. Still, though, this felt like a losing battle from the get go. And, as it turns out, it wasn't just a feeling. I bought myself a new cookbook the other afternoon when I found myself with a few hours to kill (a rare moment, for sure). Not only is this cookbook new, it is from a category in which I have never indulged before: baking. Now, of course, this isn't to say that I've never owned a cookbook with baking recipes in it. Far from it. Instead, what I mean, is that I've always bought my cookbooks for their breadth instead of their focus. Buying a cookbook that's just on baked goods always seemed sort of frivolous (this is so revealing about my personality, right? ugh) and, in turn, the actual purchasing of one felt nothing short of decadent. Not only is the cookbook super focused, it's super focused on food that has little to no nutritional value. I walked to my car with a bounce in my step and, instead of starting for home, I sat there and thumbed through each page, fantasizing about which insanely delicious looking/sounding treat I would make first.
Now, you may have noticed that I have withheld the name of this cookbook. This is because I tried one of the scone recipes from it twice and each resulted in its own special total failure. Were I making pretty much anything other than scones I would be completely willing to assume responsibility for these culinary disasters. The problem, though, is that if there is one thing in the world that I can bake it's scones. Ask my mother (I suspect it's why she used my favorite recipe). Ask John. Ask anybody, really. I can make scones. And so, to protect the innocent, I am keeping the name of this cookbook a secret in hopes that the next recipe I try from it will work out and then I will sing its praises. For the time being, though, I have to believe that the scone recipe is inept and/or riddled with typos...I simply refuse to believe that this recipe somehow stumped my scone-making prowess (Honestly? I was so maddened by my first failure that I got out of bed last night to try again...like, I couldn't sleep after making bad scones...another personality revelation, I'm sure).
And so, this morning, I turned to my old faithful, The Best Recipe by Cook's Illustrated. I've mentioned this tome before (and it really is a tome...it could keep your house grounded in a tornado it's so thick) and, though the scones I made were petite (my own decision), they are yummy...and, as my mother so begrudgingly noted (though I'm not sure why since I think she's got her own heart-shaped scone in her picture), certainly festive. A little jam, a cup of tea and a book and I couldn't be happier (although, I will reiterate, if you're making scones, use my mom's recipe from above because, truly, it's superior).
Citrus Honey-Nut Scones
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tspn. cream of tartar
1/2 tspn. baking soda
1/2 tspn. salt
1/4 c. chopped walnuts
2 T. lemon zest
4 T. butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 c. whole milk, plus extra for milk wash
1/4 c. orange juice
2 T. honey
Preheat oven to 450 degrees with rack in middle position. Whisk flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt. walnuts and lemon zest together. If you have a food processor, pulse everything except the lemon zest until combined and then add the zest, pulsing just to incorporate. Cut the butter into this mixture, using whichever method you prefer if working by hand (I have always been partial to the two-knives approach) or the steel blade of your food processor. You want the mixture to resemble coarse cornmeal with a few slightly larger clumps.
If you are working by hand, form this mixture into a well and add the milk, orange juice and honey to the middle. Quickly blend the ingredients into a soft, slightly wet dough. If you're going the food processor route, add the liquid through the feed tube, pulsing until the dough forms a rough ball.
Place your dough on a well-floured surface and roll it to 1/2 inch thick. Using a greased and floured cookie cutter, cute out your scones and place them on your baking sheet. The number of scones this recipe yields depends on what size cookie cutter you use. Swipe tops with a milk wash and sprinkle with demara sugar. Bake 10-12 minutes, rotating halfway.