Scones are so yummy, and yet so controversial in my family!!
My husband loves scones. But in his household growing up (his parents are from Utah, and he grew up in Arizona), scones were a fried yeast bread, dressed with honey or cinnamon sugar (similar to Indian Fry Bread or Sopapillas). So when someone says "scones," that's what he's picturing.
In my household growing up (my parents are also from Utah, and I also grew up in Arizona), scones were the same baked quick bread that some people refer to as "English scones" or "Scottish scones." Jeff and I used to argue and argue about the true meaning of the word "scone." (We argued a lot in those days about pretty much everything, so scones just slid easily into the argument mix.) There was no information available about it on the Internet back then (1997...and yes, we looked!), so we finally agreed to just call them "fried scones" and "baked scones" respectively. And we also agreed to stop arguing about it.
Fast forward 13 years, and I had forgotten all about our "fried" and "baked" agreement. We don't eat scones very often, and since I've seen a lot of baked scones during the years, I pretty much forgot about fried scones. I swear that when I decided to make scones for my first month of Year of Bread, and I just called them "Scones" without the "baked" qualifier, I wasn't trying to pick a fight! Jeff good-naturedly reminded me of my past agreement... and I grumbled.
The recipe for these scones was featured in a culinary mystery that I read (English Trifle, by Josi S. Kilpack -- a Utah author). To complicate matters, she wrote something in the book about English scones being different than American scones, which, she wrote, "are deep fried." Huh? Where outside of Utah and my husband's family home have I ever seen a deep fried scone? Anyway, I decided to research it again this time around, and it turns out that fried scones ARE INDEED unique to Utah. Besides wanting to do the "I was right, I was right" dance, the truth is that I'm happy for Utah! Really. I do not look down on Utah scones at all (oh whoops, I'm not allowed to call them that. That was part of our agreement. They're not Utah scones, they're fried scones). Anyway, I love regional food, and I hate that regional food is slowly disappearing in America, as people eat more and more Olive Garden, Burger King, and Red Lobster. Actually, regional food is disappearing all over the world, but that's a discussion for another time. (Reminder: eat local.)
So all hail the Utah fried scone!! It should be noted that I can't find any particularly good scholarship on the matter, and any links that refer to such scholarship are broken and lead nowhere. However, it does seem that food historians/anthropologists agree that English/Scottish Mormon settlers in Utah hybridized Indian fry bread and British scones. Why the settlers decided to call them "scones" when they are so different in ingredients and consistency, I'll never know. I suspect they originally shaped them the same way they did with the baked type in their home countries.
All that aside, I chose to make BAKED scones for January. They were amazing. A-MAZ-ING. Amazing like a full moon. Amazing like opposable thumbs. Amazing like OK Go's This Too Shall Pass video. Amazing.
They were tender and flaky and buttery and slightly sweet. All around fabulous! Much more tender and flavorful than an American biscuit. This is probably due to the use of butter and sour cream rather than shortening. So tasty.
The only thing I didn't love was the really long shape of the scones. Once they were rolled out like the recipe stated, the triangles were so long that the points flopped over while they baked. In the future, I will divide the dough in half and then roll out two circles instead of one.
But then Kapow! It forms a fabulous little ball of Yummy.
Roll it out into a circle, and cut it into triangles. (Again I'll do two circles next time, rather than one big circle.)
Brush them with the optional glaze (which I didn't think was so fabulous that it merited buying whipping cream. Maybe you can make it with milk, or you could just go without the glaze.)
Serve them with clotted cream, jam, and/or butter.
Sadie's Scrumptulicious Scones
1 cup sour cream (light works just as well)
1 tsp. baking soda
4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 cup butter, cold
Combine sour cream and baking soda in 2 cup bowl or measuring cup (mixture expands, so you'll want to have extra space). Set aside. Whisk together dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Cut butter into dry ingredients using a pastry blender until mixture resembles course corn meal. Add sour cream and egg, mix until a soft dough forms—use use your hands if necessary. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead a few times, then pat or roll until 1 inch thick. Cut into triangles, or if you prefer, cut into circles with a biscuit cutter. (Elizabeth's note: actually, divide the dough into two parts, and roll each part into a circle. Cut into triangles like a pizza. This gives you smaller, more reasonable scones.) Place scones two inches apart on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake 350 for 20-25 minutes or until bottom edges are golden brown.
Makes 8-14 depending on size of scones.
1 Tablespoon whipping cream
Mix egg and cream together. Brush on top of unbaked scones and bake as directed. Sprinkle glazed and baked scones with powdered sugar. Set oven to broil, but do not move oven rack to the highest level—leave it in the center position. Put pan in oven, keeping door open about an inch and watch closely. Sugar takes 30 seconds to 1 1/2 minutes to turn a golden brown. Remove from oven, serve while still warm.
*To Freeze: Bake scones as directed. When cool, put in Ziploc bag, removing as much air as possible to ensure freshness upon defrosting. To defrost, remove from freezer and let thaw at room temperature for 2 hours. Can reheat in microwave. (Elizabeth's note: I froze some of mine and ate them the next day, taking them straight from the freezer to the microwave. They were perfect.)