The last time I made blueberry scones Eilene did not like them. I had thought she simply did not like hot, cooked fruit. In talking to her, I found out that what she did not like was the soggy bread around the fruit. Using dried fruit was the solution.
Scones have become a staple breakfast at our house and I make them at least twice a month. Over time my recipe for scones—closer to English, rather than American scones—has morphed. I have gradually increased the flour and milk and reduced amount of baking powder. I have also added sugar and tweaked my techniques, to be slightly more French.
Note: There are two ways of handling the combining of your flour and butter. The French way is to use cold butter that you roll into flakes. Here the point is to prevent butter from binding with the flour. While baking, the flour forms gluten sheets, which trap the steam from the butter, which then puff up the gluten sheets like balloons. The final product has a biscuit-like, flakey crumb.
For British scones, you use warm butter, that you then work into the flour with your hands. The point here is to get as much of the butter to bind with the flour as possible. This actually prevents much of the flour from creating gluten sheets. The remaining un-bound flour forms a more open gluten structure that has a more cake-like, tender crumb.
Karl’s Blueberry English Scones II
2½ cups AP flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
½ tsp. Kosher salt
2+ Tbs. Karl’s Orange Infused Sugar
6 Tbs. butter, chilled
1 egg, lightly beaten
milk, added to the egg to make 1 cup + 2 Tbs.
½ cup dried blueberries
1. Put a stick of butter—8 tablespoons—into the freezer for 15-20 minutes.
Tip: You want the butter to be very cold, but not frozen solid.
2. Preheat oven to 425º F.
3. Measure the flour, baking powder and salt in a flour sifter.
Tip: Sift the dry ingredients several times to mix them thoroughly.
Note: In England, they sell “self-rising flour,” which is generally used to make scones. This flour is simply these three ingredients mechanically mix to make an even blend.
4. Whisk n the sugar.
Note: The strands of orange zest in my sugar get caught in my flour sifter, so I add it later.
5. Using the large side of a box grater, grate six tablespoon of the butter into the flour.
Tip: Grate half the butter and then use a spatula to dust the flour over the better strands to prevent them from sticking together. The goal here is to get each butter strand separately coated.
Note: Chilling the whole stick gives you a bit of a handle to keep your fingers away the cutting edges of the grater.
6. Cut the butter into small pieces with a pastry cutter.
Tip: If you do not have a pastry cutter you may use a fork or two knives until it resembles crumbs. Unless you have very cold hands—like my wife—be careful not to melt the butter into the flour.
Note: I frequently set my scones up to this point the night before. Putting the flour mix in the refrigerator overnight completely re-chills the butter and give you a better rise, when you bake the scones.
7. Put the egg into a large one cup measuring cup and beat it well.
8. Add enough milk to make one cup of liquid plus a bit more.
Note: You will be using one cup of the egg/milk mixture to moisten the flour and the rest to brush the tops of the scones just before baking.
9. Add one cup of the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and gently fold the dough with a spatula.
10. When there is still some dry flour showing add the blueberries.
Tip: When there is no more dry flour showing, stop and let the dough rest for 5 minutes so that the flour has a chance to absorb all of the liquid.
11. Lightly flour a bread board and knead the dough 5-7 times.
Tip: You want to knead the dough enough to form the gluten sheets, but not so much that you melt the butter. I use a spatula to mix the flour and—after a bit of kneading—I switch to using a rolling pin to work the dough, so that my warm hands do not melt the butter into the flour.
12. Roll out the dough into a thin square, about 12 inches per side.
13. Letter fold the sides of the dough square into the center and then again top to bottom.
Tip: This will produce a four inch square of dough with nine layers.
Note: When I make these scones without the additions of the dried fruit, I roll out and letter fold the dough a second time. This process produces 81 layers of dough.
14. Roll the dough into a ½ inch thick square.
Note: How thinly you roll out your dough depends on how tall you like your scones. If you prefer you may roll your dough square as thickly as 1½ inches. You will end up with fewer taller scones. However, these scones puff up nicely—my scones come out of the oven 1½-2 inches tall.
15. I use a 2¾ inch biscuit cutter to make 8-9 round scones.
Tip: Using a biscuit cutter leave me with the scraps of dough around the edges. Gather them up and role it into a sheet and cut out more rounds. You will always end up with one ugly, last-bits scone.
Note: If you wish you may roll the dough into a 10 inch round and use a bread scrapper to cut the dough into eight wedges.
16. Put the scones on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and brush their tops with the remaining egg mixture.
17. Sprinkle a pinch of orange sugar over each scone.
18. Bake the scones for 14-16 minutes, until well risen and golden.
Tip: Rotate the tray half way through, to ensure that the scones bake evenly.
Note: Do not under bake the scones. If you take them out too soon the centers may come out gummy. It is a balance between burning the tops and baking all the way through.
19. Serve immediately, while still warm from the oven.