The primary difference between American and British scones is the sugar. British scones do not use it. While I like my scones with a hint of sweetness, I just do not like them cloyingly sweet. I add some sugar, but not a lot.
When Jan and Eilene went to Devon this summer they fell in love with fresh clotted cream. I made some a few weeks ago and I was left with a cup and a half of defatted cream. I am making the second batch of scones with this “leftover.”
Normally I make scones with my orange-infused sugar, but I ran out last time and never made a new batch. Looking in my cabinet I found a jar of vanilla sugar that Miriam had bought me. This is not something I would have bought for myself, but I decided to give it a try.
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 American Vanilla Scones with Currents
2 cups cake flour
4 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2+ Tbs. vanilla 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. Heat oven to 400º F.
2. 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.
3. Stir in 2 tablespoons of orange-infused sugar.
4. Place the dry ingredients in a coverable bowl or plastic bag and put it in the freezer for at least an hour.
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.
Note: This time I am making it with the whey leftover from making clotted cream.
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 vanilla sugar.
19. Bake for 13 – 14 minutes, until well risen and golden.
Tip: Do not overcook or they will become dry and crumbly.
20. Serve immediately, while still warm from the oven.