Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dreamy Cream Scones

This weekend, inspired by Nick Hornby's Juliet Naked, my book club threw a proper English tea party.  Well actually, I can't vouch for how proper it was since non of us are English.  And the large bottle of Cook's champagne might not be a part of a traditional tea...  Neither would the inappropriate stories that were told after said champagne.  But it was a tea nonetheless, and the scones I brought were right proper indeed.  If your only scone experiences have been at the snack kiosk at Starbucks, then you're in for a treat (btw not knocking the 'Bucks, I live and die by the fruit and cheese plate).  Scones are a cousin of the biscuit, fluffy and slightly savory, not as sweet or dense as a muffin.  They're best fresh out of the oven, and these buttery wonders practically melted in my mouth. 
                         
Sigh...  Look at Lucy's gorgeous tea set.  One day I won't be a mess, and will own nice things like this. 

Start by sifting some flour into a bowl...

The amazing action shots in this post are courtesy of my BF John Francis, who took all the photos and didn't even get to eat one scone.

And add some baking powder, sugar, and salt.

Then cut in some cold butter with a pastry cutter.  Or two butter knives.  Or your fingers (just do it quickly so your warm fingers don't soften the butter too much). 

Your butter is mixed in when the flour looks crumbly, with a few bigger buttery chunks (this is what makes it flaky!)
 
Now, stir in your fruit and/or nuts (I used cherry-flavored craisins).
 

Then comes my favorite part, because it's butter + cream!  Add some heavy cream to the mix, and give it a good stir.
 
 Now here's where it can get a bit tricky...  You want to mix the dough enough to incorporate all the cream and make it roll-able, but you don't want to over mix.  Overmixing = hockey puck scones (and hockey pucks are for Canada, not England).

I used my hands, and just gently mixed the dough until it was a crumbly ball, then I flipped it out onto my countertop.
                           
I very gently kneaded it until it was a uniform ball of dough without clumps of flour.
 
Let's not talk about my hands please...  Thanks.

Then roll the dough into about an 8" round.
 
And cut it into 8 triangles (if you're on a cutting board, use a knife or pizza cutter.  If you're on a granite countertop in a house that you rent, keep that blade away from your precious counter.  I used a metal spatula.
 

 
Now let these bad boys bake at a toasty 425 for 12-15 minutes.  Mine took exactly 12 minutes for the tops to get golden and lovely.
 
If you want to host your own classy tea party, make some cucumber and radish sandwiches.  Don't forget to cut the crusts off!
 
Shannyn brought these!  I'm still working my way through my Galaxy caramel bar, and I will miss it and weep when it's gone.
 

 
Just keepin' it classy...  That's how my book club rolls.

Dreamy Cream Scones
America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook
(via www.smittenkitchen.com)
2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, preferably a low-protein brand such as Gold Medal or Pillsbury
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup currants (I used cherry-flavored craisins)
1 cup heavy cream

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425°F.

Place flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in large bowl or work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. Whisk together or pulse six times. 

If making by hand, use two knives, a pastry blender or your fingertips and quickly cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few slightly larger butter lumps. Stir in fruit. If using food processor, remove cover and distribute butter evenly over dry ingredients. Cover and pulse 12 times, each pulse lasting 1 second. Add currants and pulse one more time. Transfer dough to large bowl.

Stir in heavy cream with a rubber spatula or fork until dough begins to form, about 30 seconds.

Transfer dough and all dry, floury bits to countertop and knead dough by hand just until it comes together into a rough, sticky ball, 5 to 10 seconds (mine was more like a minute, but I kneaded lightly). Form scones by pressing the dough into an 8-inch cake pan, then turning the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, cutting the dough into 8 wedges with either a knife or bench scraper (the book’s suggestion), or do what I did and roll a mound of dough into a rough circle, then cut the circle into 8 wedges.  The edges won't be uniform, but they'll be rustic and pretty. 

Place rounds or wedges on ungreased baking sheet and bake until scone tops are light brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

3 comments:

  1. The scones were delicious. These pictures make our book club seem so grown up. I think we should call it "Fancy Nancies" from now on.

    ReplyDelete
  2. OMG I love the Fancy Nancies.

    ReplyDelete

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