I have never met a scone I liked. Every scone I’ve ever had has been dry, plain and crumbly. They were all like eating a stale biscuit. So, for the majority of my life, I’ve avoided them. Last week I decided I make them at home to see whether I would like them better. I did.
The recipe I used was the Simple Cream Scones recipe from The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook. I figure it’s always best to start with something simple. I added a vanilla bean to the recipe and the flavor of the scones was great. They didn’t crumble all over the place when I bit into them like ones I’d purchased from coffee shops did. They were soft and a bit moist inside instead of dry through and through. They were enjoyable, instead of being overly sweet. They were perfect for breakfast.
As with most recipes, I made a mistake on the first try. I left the oven rack in the upper third of the oven and didn’t rotate the scones halfway through the cooking process as instructed. I left them in a little longer than I should have, but they were still good. In fact, the next weekend I made them and added about a half cup of chopped strawberries to the mix and I liked them even more than the vanilla bean scones.
I’m glad I decided to make them at home because now I know that not all scones are dry and crumbly. Not all scones are bad biscuits. Not all scones are worth writing off.
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder (use 3/4 tablespoon if at high altitude)
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and chilled
1 vanilla bean
1 cup heavy cream
Adjust oven rock to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment on, stir flour, sugar, baking powder and salt until combined. Add butter and stir until mixture resembles coarse meal with some slightly larger pieces of butter.
Cut both ends off the vanilla bean and cut the bean in half lengthwise. Using the back of a knife, scrape the seeds from inside and add them to the mixture. Stir until just combined. Stir in cream until dough begins to form.
Turn dough and any floury bits onto a floured counter and knead until a slightly sticky ball forms. Pat dough into a 9-inch round and use a knife or pizza cutter to cut into eight wedges.
Place wedges on prepared baking sheet and bake until tops of scones are lightly golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes (10 to 12 minutes if at high altitude), rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack and let cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
The failure of scones is probably related to their longevity – shops just keep them around too long. Apparently, baking with care and using fresh ingredients makes great scones for personal enjoyment. 🙂