25 January 2007

Scones - From Scratch

I don't know where or when I tasted my first scone. Over the course of many years, I have searched for them at bakeries and coffee shops, and I'm always delighted when I find them. The perfect scone is not too dry and not too sweet, and it may be packed with blueberries, peaches, raisins, or cranberries. I think scones are best when paired with a perfect cappuccino.

I actually believe that scones are much more than they seem: Scones have a unique way of making you feel either sophisticated or Bohemian. Enjoy them with tea in the afternoon, and you're almost royalty. Walk through the bustling market with a scone in hand, and suddenly you're living an artist's life.

The best scones I've had to date were at Pike's Place Market in Seattle. We were in the area for a few days a couple of summers ago, and we had the opportunity to frequent a particular bakery on several mornings. Scones were baked fresh early in the morning and wrapped in paper for easy carrying. There, I could pick up a crumbly, not too sweet scone and enjoy it with a caramel latte on those cool Seattle mornings. Paradise, in my book.

Sadly, the scones in our neck of the woods are not on a level with those in Seattle. They tend to be overly dry, sometimes hard as a rock. Knowing my longing for good scones, my aunt bought me several quick scone mixes from King Arthur Flour. Those mixes were so easy to work with, and the scones they produced were surprisingly good. This week, emboldened by my success with the quick mixes, I decided to try making scones from scratch. I'm not particularly adept in the kitchen (some would actually say I am INEPT), so you can imagine my surprise when these scones came out of the oven with a golden color and perfectly crumbly texture.

If you enjoy scones, the quick mixes and many recipes are available at this website: King Arthur Flour Believe me, I'll be trying more of these recipes this winter. I may not get that Bohemian feeling I had in Seattle, but at least it will be fun trying.

Carl's Cranberry-Orange Scones

A classic flavor combination -- cranberry and orange -- is highlighted in these scones.

1 3/4 cups King Arthur 100% White Whole Wheat Flour (I used regular flour)
3 tablespoons sugar (next time, I'll add a bit more sugar)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon allspice
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into pieces
1/2 cup dried cranberries (I used Craisins)
6 tablespoons half and half
1 large egg, beaten to blend
2 tablespoons grated orange peel OR 1/2 teaspoon orange oil (I used orange extract)

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients, then add the butter, rubbing it in till the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the cranberries.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the half and half, egg and orange peel or oil. Add this mixture to the flour mixture and stir till the dough just comes together. Transfer it to a lightly floured work surface, knead it a couple of times, and shape it into a 1/2-inch thick round. Cut the round in half, and each half into 5 wedges.

Separate the wedges, and transfer them to a nonstick or parchment-lined (or lightly greased) baking sheet. Bake the scones in a preheated 400°F oven for about 10 minutes, or until they're golden brown. Yield: 10 scones. (In my oven, the scones took about 13 minutes to turn golden brown.)

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Yellow Fence said...

This sounds so yummy! I can't wait to try it. Thanks for sharing.


Maureen said...

I have fallen in love with the Cinnamon Scones at Caribou.

Sharon said...

They have cinnamon scones at Caribou? I have to have one. There are wild blueberry scones at Panera. Your recipe sounds easy enough for even me to make. I'll let you know how they turn out.