Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sometimes I Crave a Scone

Sometimes I crave a scone- a buttery, sweet (but not too sweet), flaky, warm scone. I have tasted many-a scone at coffee shops and bakeries. Some are moan-able and others I could pass up. I think of scones as somewhere between a muffin and a biscuit. I have also found that there are scone people and not-scone people. I am not sure what that is, but I can tell you if you ever wanted to find out which you are, this is the recipe I would recommend you use for your evaluation.

For years I have sought out the “perfect recipe” for scones. I was having some moderate success but then I found it. The perfect scone recipe. I discovered it in The Bread Bible, a book that Bread-Mentor-Steve recommended to me. Many of the recipes in this book are rigorous and technically challenging to me. (You know a cookbook is intense when it gives the measurement for ingredients in weight as well as traditional measure- for example: water - 1 liquid cup or 8.3 ounces) The scones, however, are straightforward and produce a lovely and consistent outcome!

I started making them a couple of years ago and because it makes a large batch, I found myself racing to eat them (and share with others) before they got stale, or halving the recipe. Then I tried freezing some and found that, if they are sealed well, they can be frozen, thawed, and warmed in the oven and they taste day-1 fresh.

They have been the crave for the past couple of weeks. I have had two requests for them from people who have been “thinking about them lately”. So, I decided to make them, send some to my kids’ teachers, bring some to my co-workers, and have pictures to show you of the process.

Flaky Scones
(adapted from the Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum)

1 cup butter, cold
4 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup (or more) dried cranberries

[I always lean towards cranberry, or sometime apricot, but you can make yours with whatever you like.]

Cut cold butter into 1- inch cubes.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the butter and with your fingertips, press the cubes into large flakes. (Or use an electric mixer). Stir in cream just until the flour is moistened and the dough starts to come together in large clumps.

Stir in the dried cranberries.

Knead the dough in the bowl just until it holds together, and turn it out onto a lightly floured board.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees 30 minutes before baking. Have a baking stone or sheet in the oven before preheating.

Lightly flour the top of the dough, and roll it out into a long rectangle 1-inch thick and about 8 X 12 inches.

Keep the edges even by smacking a large knife against the sides of the dough.

Fold the dough in thirds, lightly flour the board again, and rotate the dough.

Roll it out again and repeat the “turn” 3 more times. Roll out the dough once more. Trim the edges so that it will rise evenly.

Cut the dough in half so that you have 2 pieces. (Notice my sophisticated method of measurement)

Cut each piece of dough into triangles.

Place them on the warm stone or baking sheet with one inch between.

Bake the scones for 15 minutes or until the edges begin to brown and the tops are golden and firm enough so that they barely give when pressed lightly with a finger. Do not over-bake!

Place 2 cotton towels on two large racks and, using a spatula, lift the scones from the baking sheets and set them on top. Fold the towels over loosely and allow them to cool (see photo at top of post).

[To reheat: Bake at 300 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes on until warm to the touch.]


  1. I've been a recipient of these warm, melt-in-your-mouth scones, and I can vouch that they are the BEST!! I'm so excited to have your recipe, Julie! Question that might be obvious, but oh well-when you fold the dough into thirds and rotate, do you then roll out the dough over the folds, or unfold first?? I'll let you know how they turn out-I might have make them this weekend..:) Have you ever put orange zest in the mix?

  2. I can't wait to try these when I (soon) get my new kitchen and an oven that works! I've made lots of biscuits, but never a scone. I so wish I could eat one of yours straight from the oven, my friend. Yummy!

  3. Melissa, good question- you roll the dough over the folds, to bring it back to it's normal size. There is something about that folding that makes the layers of flaky buttery goodness! And yes, I love orange zest in scones, especially with cranberry! (I will say that I tried frozen blueberries as the fruit in the scones and I felt that the flavor overpowered the taste of the pastry).

  4. Julie- Do you knead the dough by hand or do you use the dough attachment on the mixer?

  5. Amy, I sometimes mix the ingredients in the mixer (dough attachment works well but not necessary) but then I knead the dough by hand. It is not very much kneading and you don't want to work it too much. The folding and rolling is the magic I think.