Baking with a Bad Altitude by Mike Wheaton :
Scones are simply delicious and so simple to make. Cut out the hassle of cutting butter by hand and use a food processor to speed up the process. The following is my story on how I figured out how to make a batch in less than a half an hour:
One day while picking up my kids from school. I overheard several mothers discussing plans to host a baby shower for a fellow mother-to-be. Aside from the typical banter regarding which registry the new mom to be was on and the various gift ideas each mom planned to purchase, a conversation about what food to provide soon followed. “She requested scones,” asked one mother. “Where can we find scones?” replied another. “Go ask Mike.” exclaimed another. “He’s a foodie. He’ll know where to find them.” Soon enough the mom in charge of planning the baby shower stepped right up to me. “Do you know where I can find scones around here? “Have you tried Posh Pastries?” I answered. “Yes, but I have to pre-order as we need such a large amount and there simply isn’t enough time.” “Well I guess I can make them for you.” I added. “You can? How wonderful.” She replied.
It must have been 20 years since I made scones but that wasn’t going to stop me. I always love a challenge however creating several dozen batches with various flavors made me stop and think. How could I make the process quick and easy – considering that the last time I made scones, cutting in the butter was an arduous process?
“Cutting in” means incorporating the butter into the flour in such a way that little lumps of the raw butter remain whole within the flour mixture. When the dough is baked, these little lumps create separation in the structure of the product, which is what gives it that flaky consistency.
The thought of using a food processor soon came to mind. It worked like a charm. In the matter of just a couple of hours I was able to make a dozen different batches. The scones received rave reviews and I still get requests for these scones today.
Here is the recipe:
Ingredients for the scones
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick of unsalted butter, frozen
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1 lemon – zested
1/2 cup sour cream
1 large egg
Ingredients for the icing
2 cups of confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
1 lemon zested
1 lemon juiced
- Adjust oven rack to just under the middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees
- With a sharp knife, cut one stick of frozen butter into several equal pieces
- In a food processor, combine 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, lemon zest, salt and frozen butter. Pulse lightly – about eight quick pluses – just enough to cut in the butter, then add blueberries. Pulse four quick pulses or until lightly combined. Do not over mix
- In a small bowl, whisk sour cream and egg until smooth
- Pulse sour cream mixture into flour mixture lightly until large dough clumps form. Place on a lightly floured surface and use your hands to press together the dough until it comes together
- Pat into a 7- to 8-inch circle about 1-inch thick. Sprinkle with 1 tsp. of sugar. Use a sharp knife to cut into 8 triangles; place on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet about 2 inches apart
Bake until golden, about 16 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack prior to frosting.
For the icing
- In a large bowl, whisk powdered sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, lemon extract and milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until spreadable (mixture will thicken slightly as it sets)
- Place into a piping bag or squeezable ketchup bottle and pipe icing on to scones
Follow the recipe for the scones, adding 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon to the dry ingredients and substituting dried raisins for the blueberries. For the icing, replace lemon juice for 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon and replace lemon extract for vanilla extract
Follow the recipe for the scones, adding 1 teaspoon of finely grated orange rind (zest) to the sour cream mixture and substituting dried cranberries for the blueberries. For the icing, replace lemon juice for orange juice and replace lemon extract for orange extract
Follow the recipe for scones, adding 1/2 tsp. almond extract to the sour cream mixture and substituting dried cherries for the blueberries. For the icing, omit the lemon juice and replace the lemon extract for almond extract. Add slivered almonds to the top.