Wednesday, January 25, 2012

British for a Day: Scones, Scones & More Scones!

Sunday brunch is, at its heart, a time to feel fancy. And let's be honest; nothing feels fancier than pretending to be British (well maybe wearing a monocle, but the two don't have to be mutually exclusive). For this weekend's adventure in brunching, I decided to go with the coffee shop darling scone. As always, I can't allow myself to make just one kind of anything, so I made blueberry, strawberries and cream and chocolate chip scones. Now let's hop across the pond for a bloody good pastry to stuff in your gob (If you were to bet on the number of overused English sayings that will appear in this post, you should take the over. May God have mercy on my soul.).

Blueberry Scones
Modified from Food Network
Servings: 8-12 scones
Time: 35 minutes
I find throwing pennies in this well leads to an odd copper taste.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
5 tbsp unsalted butter, cold & pea-sized
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing 
Powdered sugar
Vanilla Extract

The slightly sticky (yet manageable) dough

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together in a large bowl.
  3. Cut in the butter. You can use two forks or a pastry blender to cut it in, or you can go old school and mash the pieces with your fingers. The end result should produce coarse crumbs.
  4. Fold the blueberries into the batter gently with a rubber spatula. If you're too rough, your scones will have nice blueish purple stains throughout.
  5. Make a well in the center of the dough and pour in the heavy cream. Fold it together until everything is incorporated and a sticky dough forms (don't overwork it).
  6. Press the dough out on a lightly floured surface until it's about 1/2 inch to 1 inch thick and solidly together (again be careful not to mash the blueberries). Since this is a sticky dough, you should coat your hands in flour first to make it more manageable. 
  7. Cut your scones into the desired shape. For standard scones, first cut out rectangles then slice them diagonally in half. 
  8. Place the scones on an ungreased cookie sheet and brush the tops with a small amount of heavy cream. 
  9. Bake for 12-16 minutes or until they turn a golden brown.
  10. Prep the glaze while you let the scones cool (this part is going to be very unscientific). Put a healthy amount of powdered sugar in a bowl and add a drizzle of vanilla. Add a small amount of milk and stir like crazy until all the sugar dissolves then add even more sugar until the glaze becomes thick.  
  11. Get disgusted at how much sugar you got into that minuscule amount of glaze and pledge to work out later after brushing your teeth for an hour.
  12. Pour the glaze onto the cooled scones and let harden for at least 10 minutes then enjoy.
You could stop here, but you'd have to be barking because they're far better when covered in a super dense glaze.
The blueberry scone is probably the variety that most people are familiar with, so I knew the pressure was on to get this one right. At first, I feared they weren't quite sweet enough, but after drizzling on that wonderful instant cavity glaze, they hit the perfect balance. They're crumbly (thanks to all that butter) like you would expect from a scone, but they are also nicely moist for an instant classic breakfast. The real treat of the scone, though, is biting into those fresh blueberries that just burst with flavor.

Strawberries and Cream Scones

The pressed out dough (notice the little bit of extra flour I added to help out)
Do everything exactly the same as for the blueberry scones except this time add blueberry sized pieces of strawberry (again be careful not to go too hard on it or you'll have a less than appetizing red dough). Also, to incorporate the cream taste into the glaze add a small amount of almond extract.

The world's most perfect scone. 
This is everything I wanted in a scone. They tasted exactly like I imagined they would when I envisioned strawberries and cream with almond extract adding the perfect notes and additional sweetness to bring this pastry home. These were so good that I crashed into Kevin's room and yelled at him to try one while he was brushing his teeth (shockingly he declined and looked at me funny but stopped short of telling me to sod off). 

English Royalty Chocolate Chip Scones
Servings: 8-10 scones
Time: 35 minutes

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup white sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cut pea-sized
6 oz semisweet chocolate chips
4-6 tbsp orange juice

'Ello Govna (It took every bit of willpower I have for this not to be the first words in the post)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl.
  3. Cut in the butter like mentioned in the blueberry recipe until you have coarse crumbs.
  4. Stir in the chocolate chips. 
  5. Mix in the orange juice until a dough forms. The more orange juice you put, the more workable the dough will be (and the greater the hint of orange in the background will be).
  6. Pat or roll the dough down on a lightly floured surface until it is 1/2 inch to 1 inch thick. (This dough won't be nearly as sticky as the fruit scone one).
  7. Cut into the desired shapes and place on a lightly greased baking pan.
  8. Bake for 12-16 minutes or until they start to become golden brown.
  9. Spend the rest of your day talking in a cockney accent since no one can get annoyed with you because you made them awesome scones.
Just by reading the name of these English Royalty scones, you should know exactly why I chose this recipe (I may have debated forcing Kevin and Alexis to refer to me as "your majesty" while sampling these.). There's actually a huge difference between these and the other scones as these are far more traditional with an extra crumbly texture. The chocolate chips (and extra sugar) go a long way to make these an extremely sweet scone (notice how they don't get glaze) that could work as a dessert and not just for breakfast. Oddly enough, the orange juice ends up shining by adding an intriguing backend that pairs surprisingly well with the chocolate.

I'm seriously getting some crazy mileage out of these display plates.
This is the most fun I've had pretending to be British since Bryan's Batgirl #22. Feel free to wear the giant bearskin hat while baking to make things more authentic (and check out Bryan's new donut-centric blog. It's well worth your time since he does this writing stuff for a living.)
Combined, the three delightful scones made for one of my favorite brunches yet (and provided my coworkers with the tastiest Monday staff meeting ever). The wonderful medley of fresh fruit and chocolate generated something for everyone to love (and if you're not a fan of sweet just toss out the glaze). Seriously, it seemed like everyone I talked to had a different favorite (meaning everyone is crazy since strawberries and cream is clearly superior), so I highly recommend you try them all. 

Perhaps I need to stop being such a useless knob and visit England (surely my good friend Brandon has a couch to crash on), so I know what it's actually like instead of just spouting out random sayings (But I just don't think my little heart could handle finding out it doesn't live up to the stereotypes. I'd probably say "bollocks" and cry over some biscuits and tea when I didn't see the giant foot from Monty Python crush anything.).

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