I keep craving "perfect winter foods" these days, and scones certainly fit the bill. Hillary and I have been talking about making scones for some time now. We finally got around to attempting them on a cozy, snowy Saturday afternoon. They were actually much easier and faster to make than I anticipated, which is an added bonus.
I really wouldn't change anything about the recipe below - however in the future I might experiment with different flavors such as chocolate chips, dried cranberries or crystallized ginger....or even all of those things together.
Cream Scones (From America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook)
2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
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
1 cup heavy cream
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees.
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 currants. 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.
Form scones by either a) 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 b) patting the dough onto a lightly floured work surface into a 3/4-inch thick circle, cutting pieces with a biscuit cutter (as you can see we used the lid of a jar!), and pressing remaining scraps back into another piece and cutting until dough has been used up.
Before baking, we also scored the edges of the scones with a knife to make them look more finished, or cuter, really. Scones are pretty cute no matter what, but this technique makes them a tiny bit cuter.
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.
As the scones baked, we prepared some tea and got all the fixings ready for a little tea party. After researching the traditional pairing for scones, clotted cream, we discovered that it is virtually impossible to recreate at home, so we settled on making some traditional whipped cream. We did this the old fashioned way, with just a chilled bowl, a whisk, and lots of stirring. Making whipped cream this way teaches patience and endurance. We added a teaspoon of vanilla extract and approximately two teaspoons of sugar to the cream, however, since the scones are nice and sweet, in the future I would leave out the sugar when making whipped cream as a scone topping.