I was thrilled to see I'd received a request...I like a challenge! But then my heart started to race as I remembered my one and only attempt at making a classic English pastry, the scone. They were supposed to be fresh strawberry scones. At least, that's what the recipe was titled. Instead, they were more like shapeless mounds of sticky, bland, pink biscuits. Epic fail! I was determined to give it another go and overcome my fear. Strawberries are out of season though and I didn't freeze any. (Upon researching countless recipes, tip and tricks, I read using frozen fruit works best.) I know oranges aren't really in season now either, but the navel oranges I bought over the weekend were so bright and juicy, I wanted to try it out.
It really wasn't that difficult, to be honest. When comparing both attempts at making scones, I would say my downfall the first time was not thoroughly prepping and chilling my ingredients and using the fresh berries instead of frozen This time around, I measured and mixed what I could and made sure to chill them again for 15 minutes before actually combining them. Tips and tricks? 1.) COLD, COLD, COLD! Keep all ingredients nearly ice-cold until just before use. Even the work bowl, if you can. 2.) Don't over-work the dough. It will activate all those glutens and become tough. When shaping into a square-ish mound, resist the urge to knead the dough. 3.) Use a sharp knife or bench scraper to cut the dough. Fluted cutters or glass cutters will crimp the edges, preventing a good rise. Also, if using the rim of a wine glass or similar just press down, don't twist. That will also create a "smushed" or pinched side to the scone. 4.) When brushing the tops of dough with cream or egg wash, don't let it drip down the sides. This also prevents rise. 5.) Fill a pie plate or other oven safe dish with about a cup of water and place it in the bottom third of the oven 15 minutes before you put your scones in. Scones will be placed in the upper third of the oven and the steam from the water will (you guessed it)...help them to rise. That's scone making, in a nutshell!
- 8 T cold unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup heavy cream plus more for brushing
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 teaspoon orange extract
- 6 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons cake flour
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons orange zest
- 1 Tablespoon orange zest
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 cup confectioner's sugar
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Position the oven racks in the top third and bottom third. Put the pie plate filled with one cup of water on the bottom third. Cube the butter into 16 pieces per stick and place into the refrigerator until ready to use. In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together the cream, egg, vanilla, orange extract and granulated sugar. Place it into the refrigerator as well. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the cake flour, baking powder, salt and orange zest. Scatter the chilled butter cubes over the flour mix and pulse for about 10 (one second) pulses. Butter pieces should be covered in flour and approximately the size of large peas. Still pulsing, quickly pour the cream mixture in a steady stream through the top of the processor. Only pulse until dough combines! It may seem wet but you can always add a little flour by hand if needed. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface or large piece of wax paper. Shape it into a 9 inch square, trying not to touch the dough too much; you don't want the butter to start melting. First cut the square into four equal squares. Then cut each of those squares into quarters on the diagonal (like your mom used to cut your PB&J sandwiches!) creating 16 mini triangles. Place them on a silicone baking mat or lightly greased cookie sheet. I was lucky enough to receive a mini scone baking pan from some co-workers, so decided to try it out. Brush just the tops of each scone with some cream, careful not to let it drip down the sides. You can sprinkle turbinado or granulated sugar on top but I wanted to use the glaze, so I opted not to sugar them. Bake them for 15-16 minutes. You want the tops to be dry, a little firmness to the touch and slightly golden in color. Let the scones rest in the pan for about 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack with waxed paper underneath. Whisk together the glaze ingredients just before using. Add more confectioner's sugar as needed until the desired consistency is achieved. Drizzle over warm scones. They can be served "as is" or with the traditional clotted cream and jams.
The recipe created here is based upon the basic dough formula (flour: butter: liquid ratio) from The Luna Café.