Wife Jan is interviewing job applicants over the next two weeks. The university will only cater groups of 10 and there will only be five for breakfast during the interviews. Jan asked me to cater the sessions—deviled eggs, a baked good, and fruit salad. Today, I decided to go with American scones.
For the first interview I used some old standards—curried deviled eggs and biscuits. While the candidates would change each session, the interviewers remained the same. I tried to make a different flavor of deviled egg and a different baked good for each meeting.
Note: For may for my deviled eggs today, I decided to go a bit Italian.
After reading several sources on the internet, it seems the difference between an English scone and an American scone is the sugar. Although I have seen recipes claiming to be English that included sugar. The more sugar the more American the scones will be.
My original recipe called for using cake flour for a more tender crumb—the softer the flour the less gluten is formed. Over time, I have learned the trick of adding gluten free starch to make a flour softer. Adding potato starch to regular AP flour makes it harder for some of the glutenin and gliadin from forming gluten—making for a tender bread.
Karl’s Cinnamon Currant American Scones
2½ cups AP flour
¼ cup potato starch
4 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbs. cinnamon, ground
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. nutmeg, ground
¼ cup Karl’s Orange-Infused Sugar
8 Tbs. butter, softened
¼ cup Zante currants
2 eggs, well beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
milk, added to the egg to make 1 cup (I use 2% lactose free)
2 Tbs. cream
2 Tbs. brown sugar
1. Soften the butter by setting it on the counter for an hour and preheat oven to 375º F.
Note: I used to bake my biscuits at 400 º F, but I found that the breads would start to burn on top before they were done in the center. Lower and slower is better.
2. Measure the flours, baking powder spices, and salt into a flour sifter.
3. 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.
4. Stir in one quarter cup of the orange-infused sugar.
Tip: I have found that my orange infused sugar will not go through my sifter, so I have to add it after I mix up the rest of the dry ingredients.
Note: I increased the amount of sugar to make it more American.
5. Slice the butter into thin pats and cut it into small pieces with a pastry cutter.
Tip: If you do not have a pastry cutter you may use a fork or squeeze the butter with your fingers until it resembles crumbs. However, be careful not to melt the butter into the flour.
Note: The French bread making technique is to keep the butter cold to evaporate during baking to make bubbles in the gluten sheets. In British baking you work the butter into the flour. This coats the glutenin and gliadin preventing them from linking up to form gluten—making for a more tender bread.
6. Put the eggs and vanilla into a measuring cup and beat them well.
Tip: Beating the eggs first prevents making a mess as you try to beat the milk and eggs together.
Note: Lately, I have been adding a second egg to several of my baked goods to make them richer.
7. Add enough milk to make one cup of liquid and beat lightly to mix completely.
Tip: Many recipes call for buttermilk, whole milk or cream, but I use 2% lactose free milk for Eilene.
Note: You want a fairly dry dough you will be dividing the dough and patting them into two flat disks.
8. Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and gently fold the dough with a spatula.
9. When there is no more dry flour showing, stop and let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
Tip: I used to be worried about overworking the dough. The more you work a dough the more gluten is created. However between the potato starch and butter this is no longer a problem. You can safely kneed this dough as long as you do not go overboard—1 minute, not 5 minutes of kneading.
Note: Resting your dough allows the last of the dry flour to absorb the last of the liquid without creating more gluten.
10. While the dough is resting, line a large lipped baking sheet with parchment paper.
Tip: I used to grease my baking sheets, but the biscuits tended to stick and burn. The parchment paper needs no grease.
Note: For my last birthday, daughter Miriam got me a set of Sur la Table baking pans. These pans have a non-stick, pebbled surface that is amazing. I do not needed parchment paper when I bake with these pans, biscuits and even burned on sauces come right off.
11. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead it briefly.
12. Form the dough into a ball and use a knife or dough scrapper to divide the dough in half.
13. Pat each dough half into a ½ inch thick disk about eight inches across.
Tip: How thin you pat your dough depends on how high you like your scones. If you prefer you may not divide the dough and pat your disk as thick as 1½ inches thick for a really tall, fluffy scone.
Note: Dust your work surface well. You do not want to work more flour into your dough, but you also don’t want the bottom of the dough to stick when you transfer it to the baking pan.
14. Gently transfer the disks to a parchment lined baking sheet.
15. Use a dough scrapper to divide each disk into eight portions.
Tip: Push the pieces apart after you cut through the dough. You want each piece separated by about ¼ -½ inches.
Note: As the scones bake they will expand to fill in most of the gaps.
16, Brush the tops of the scones with the cream.
17. Sprinkle the brown sugar on the tops of the scones.
18. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until well risen and golden.
Tip: Rotate the pan half way through the time so that they bake evenly.
19. Separate any scones that have grown together and transfer them to a wire rack to cool for a few minutes.