I wasn’t introduced to scones until I was an adult. When I was growing up, for breakfast we had cereal, oatmeal, farina and my favorite at the time, wheatena. I knew muffins - made ‘unhealthy’ by my addition of butter slathered on them. (and all the way to the edge, no plopping just in the middle for me) And I knew cupcakes - ah, the icing. I even knew biscotti - (from my father’s Italian side of the family) but because they were store bought, I thought they were as hard as rocks, and I didn’t drink coffee at the time to soften them up. Scones? Never heard of them.
I might say they’ve been an acquired taste for me, because of the texture. I thought at first they were a little hard, maybe even a little dry, but not so much they had to have butter or icing to make them edible. I know some people put jelly on them, but I’m not too sure about that. And still, I’ve come to appreciate them, even love them, as I try out the many recipes I’ve found for them. Chrissy makes a wonderful Figgy Scone that doesn’t have to be shaped, they are just “dropped”. They are delicious!
So, in celebration of Chrissy and Pete arriving safely, and because we have 10 inches of snow and it’s a good day to be inside baking, I made these craisin nut scones, a recipe originally found in ‘The Baker’s Companion’ by the King Arthur Flour company.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup oatmeal - the old fashioned variety
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt, to taste
1/2 cup brown sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold butter, unsalted (If you don’t have unsalted, just reduce the salt in recipe a little)
1 (scant) cup of craisins - if they are very ‘big’, chop them a bit
1 cup diced toasted pecans and/or walnuts
1 cup buttermilk
(I hardly ever have buttermilk in the house. I add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar, although you can use lemon juice too, to a cup of milk and let it sit 5 to 10 minutes to “sour”)
If you don’t already have some toasted nuts on hand (I make them once in awhile when the oven is on anyway, and keep them in a plastic bag in the freezer) just put some on a cookie sheet in a 400 degree oven for about 8 to 10 minutes. Check them after 5 minutes, maybe even turn them over.
You can preheat your oven to 500 degrees. (Yes, I said 500)
Also, get your cookie sheets ready beforehand. Use two sheets, and cover them with parchment paper. If you don’t have any parchment paper, stop baking and go out and get some. You’ll thank me later.
Mix together the dry ingredients, including the brown sugar, in a large mixing bowl. Add the cold butter, cut into small pieces, and mix with a pastry cutter or your fingertips (I use my hands - it’s easier) into the dry ingredients and work the mixture till it resembles cornmeal.
Mix in the fruit (I used a combination of regular flavored craisins and the cherry flavored ones. Yum!)
and mix in the nuts. (Again, I used a combo. I love toasted walnuts, but the recipe originally called for pecans, so I used both)
Stir in the buttermilk (or sour milk) only until it is all mixed well. Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead 8 to 10 times till it comes together.
Now this is the tough part about scones. This mixture is very wet. It doesn’t “come together” easily, and it is so sticky. I hate that mess on my hands. I use a baker’s bench knife, or a silicone scraper to work the dough.
After the mixture seems to be holding together well enough, pick it up with the scraper and put it on the parchment lined cookie sheet. Now either with a flour coated rolling pin, or flour coated hands (easier….less to wash) coax the dough into a disk, 8 to 10 inches in diameter. Cut straight down (don’t use a sawing motion) and divide disk into 8 wedges.
Turn the oven down now to 450, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, till they just begin to brown. I rotate and turn the pans about 10 minutes in. You can ice the scones (1 cup confectioners’ sugar with 3 tablespoons heavy cream - use milk if you don’t have the heavy cream) or sprinkle them with some baking sugar crystals.
Put a decorator’s bag or a regular plastic bag into a cup and put your icing in that. Then you can snip off the edge of the bag, and decorate easily.
Till next time…….. Luci
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