Improving my morning scone
Scones are lovely when properly made, but many store bought versions are lackluster at best. I knew better than to purchase one at Starbucks the other day — none of their food is worth spending my money on — but they looked so pretty, sprinkled with sugar and piled high under a glass dome next to the cash register. I couldn't help it. I caved.
Maybe it would be different this time, I thought. Maybe this particular scone would have real flavor and a tender crumb, maybe it would bring back memories of clotted cream and jam at high tea. No such luck. I choked down the dry, bland crumbs with my Venti half-caff and swore I'd never waste my hard earned money on a Starbucks pastry again. It was time to start baking scones at home.
I tried a few different sources before declaring Cindy Mushet's cream scone from The Art & Soul of Baking the winner of my find-the-best-scone-recipe contest. Rich flavor + tender crumb + crisp crust = a good morning. I added orange zest and fresh rosemary to the dough for a different twist, though I baked three batches before I was really pleased with the results.
The first batch was tasty but the flavors were a little too faint. Batch two was a classic case of overcompensation — too much orange zest resulted in a slightly bitter scone (not what I want in my morning pastry). The third go round proved most satisfactory, a nice balance of sweet and savory, no trace of bitterness, but not cloying. As always, use the following recipe as a starting off point and make adjustments to suit your taste buds. A drizzle of orange glaze (1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1-2 tablespoons of fresh orange juice) would be a nice touch if you like a sweeter scone.
And now my mind focuses not on work to be done, but scone varieties: classic currant, lemon-poppy seed, ginger, blueberry. As I write, Mushet's buttermilk raisin scone recipe beckons — additional scone postings are very likely to follow.
Orange Rosemary Scones
Makes 8 scones
Adapted from The Art & Soul of Baking
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
zest of 1 orange, finely grated
2 heaping tablespoons rosemary, chopped
1 stick (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup chilled heavy cream
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon sugar and a touch of brown sugar for topping
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Place the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a food processor and process for several seconds to combine. Add the orange zest and rosemary and pulse again. Add the butter and pulse a few times, until cut into small pieces. Add the cream and pulse until the dough begins to clump together. I opted to finish pressing the dough together by hand on a work surface rather than risk over processing.
Pat the dough into a 1-inch thick circle, roughly 7 inches in diameter, then cut into 8 equal wedges. Place the wedges on the prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart, then brush the tops with lightly beaten egg (there will be some left over) and sprinkle the tops with sugar.
Bake in the center of the oven for 14-16 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes before serving. The scones are best served the same day, but (despite Cindy Mushet's warnings) I found they were still acceptable 24 hours later if stored in an airtight container.