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After canning 48 jars of jam, and 10 jars of freezer jam last weekend, it was clear that we  survived took part in what was likely the first of several episodes of  The Great Jam Making Marathon of 2011.  Naturally, with all of that homemade jam around I had to bake something to put it on.

It was the right thing to do.

I may or may not have whipped up a ginormous batch of cream scones studded with currants.  We may or may not have inhaled eaten all of the scones with nearly two full jars of jam.

Maybe.

There is no photographic evidence of the gluttony that might have taken place in my dining room.

Thank goodness.

On a slightly related note, it’s been raining a lot this week. Were talking thunderstorms, gale force winds, down trees, and power outages kind of raining. This has been my view from the porch this week.

Dark. Dreary. Wet.  Did I mention the perpetual darkness? The lack of natural light made it perfect weather for ridiculous amounts of baking, but not so perfect for photographing said baking.

My apologies for the shadowy photos. :)

But I did make more scones for you guys. That counts for something, right? The recipe is a scaled down adaptation of an Ina Garten recipe–Ina knows her way around a scone! This is probably one of the easiest, most basic traditional scone recipe around with the added bonus of no pastry blender or cutting in of the butter required. The mixer does all of the work so that you have plenty of time to create delicious flavor combinations.  The resulting scone is a lightly sweet and buttery wonder that you can play around with to suit your own tastes.

You’ll need: all-purpose flour, kosher salt, baking powder, granulated sugar, unsalted butter, eggs, and dried fruit.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (F) and line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.

Dump the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder into the bowl of a stand mixer.  This recipe can be made with a hand mixer, so no worries if you don’t have a stand mixer.  Give it a whirl on low speed to combine the dry ingredients.

Put the chilled butter on a cutting board and cut it in half lengthwise–it is very important that the butter is straight from the ‘fridge so that it is very cold. Mine was obviously on the counter a little too long while I scoped out somewhere in the house with a little light coming in for the photos. Oops.

Flip the butter over a quarter turn, then slice it in half lengthwise again so that the butter has been quartered lengthwise.

Then make a series of 1/2 inch cuts widthwise, making 1/2 inch cubes.

Sprinkle the butter cubes into the dry ingredients.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly work the butter into the flour until the butter is the size of small pebbles.  Slow is the way to go to keep the gluten in the flour from getting too developed, thus making the scones tough.

Measure the cream into a liquid measuring cup, then crack the eggs into the cup.

Lightly whisk the eggs into the cream until blended.

With the mixer on low speed, gradually pour in the egg mixture, stirring until just combined.

The dough will be very sticky.

Add the dried fruit of your choice to the dough. I went with currants, but golden raisins, dried cherries, or cranberries are also nice. Very briefly work the dried fruit into the dough.

Turn the dough onto a clean and lightly floured surface.

Sprinkle a little more flour on your hands and on top of the dough so that it can be shaped a bit before rolling out.

Gently roll the dough into a rectangle, about 1/2 inch thick. I’ll be honest–I usually just eyeball it, but I measured it for the sake of illustration.  Mine were a little on the thin side, but I didn’t want to work (read: toughen) the dough any more than necessary, so I called it good rather than re-doing it. I’m a rebel like that.

Trim the edges with a sharp knife, or a bench scraper.

Divide the rectangle into 4 (ish) inch squares.  They don’t have to be perfect, just square (ish).

Then make diagonal cuts across the squares to form triangles.  Use a thin spatula to transfer the triangles to the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1/2 inch apart.  Repeat the process with the dough scraps.

Since scones are so much prettier with a golden sheen to them, I made an egg wash by combining an egg with a couple teaspoons of cream.

Then I brushed the tops of the scones with the egg wash.

BTW–if you are like me and like to shine-up the tops of your baked goods, I highly recommend having a pastry brush dedicated to the cause.   Nothing ruins a batch of scones faster than brushing on an egg wash with a basting brush that last smeared barbecue sauce on something. But I digress…

Sprinkle a little sugar over the egg wash for a touch of sparkle.  I like sparkly things.

Bake at 40o for about 15 minutes, or until the scones are golden brown around the edges.  Allow them to cool on the baking sheets for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to completely cool.

Serve with a heaping spoonful of jam. 

♥♥♥

Basic Cream Scones

Recipe adapted from Ina Garten

via http://comfortablydomestic.com

Yield: 12 Scones

Prep Time: 25 minutes, Cook Time: 15 minutes, Total Time: 40 minutes

2 C. all-purpose flour

1 Tbs. baking powder

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 Tbs. granulated sugar

6 Tbs. unsalted butter, chilled

½ C. heavy cream

2 large eggs

1/3 C. dried fruit (currents, cherries, blueberries, or golden raisins are nice.)

Additional cream and another egg for an egg wash, plus extra sugar for sprinkling. (Optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and line a couple of sheet pans with parchment or silicone baking mats; set aside.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large bowl, with an electric mixer.
Cut the cold butter into ½ inch cubes, and then sprinkle the cubes into the flour mixture. It is very important the butter is very cold, so leave it in the refrigerator until you are ready to cut it up for use. Work the butter into the flour mixture with an electric mixer on low speed, until the butter has been broken into pebble sized pieces. Turn off the mixer.
Whisk the cream and eggs together until incorporated. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the egg mixture into the bowl, stirring until just combined. Add the dried fruit into the bowl, and mix for a few seconds more to distribute. Dough will be very sticky, and chunks of butter will be visible—that just means the scones will be wonderful.
Transfer dough to a clean, well floured surface.  Sprinkle a little more flour on top, and roll out to a uniform ½ inch thickness. Press a bench scraper or sharp knife through the dough to cut 4 inch squares, then make a diagonal cut through each square to make triangular scones. (Or use a round biscuit cutter.) Use a thin spatula to transfer the triangles to the prepared baking sheets, about 1/2 inch apart.
If desired, make an egg wash by combining an egg and a splash (about 2 tsp.) of cream. Brush the egg wash onto the top of the scones, and sprinkle with additional sugar.

Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until scones are golden brown outside, and done in the middle. Allow scones to cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheets before transferring them to a wire rack to cool.
Serve topped with fresh jam and with a steamy mug of tea alongside.

Other ideas: add a few teaspoons of orange zest with dried cranberries, or a couple of teaspoons of lemon zest with dried blueberries, or 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon with golden raisins. Have fun! Play around with it!

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