Monday, February 18, 2008

Simple Sweet Scones by guest blogger Library Lady

I love scones. I have loved them ever since my first trip to England after college. Ever since then, I have checked out every scone cookbook I could get from the library in search of wonderful scone recipes. But the best book I've found for scones is one that I didn't get from the library-- I was shown it by my best friend, Christine, who got it from her mom. It's called "Biscuits and Scones" by Elizabeth Alston. Unfortunately, the book is out of print, but I did manage to find it used on Amazon.com .

The following recipe is the best basic scone recipe I've ever come across. I've used this as the basis for my Blueberry Scones-- recipe addition at the bottom of this post--, but it works wonderfully for lemon scones, simple cranberry scones, or whatever you desire. I recommend playing around with additions-- I'm sure you'll find something tasty!

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut up
1/4 cup granulated sugar (use 1/3 cup for slightly sweet scones)
2/3 cup milk

Instructions:

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Put flour, baking powder, and sugar into a large bowl; stir to mix well.
3. Add butter and cut in with a pastry blender-- or two knives held scissor style cut into the mixture-- until the mixture looks like fine granules or slightly sticky large crumbs.
4. Add milk and stir until a soft dough forms.
5. Sprinkle some flour onto the counter and cut the dough in half. Lightly knead the half about 6-8 times, turning it over while doing so.
6. Pat out the dough into a roughly 6-inch circle that's about 1/2 an inch high. Cut the circle into wedges and put the wedges on an ungreased cookie sheet.
7. Bake 12-15 minutes or until medium brown on top. Put on a linen or cotton dish towel on a wire rack; cover loosely with the cloth and cool completely before serving.
8. Repeat steps 5-7 with the second half of the dough.

Serve with jam, butter, clotted cream, or whipped cream if desired. Perfect with tea!

Cook's Thoughts:

1. You can use a round, 2-inch biscuit cutter instead of cutting scones into wedges. Roll up the scraps and keep cutting out scones until the dough is gone. This actually makes them the perfect size for afternoon tea.
2. Make sure the butter is all mixed in as this will affect the texture and moistness of the scones.
3. This is how you know the dough has the right amount of liquid: it will not stick to the spoon. If it sticks to the spoon, add a little more flour. If it won't stick together at all, keep adding a little more milk until it sticks together. This is very important as it will give you wonderful, moist scones. Trust me, I've made scones enough times that I know what the dough should look like.
4. The recipe does call for 1/2 teaspoon of salt, but since I don't use salt in my baking, I didn't include that, but you can if you wish.
5. To make blueberry scones: add 2 teaspoons cinnamon with the flour mixture; then add 1/2 pint of blueberries, rinsed and drained, after adding milk. Stir to mix and bake as directed above.
6. To make lemon scones: add 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon peel, or 1 tablespoon lemon extract to flour mixture. In a small bowl, mix 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice with 2 tablespoons sugar; top each scone with 1/4 teaspoon before baking.

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