Monday, March 8, 2010

Elizabeth's January Bread - Scones

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.

When the dough first starts to come together, you wonder if it's going to be too dry.

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.

These are so tasty that when you eat them, your taste buds will explode, followed by your brain.


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

1 egg

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.

Glaze: (optional)

1 egg

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.)


otto said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jenn and Josh said...

That was an awesome and funny post about the whole argument with the scones between you and Jeff :) those look so yummy, I might try to attempt to make this, but lets be honest, everytime I try to make any type of bread it never turns out, I can bake other goodies but just not bread, its not fair, because I LOVE bread!! I will need to come over and watch you sometime make it

Jeff said...

I wanted to leave a friendly reminder that we were both right!

laura said...

Thanks for posting your blog to facebook! I would have never found it otherwise. I love baking so this was really fun to read and look through. Your story was hilarious! I've always been annoyed with the way everyone in Mesa and Utah calls fry bread scones so I'm totally in agreement with you. Sorry to your husband!

Beth, Cody, Morgan, Pepper said...

I was completely confused when I lived in Payson, UT and people kept calling these fry bread-type muffins, scones. I had many arguments with people how these pretend scones did not resemble in the least REAL scones. I did however enjoy every last one I ate so I guess there really shouldn't be too much to argue about. I'm excited to try the recipe and I'm glad I finally found your blog. I love all things baking so this is pretty much the perfect blog for me:)

Julie said...

I too grew up with "baked scones" but unlike you, I have always looked down on fried scones a bit. Probably if I ate one I would change my mind hastily. Anyway, I love scones and I like to make them so maybe I will have to try this recipe.

Elizabeth said...

Well, as kind as I was trying to be to my dear husband, I will admit that #1 I really do wish fried scones had been named something else besides "scones" and #2 I found it very unsettling while I was living in Utah that loads of people had never heard of the baked variety. ...maybe everyone's just not as into baked goods as I am...

DeskSet said...

I feel like I need to represent Utah a little bit here. I grew up eating scones (fry bread) with a great deal of toppings other than your traditional bread and jam. It was a complete and lovely surprise when I went to England and tried their scones (baked scones, or as I call them, English scones) and clotted cream. I love them both!

Also, I ate fried scones (elephant ears) at the Monroe County Fair, so maybe it's not a completely Utah thing after all.

But Ann and I had much the same dilemma you and Jeff did when we were roommates. One night we decided to end it then and there. We had an arm wrestling match. Neither of us won, and we just went to go see Coraline in 3-D instead. Okay, it didn't really happen *completely* like that. But I like to think it could have.

Either way, pass the scones. My mouth is watering! Hooray for Year of Bread!!!!

ferskner said...

Oh wow, I can't believe how much discussion this has gotten! Those scones look wicked awesome, and it reminds me of how many times we've had to settle for just scones when we've been jipped out of the rest of our afternoon tea. Good thing you like them so much.

Bahahahaha to Marcue's post! The sad this is that even though it didn't happen completely like that, she wasn't exaggerating on the arm wrestling. Good times!

Julie said...

You should post those arm wrestling pictures on this blog! That would make it complete.