As much as I try to be healthy when it comes to breakfast, at least once or twice a week, I will give myself a break from poached eggs, oatmeal, smoothies or chia seeds. My guilty pleasures come in the form of pancakes, egg in a basket and, last Sunday, all butter scones.
It’s to the English we have to pay homage for many beloved desserts (or puddings, as they would say). Scones, that only recently became a breakfast pastry, started as oat cakes, flat and round, unleavened and cooked on a griddle some time around the Middle Ages in England. Once baking powder became available to all and sundry, scones became to resemble the tall and flaky rounds or triangles we eat today.
What is called a scone in the US is slightly different from a UK one (we even have different pronunciations), and more akin to a Southern biscuit. Most commercial scones are nothing to write home about, mainly because scones are best eaten fresh out of the oven – even half a day inside a pastry case will render them tough. And forget having them again the day after.
The recipe I use, which I absolutely love, I found in the recipe folders at the restaurant where I used to work and I am not sure who developed it first – it was one of our most requested recipes, so much so that I eventually scaled it down for home use and routinely e-mailed it to anyone who asked. I am partial to chocolate chip scones, but any variation will do: orange and pecan, cheddar and bacon, cranberry – virtually anything you like and wish to experiment with. For savory scones, just halve the amount of sugar.
Two tricks to perfect scones:
- freeze the butter, once you have cut it, prior to adding it to the flour;
- mix only until the dough comes together and handle it as little as possible.
I keep a batch in the freezer and bake them straight from it, whenever I feel like something luscious for breakfast. This step will add about 10 minutes to the overall baking time.
1 pound 2.5 oz (566 grams) AP Flour
8 oz (225 grams) Butter, cubed and frozen for at least 10 minutes
2 T Baking Powder
1/2 C Sugar
1/2 ts Salt
1 1/2 C Dark Chocolate Chips
2 C Heavy Cream + a bit more for dipping
- In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix all the dry ingredients until combined.
- With the mixer running on low, add the butter cubes and mix, on medium speed, until the dough resembles coarse crumbs. Add the chocolate chips.
- While the mixer is still running, on low-speed, pour the cream in a steady stream and mix until the dough just comes together.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and form the scones with your hands (or with a large scoop), shaping them into 2” to 3” balls with a flattened bottom. Alternatively, lightly roll the dough on a floured board to 1/2” height and cut into large triangles. You should have about 12 scones. At this point you can freeze them or bake as many as you need and freeze the rest. The scones can be baked directly from the freezer.
- When ready to bake, dip the top of the scones in some heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar. Place them on a parchment covered baking sheet and bake at 350F (180C) for about 20/25 minutes or until the top is golden (increase baking time by 10 minutes if baking the scones just out of the freezer).
- Let cool and eat immediately.
Images C&S and courtesy of Wikipedia