how to make the best scones

Tea and scones are the perfect Mother's Day treat. Now, while scones are notorious for being dry, we've perfected the art of making scones for one that's got a moist, delicate crumb and a crisp exterior. Not to mention, they can be made in advance, so you can just pop them in the oven for just 15-20 minutes in the morning when you're ready to go. 

I'm going to give you my basic scone recipe with a few variations, so you can work with whatever ingredients you have in your pantry.

Featured below: parsnip with cinnamon, cardamom, white chocolate + currant (like a carrot cake), and savory sun dried tomato with basil.

To help you get started:

The key to a good scone is the fat.

Fat = flavor, so don't be afraid of that butter or cream. If you don't have cream, you can substitute with egg yolk and milk (whole, oat, whatever's on hand).

For a dairy-free substitute, try coconut oil or vegan butter from Miyoko's creamery + coconut cream to substitute the cream. 

Scone dough needs to be COLD.

When it goes into the oven, the frozen bits of butter puff up and create pockets, creating perfectly risen, flaky scones. Warm dough won’t release the steam that makes a scone rise in the same way that cold dough does.

Freeze the butter for at least 10 minutes before you start to make the dough, keep your heavy cream cold and work quickly — your hands hold a lot of heat!

After making the dough, put it in the freezer for at least 20 minutes to ensure it's cold and will retain its shape while baking.

Fold your dough to create layers.

To layer your butter and get a flakey scone, fold the dough over itself 4 times, rotating the dough from you, to create layers. Avoid overworking the dough, as excessive handling may activate the gluten in the flour, giving your scones an undesirably hard texture.

Use a cold bench scraper.

This nifty tool will easily cut butter into your flour mixture, quickly scrape the dough up, and allow for less contact with your hands.

Let your scones rest for 10 minutes on a wire rack.

Try not to dive in too quickly. You'll release the steam that's kept inside the scone. Keep it moist by giving it about 5-10 minutes, and you’ll be rewarded with an utterly crisp exterior with a moist crumb.

Only eat freshly baked scones.

Bake as many as you need at a given time. Holding baked scones until the next day will cause them to dry out and have a soggy exterior.

scones recipe how to make moist not dry

Your basic scone dough:

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour 
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ¾ tablespoons baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • 4 tablespoons frozen butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • ½ cup frozen fruit (strawberries, blueberries)
  • 2 tablespoons herbs or other add-ins (basil, lavender)
  • ¾ cup chilled heavy cream, plus more for brushing
  • Turbinado sugar to finish

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Using a bench scraper, cut the butter into the flour mixture until evenly distributed and crumbly, like the texture of coarse meal with small, pebble-sized bits of butter throughout.
  4. Add the frozen fruit and herbs, or other add-ins, coating them with the flour.
  5. Pour the heavy cream over the dry mixture, and stir just until the dough comes together. There will still be some dry floury bits at the bottom of the bowl.
  6. Transfer everything from the bowl onto a pastry board and mound together. Flatten to a disk about ¾ inch thick, using your palms.
  7. Using your bench scraper, fold the dough over in half. Flatten and shape to a ¾ inch disk. Rotate 90 degrees. Repeat this step 3 more times.
  8. Cut your circle of dough into eight triangles, then freeze for at least 10 minutes.
  9. When you’re ready to bake, brush the tops with cream or egg white. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar to add crunch.
  10. Bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before eating.

For your healthy version that tastes the same

  1. Use your choice of flour. Whole wheat, buckwheat, spelt, oat, brown rice, quinoa - I've tried it all, and they all work.
  2. Don't want butter? Try freezing ghee or coconut oil.
  3. Instead of sugar and heavy cream, replace with:
    • ¾ cup chilled milk of choice
    • 1 egg yolk
    • 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup stirred in 

    Your vegan version that, yes, still tastes the same

    1. Instead of heavy cream, use coconut cream.
    2. Instead of butter, try Miyoko's vegan butter or coconut oil.

    Variations:

    Sweet

    • Strawberry basil
    • Blueberry sage
    • Blackberry lavender
    • Peach rosemary
    • Candied ginger and black sesame
      • In place of the fruit and herbs, throw in chopped candied ginger and black sesame seeds

    Savory

    • Sun dried tomato + basil
      • mix 1 tbsp of tomato paste with your cream, and toss chopped sun dried tomatoes
    • Cheddar mustard 
      • add 1/4 cup of grated cheddar, and mix mustard seeds with cream

     

    Do you have any ideas for scone variations?

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