Monday, July 9, 2007

Feel Like You Are A Scone Master

I've made scones before but I've never made scones like this. I can't remember where I was reading about how Ina Garten (the barefoot contessa) has really amazing cake and baked goods recipes, but it inspired me to try out her scones. (So did the Amateur Gourmet's post about her scones.) The scones that I've made before were from a recipe of my Scottish grandma's, so they're quite different from the flaky scones of Ina Garten's.

One thing Ina says is really important is to make sure that the butter is cold and that it doesn't completely incorporate into the dough. She says that you want little pieces of butter, because when the butter cooks, the water in the butter evaporates and makes the scones flaky. After reading this I was really scared that I would overmix the dough (which is why I think I'm scared of pie crusts). I didn't have much faith that my scones would be light and flaky, and I had many fears that the pieces of butter were too tiny. But really how are you supposed to mix the butter in so its the size of peas? I had some pieces that were the size of grapes and some that were almost completely incorporated. So I just tried to break up the bigger pieces. I guess you have to really dice the butter beforehand into the size you almost want them to be.

I never knew until I saw the Amateur Gourmet's post about scones that this is how you get triangle shaped scones.

In any case, I was so insanely happy with how these scones turned out. So beautiful, so wonderfully moist, light and flaky. I was ecstatic to see how flaky the scones looked from the side. These scones are the best that I've ever had - and I'm not trying to be conceited or anything, if you follow this recipe yours will be the best ever too. It's just an awesome recipe. That being said, I didn't eat many of the scones because there was so much cream, eggs and butter in them. And just knowing what was in them it was hard to want to eat too many. There's also a glaze that's supposed to go on top but I didn't make it because I thought it would be too much (especially considering the fact that there's already sugar sprinkled on top of the scones, which makes for a nice crunchy top). I'll be making this recipe again but probably saving it for special occasions.

The recipe makes about 16 scones, which was way more than I expected. I would try halving this recipe next time - the dough was almost too much to fit and mix properly in my mixer. I used chopped dried apricots instead of the called for dried cranberries. I'm not sure why some of the apricots burned especially since I've seen apricot scones before and the apricots weren't burned. I'm not sure what I did wrong - maybe I needed to coat them in something? But the apricots on the bottom of the scone got burnt too. Other than that, the apricots were a good replacement for the cranberries. (And I feel like I've written the word apricot a billion times now. Apricot apricot apricot.) Now if only I could find a healthy whole wheat scone recipe that was flaky and wonderful like this one.

Apricot Orange Scones
(Adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten)

4 cups all-purpose flour
(plus 1/4 cup all purpose-flour)
1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
3/4 pound (3 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
4 extra large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 cup dried apricots, chopped

1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water, for egg wash

1/2 cup (plus 2 tablespoons) confectioners' sugar
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice

1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, whisk 4 cups of flour, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the baking powder, salt and orange zest. Add the cold butter and mix at the lowest speed until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the eggs and heavy cream and, with the mixer on low speed, slowly add to the flour and butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough will look lumpy! Combine the dried cranberries and 1/4 cup of flour, add to the dough, and mix on low speed until blended.

3. Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it into a ball. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll or pat the dough just under 1-inch thick. You should see small bits of butter in the dough. Keep moving the dough on the floured board so it doesn't stick. Flour a 3-inch round plain or fluted cutter and cut circles of dough. Place the scones on the prepared sheet pan. Collect the scraps neatly, roll them out, and cut more circles.

4. Brush the tops of the scones with the egg wash, sprinkle with granulated sugar, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are fully baked. The scones will be firm to the touch. Allow the scones to cool for 15 minutes and then whisk together the confectioners' sugar and orange juice, and drizzle over the scones.


The Cooking Ninja said...

Your scones are so beautiful. My other half loves scones. I must try your recipe for him. Perhaps I can surprise him for tea and make him a happy man :)

Ellie said...

Dangit, dried cranberries are next to impossible to find here! Do you think dried apricots would work well as a replacement?

lynn said...

Those scones look perfect! Good job! I posted a scone recipe a while back ( which makes little, dainty scones. Less guilt in a scone (but still plenty of butter, cream, and yumminess).

Patricia Scarpin said...

I haven't baked scones in ages and these are tempting!

wellunderstood said...

these are just gorgeous. some of the most beautiful i've seen, really . . .

eatme_delicious said...

thecookingninja: thanks! hope you and he enjoy the scones. :)

ellie: i used dried apricots as a replacement and they worked okay - the pieces that were on the bottom of the scone and sticking out the top got a bit burnt. you could try out another dried fruit, or omit them all together and just use the orange zest. maybe add extra orange zest if you do that.

lynn: thanks! perhaps mini scones are the way to go. :)

patricia: if you're going to bake any scones, these should be the ones!

wellunderstood: aw thank you :)

doolaik said...

just as a suggestion, maybe you should cut your butter into pea sized cubes to begin with... then you wouldnt have that issue of having varying sizes. just a thought.

ps. i didnt get a chance to read through the whole thing, but judging from your msn name, everything seems to have come out fine.

eatme_delicious said...

doolaik: I don't think I'd want to try to cut butter into pea size cubes. The butter would get all messy and melty. It's annoying enough to cut it into like 20 cubes. But yes making sure that all the cubes are of equal size to begin with would be good. And yes they turned out very well!

Maureen said...

I recently read a tip in the Globe and Mail for making "perfect" scones: Freeze your butter, then use a grater to get very uniformly small pieces. I imagine that this would work, if you hold the butter with the wrapper to avoid getting it all over your hands while grating!

As soon as I have the time and find the perfect recipe, I'm going to try the grating technique...

eatme_delicious said...

Maureen: Great tip. :) I've tried that when making shortbread but haven't tried it with scones yet. I should do that soon. Hope you find the time soon too. :)

Julie said...

These look amazing, I will definitely try them soon. Thanks to you, and Ina!

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Anonymous said...

I will try this today!!