“So.Da.Licious” scones made with a bit of luck

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Irish food was the theme for this month’s team potluck. Even though I’m one-quarter Irish, I didn’t know what to bake. I don’t have any family recipes that have been handed down for generations. So I did what I normally do when I’m trying to get an idea of what to make: I turned to Google. The problem was that the results were mostly for trifles, or were just desserts with whiskey in them. As much as I like whiskey, adding it to a recipe doesn’t make food Irish by default. When an acquaintance suggested I make soda bread, but dress it up so it was more like a dessert and divide it into smaller portions so it was like scones, I thought that was a brilliant idea.

The only issue was that, the one time I made soda bread—which was years ago—it turned out dry and not that great. But, with a few more years of baking under my belt, I felt I could tackle it this time around. After looking through an array of recipes, I didn’t find one that quite fit the bill. So I used a few different recipes to get an idea of the ingredient ratios and came up with my own. And they turned out so well that one of my coworkers emailed me saying they were “So.Da.Licious.”

Ingredients
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup oats
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups heavy cream
6 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup dried cherries, chopped
Coarse sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, baking soda, and salt. Add lemon juice, cream, and honey. Stir in cherries. Divide the dough into four portions. Using floured hands, shape each portion into a disc that’s about an inch thick. Cut disc into four sections and place individual pieces on cookie sheets. Press about a teaspoon of coarse sugar onto the top of each scone. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Serve.

Smashing expectations with simple scones

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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.scones2

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.

scones4Ingredients
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.