Here’s a lofty, light, well-balanced, perfectly textured, and utterly delicious scone. This recipe produces such fantastic results that I rarely stray too far from the basic formula—with one exception and that involves the egg.
On occasion, I have actually forgotten to add the egg and didn’t even notice the faux pas until long after we had eaten all of the amazingly delicious scones, raving over every bite. So clearly that indicates that the egg is nice to have but not absolutely essential. In fact, you may not even notice if you forget to add it. Try it both ways and see what you think. If you do opt to forgo the egg, you will want to increase the liquid by ¼ cup. But (and I know this from experience), if you forget to do that, your scones will still be scrumptious.
2 cups King Arthur unbleached, all-purpose flour (9 ounces)
0-6 tablespoons sugar (none for savory scones and 4-6 tablespoons for sweet scones)
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda, ONLY IF acidic liquids are used, such as buttermilk, yogurt, sour cream, or crème fraiche
½-1 teaspoon fine sea salt (½ teaspoon for sweet scones and 1 teaspoon for savory scones)
8 tablespoons very cold, unsalted butter, cut into 16 equal-size pieces
1 large, very cold egg (or ¼ cup additional liquid)
¾ cup very cold buttermilk, cream, or half of each (or thinned yogurt, sour cream or crème fraiche)
Additional Ingredients (choose one)
2 ounces grated cheese, optional
½-1 cup dried fruit, such as currants, raisins, cranberries, blueberries, or cherries, optional
½-1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries, optional
Buttermilk, cream, or beaten egg, for brushing on tops prior to baking, optional
Demerara sugar, sanding sugar, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or chopped nuts, optional
unsalted butter, optional
favorite jam, optional
- In a mixing bowl, add and then whisk together the flour, sugar (if using), baking powder, baking soda (if using) and salt. Dump out onto a clean work surface.
- Distribute the butter over the dry ingredients and toss lightly to coat the pieces with flour. Using a large, heavy rolling pin, roll over the mixture to flatten the butter. Using a dough scraper, push the mixture together, and then repeat the rolling process. Repeat two more times, scraping off the rolling pin between each process.
- Scoop the mixture into a mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and fridge for at least ½ hour to chill the butter.
- Meanwhile, in a glass measuring cup with a pouring spout, whisk the egg, and then whisk in the liquid. Cover and fridge until needed.
- Remove the bowl from the frig and add the very cold liquid. Use a large, flexible spatula to gently fold the liquid into the developing dough so that the dough becomes uniformly moistened. Do not stir the dough!
- Add any optional ingredients now.
- Turn the dough out onto the floured work counter and very gently move it around a bit to ensure that all portions are uniformly moistened. Do not knead the dough!
- If desired (for extra flakiness), after the dough is formed, flatten somewhat and gently make 2 letter folds (as for flaky pastry or croissant dough) in opposite directions. This will help to build flakey layers in the baked scone.
- Pat the dough into the desired shape and then cut 8 equal-size scones. If there are scraps, push them together gently, pat into shape, and cut into the desired shape.
- Put the scones on a lightly oiled baking sheet and either bake or cover with plastic wrap and frig until ready to bake, as much as a day later.
- Just before baking, brush the tops (but not the sides) of the scones with buttermilk, cream, or beaten egg. Sprinkle with Demerara sugar or other garnish of choice.
- Ten minutes before baking, set an ovenproof dish filled with ¼ cup water on a rack in the bottom third of the oven. (The steam will enhance the scone’s rise.)
- Bake at 375° in the upper third of the oven for about 15-16 minutes, depending on scone size, or until the scones are light brown on the bottom and just golden on top. Do not overbake! Overbaking produces dry scones.
- Remove scones to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes before devouring them. Scones are at their absolute perfection within an hour out of the oven.
- To store, let the scones cool completely, then seal in an airtight Ziploc bag for as long as a day before eating. Otherwise, freeze the scones and later reheat in a 350° oven for 5 minutes or in a microwave for 10-15 seconds.
Makes 8 scones.
Copyright 2012 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.