Friday, March 12, 2010

Ann's February Bread: Uh....also Scones

Well after all the controversy that Listle's last post created, I feel like my month's post will be a bit of a let down. Yes, I too made scones. However, I did not intend to make scones, so does that make it better? I don't know. I had planned on making brioche this month, but somehow neglected to note in the recipe that the dough needed a good night's rest before baking, thus ruining my plans. I needed something quick, but something that wouldn't necessarily feel like a cop out. I also needed to have all the ingredients since I discovered my mistake on a Sunday afternoon and needed to have a delicious bread product ready for book club on Sunday night. So I decided I had to make three different kinds of scones as penance for my lack of recipe reading. Also, I had to make some cupcakes and chicken with brussels sprouts and rice, but I'm not blogging on those things. Suffice it to say, there was a cooking frenzy.

Luckily, the scones came together so quickly and easily that all that cooking wasn't nearly as traumatic as I had expected (the dishes, on the other hand...). I forgot that all baking isn't as time consuming and so full of multiple parts. You just throw some basic ingredients into the food processor and you're good to go! My friend Cheriiiil and I researched and made them together - we had so much fun! We decided that each type of scone had to be formed in a different way, to make the results research seem more complete.

First, we made cream scones with dried cranberries. We ended up combining a couple of different recipes; we had a recipe we wanted to try, but then adapted it with another recipe to create drop scones. They turned out delicate and rich, with a good contrast from the tart cranberries (no currants in my apartment). They spread out more than other drop scones I've had, but they would have been perfect for afternoon tea (I really wish it hadn't been Sunday so I could have gotten some clotted cream to serve with them!). Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of them, with all of the cooking and book club action, but they were excellent.

Then I made honey-nut scones, courtesy of Dorie Greenspan. They were made with whole wheat flour, walnuts, and sweetened with honey. I made them in the way I've seen scones traditionally made, by cutting circles of dough into sixths and sprinkling with sugar (I used some turbinado sugar). They looked all rustic and homemade, and the sugar on top gave it an extra crunchiness. Perfect breakfast scone.

Finally, I made black olive scones (I wanted something savory to round out my scone experience). I used some salty black Turkish olives and lots of cream in the batter, and then rolled out the dough and cut them into circles and brushed them with olive oil and sprinkled them with Maldon sea salt. The combination of the salt and cream made them taste extra decadent, and the texture was perfect - flaky but crumbly, buttery, and everything a scone should be.

I can't decide which kind was my favorite, since they were all so different, but it was great to explore the variations on scones and really get to know them. Since I felt like last year I didn't get to know the properties of cakes as well as I should have, I want to make sure I really get into that this year, and my Scones, Three Ways helped me get to know scones very well.

Cream Scones/Mrs. Humphries' Scones
adapted from Afternoon Delights by James McNair and Andrew Moore, and The King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook by Brinna B. Sands

3 cups flour
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries, coarsely chopped

1. Position an oven rack so that the scones will bake in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Like a baking sheet with kitchen parchment and set aside.

2. In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt and pulse to blend well. Add the cold butter and pulse in the food processor until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Transfer a mixture to a bowl. Add the cream and the cranberries. Stir just until the mixture sticks together.

3. Drop big spoonfuls of the batter onto the parchment covered baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Transfer scones from baking sheet to a bowl lined with a kitchen towel to keep them warm.

Honey-Nut Scones
adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

1 large egg
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup cold whole milk
1 1/2 flour
1/2 whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Sugar for sprinkling (I used turbinado)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Like a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Stir the egg, honey, and milk together.

Pulse the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add the pieces of butter and pulse into dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly. You'll have pea-sized pieces, pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and pieces the size of everything in between - and that's just right.

Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and pulse just until the dough, which will be wet and sticky, comes together. Don't overdo it. Pulse in the chopped walnuts.

Turn dough into a bowl and gently knead the dough by hand, or turn it with a rubber spatula 8 to 10 times. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it in half. Working with one piece at a time, pat the dough into a rough circle that's about 5 inches in diameter, cut it into 6 wedges and place on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake the scones for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are deeply golden and firmish to the touch. Transfer them from the baking sheet into a bowl lined with a kitchen towel to keep them warm.

Black Olive Scones
from Tea Time Magazine, September/October 2009

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, diced
1/4 cup chopped black olives (I used Turkish olives, but kalamata or Nicoise would also be good)
2/3 cup whipping cream
Olive oil
Flaked sea salt (I used Maldon)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter pieces and pulse until the flour mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the olives. Pulse in the cream until the mixture is just moistened (that was a terrible paragraph for both Mrs. H-B and me).

3. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Using a 2-inch round cutter, cut as many scones as possible, rerolling scraps as necessary (but not more than twice).

4. Place scones on the prepared baking sheets. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the tops of scones with olive oil; sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake for 16 minutes, or until scones are golden brown.


Elizabeth said...

Awesome! Those look great. In spite of the fact that I know mine were better, I'm still really excited for you and proud of you too. That's cool that you made three kinds!

Julie said...

OLIVE scones?? That is so unexpected that I might just have to try them sometime.

DeskSet said...

My favorite part of this post is that you didn't have what you needed to make what you wanted to, but you still had the ingredients to make not one, not two, but THREE different flavors of scones.

Also, what are you guys reading for book club these days? I'm always looking for suggestions.