I am still trying to perfect my scone recipe. The last time I made scones I was half asleep and I added four cups of flour instead of four teaspoons of baking power. Fortunately I realized my mistake before I had added the butter. To recover I simply doubled the dry ingredients and then saved half in a plastic bag in the freezer for the next time I fancied scones.
This turned out to be a good thing. I cut the cold butter into the ice cold flour and then added cold milk and egg. I worked the dough as little as possible and I produced my best scones to date. They were rich, flaky and well browned. They were everything a good scone should be; cold and careful handling is the key.
I have difficulty making the same recipe the same way twice. In addition to the other changes I have made in this recipe, I am playing around with the flour mixture. Last time I used all cake four. This time I am using a mix of cake and all purpose flour.
The primary difference between American and British scones is the sugar. British scones do not use it. While I like my scones a hint of sweetness, I just do not like them cloyingly sweet. I add some sugar, but not a lot.
The scones that Jan and Eilene had in Devon usually had currents, So I have included them in mine lately. You can, however, leave them out or add any dried or fresh fruit you have on hand.
Karl’s Orange-Infused American Scones with Currents
1 cup cake flour
1 cup all purpose flour
4 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2+ Tbs. Karl’s Orange-Infused Sugar, separate uses
6 Tbs. butter, cold
¼ cup currents
1 egg, lightly beaten
milk, added to the egg to make ¾ cup
2 Tbs. cream
1. Measure the flour, baking powder and salt in a flour sifter. Sift the dry ingredients several times to mix them thoroughly.
Tip: The trick to any quick bread is to not overwork your dough. By completely mixing the dry ingredients you do not have to worry about pocket of baking power later when you add the wet ingredients.
2. Stir in 2 tablespoons of orange-infused sugar.
3. Place the dry ingredients in a cover-able bowl or plastic bag and put it in the freezer for at least an hour.
4. Heat oven to 400º F.
5. Return the flour mixture to the mixing bowl and Take the butter out of the refrigerator.
Tip: Many recipes call for you to bring the ingredients to room temperature before mixing. Scones are just the opposite. You want each ingredient to be as cold as possible while you are mixing. This includes your hands. If you have warm hands, dip them in ice water before handling your dough.
6. Slice the butter into thin pats and cut it into small pieces with a pastry cutter. Rock the cutter into the flour and butter pats and use a knife to clean the cutter between cuts.
Tip: If you do not have a pastry cutter I really recommend that you get one. They are not expensive and they make the task of cutting the butter quick and easy. You may use a fork or squeeze the butter with your fingers until it resembles crumbs, but this is slow and increases the chance of melting the butter into the flour. For good flaky scones, this is a bad thing.
7. Stir in the currents.
8. Put the egg into a measuring cup and beat it lightly.
9. Add enough milk to make ¾ of a cup of liquid and beat lightly to mix completely.
Tip: Many recipes call for buttermilk, whole milk or cream, but I use 1% lactose free for Eilene. Whatever you use, make sure that it is cold.
10. Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and gently fold the dough with a spatula.
Tip: Use the spatula to get the last of the milk/egg mixture out of the measuring cup before starting to blend the flour by folding it in from the edges of the bowl.
11. When there is almost no dry flour showing, stop and let the dough rest for 5 minutes in the refrigerator.
Tip: You do not want to overwork the dough. The more you work it, the more gluten is created. This is a good thing for breads, but a bad thing for scones and biscuits.
12. Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Flour your hands and pat the dough into a ½ inch thick square.
Tip: This is a major change from my last scone recipe. Instead of just cutting my scones out at this point I fold the dough.
13. Letter-fold the dough in thirds and pat the dough down.
Tip: Take the edge of the dough square that is away from you and fold about a third of the sheet to the middle. Take the edge that is closest to you and fold it to the middle over the other two folds.
14. You will now have a rectangle of dough. Letter-fold the long sides to the middle and then pat in down.
15. Flour your hands again and pat the dough into a ½ inch thick square.
Tip: How thin you pat your dough depends on how high you like your scones. If you prefer you may pat your square as thick as 1½ inches for a really tall, fluffy scone.
16. I use a bread scrapper to cut the dough into 9 or 12 portions.
Tip: If you really like round scones, you may use a cutter to make 2 to 2½ inch rounds. However, if you do this, you will have to gather up the scraps, reform them into a sheet and cut again. These second cuts will be a little tougher than the first cuts and you will always end up with one ugly, last-bits scone.
17. Put the scones on a Pam-ed baking sheet and brush the tops with the cream.
18. Sprinkle the tops with a bit of orange infused sugar.
19. Bake for 13 – 14 minutes, until well risen and golden.
20. Serve immediately, while still warm from the oven.