Just a quick note on scones, my friends…
First off, scones are delightful. They are a staple in brunch menu items, don’t require outrageous prep work, and taste great fresh out of the oven or cooled (but let’s be real… warm scones are the beez kneez)! If you want to know the secret to scones, or any baking trick for that matter, chances are it involves the use of butter; in the case of scones, the secret is COLD butter.
Perhaps my FAVORITE thing about scones isn’t that they go well with homemade lemon curd or blackberry jam, no, it is that the ingredients call for COLD butter. I know, I know… that may not sound all that spectacular, but when you bake as often as I do you learn to pay attention to prep work and ingredients that require special attention. Throughout my baking career, I’ve noticed most recipes require softened butter; I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to make a simple batch of cookies, only to be faced with the inevitable “butter-thawing dilemma”… do I wait and let the butter thaw naturally? That could take HOURS… a cookie craving waits for no man!! OR, do I use the microwave and risk partial melting of said butter… possibly compromising the structural integrity of the ENTIRE batch of cookies! You think you had it bad? Baker dilemmas are the WORST, amIright?!
Cut that Butter
I digress… where was I? Oh, yes… cold butter! My point is that scones get their unique texture by cutting this COLD butter into the dry ingredients.
There are different techniques in cutting butter, some prefer a pastry cutter or fork; when it comes to making scones, I prefer to use my hands. The goal is to work the ingredients between your fingers till they resemble a corn meal-like texture. If you’re a little lost on the action step of cutting butter using your fingers, pretend like you are rubbing sand between your fingers, this is also the universal sign for money. See the difference in the pictures below… some large clumps are fine (this will add to the flakiness of the scones).
The Home Stretch
Once you’ve cut the butter (not to be confused with cutting the cheese), you’re pretty much done with all the difficult steps; all that’s left is to add your wet ingredients, then fold in the fruit.
Roll out your scones on a lightly floured surface to a generous ½ inch thickness and use a pizza slicer to cut your scones to whatever size/shape you’d like. (Note that smaller scones will inevitably cook faster.)
Baking and Frosting
Don’t over bake your scones! Remember that each oven is different, so what works well in my oven does not necessarily mean it will work wonders in yours. The key here is to bake these till they have a golden brown coloring. (I always check for this color on the bottom of the scones; I think it is most accurate.) Once your scones are out of the oven, let them sit on the cookie sheet for a minute or so, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Drizzle frosting once the scones are slightly cooled. (If the scones are too hot, the frosting will melt too much… you don’t want that!) Now, for the most challenging step – using self restraint as you try to eat only one while the aroma of these delicious peach scones fills your household.
Happy Brunching… and Happy Baking!