Biscuits out of the can were a staple in my childhood. Cinnamon rolls out of a can, yep that was a staple too. My Mom wasn't a baker, unless you count the occasional box cake she would make say twice a year. I don't really have a memory of eating scratch biscuits as a child, with the exception of our lake trips to Shell Knob. We grew up going to the lake and would stop in Casseville, MO at this restaurant called the Lighthouse for breakfast. I always had a hard time deciding what to order there because they had two of my very favorite things on a breakfast menu: pancakes and biscuits and gravy. Their pancakes were incredible, crispy and yet light and fluffy. The butter was always real and soft enough to spread without turning your pancake into bread crumbs. Oh, and the syrup was warm. Dad's breakfast usually came with a side of biscuits and gravy, which meant I could get both. It was always a good day when we stopped at the Lighthouse. The biscuits were light and flaky, super high. I was just in awe of these ginourmous things called a biscuit because the ones I ate out of a can were croutons compared to these babies.
I've made home made biscuits, but find that the frozen biscuits we get are just as good. I still try to make some every so often just so my kiddos have a memory of eating homemade things. Scones are basically jacked up biscuits if you get right down to it. The principles of scone baking are the same as biscuit making, at least the recipe I'm going to share with you today is. Cutting in cold butter to your dry ingredients, then adding the wet, quick kneading, rolling and wham-o you are done. I dont' really think there is anything in the world that goes better with coffee than a good scone. My wife loves scones and gets very happy when I whip up a batch of these, her favorite combination.
Owning a stand mixer will really make your life easier, but it's not impossible just harder. What I love about this recipe is that they are light, not too dry and not too heavy. I've had some scones where I felt like I just ate a brick because they were too dense and too dry to the point that I couldn't whistle for a week. Cutting in the butter is what takes the longest, but once you get that done the rest is quick. Before I forget. When you are cutting the butter, don't give up. There is a point in the process where it looks like you've made sand, that's when you need to remember me telling you not to give up. Patiently waiting a minute or two longer yields the "pea size" pebbles you want.
I read probably 10 different recipes for scones from trusted cookbooks and came up with my own version I'm sharing today. This recipe will be a snap to make if you own: a stand mixer, micro plane grater, bench scraper, pastry brush, and parchment paper. A bench scraper is one of my most favorite tools to use in the kitchen. They are super cheap and you can use them for a multitude of things. I think a micro plane zester is also a must have item. I use mine to zest citrus for many different recipes as well as for grating hard cheese. Buying Parmesan or Romano cheese by the hunk is so much cheaper than already grated. In looking for a photo to upload I ran a across this genius suggestion at Amazon. For less than $40 you can get a zester, scraper, AND silpat mat! What I wouldn't give for a siplat mat! That's the next investment for me.
4 cups All purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon salt (sea or kosher please)
1 tablespoon of grated orange zest (usually one baseball size orange)
1 1/2 cups cold butter, diced (that bench scraper works like a charm for this project)
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 heaping cup dried cranberries
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons water
Juice of one orange
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare sheet pans by lining with parchment or silpat mat (sigh). Zest your orange and set aside. Dice the butter and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment add the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and zest. Turn on low and mix just to incorporate. Add the diced butter and turn the mixer on low. Mix on low to medium speed until the butter and flour come together and resemble small pebbles (pea size) approximately five minutes. While the butter and flour are incorporating put the eggs, heavy cream, and vanilla in a medium size bowl and whisk together. Get your egg wash ready, too. All you need is a coffee cup or small bowl for this: whisk the egg and water together then set aside. When the flour is ready, turn the mixer to low and slowly add the cream mixture, mixing until it is just combined. Add the dried cranberries and mix until they are incorporated.
On a well floured surface, turn out the dough which will be very sticky. Dust the top of the dough with flour and lightly knead until the dough is not sticky. Cut dough in half, set one aside. Lightly press the dough into a flat circle about 3/4" thick. Think deck of cards thick. I used my hands for this, but you could use a rolling pin if you wanted to. Using a pizza cutter cut the circle in half then each half into fourths. If you want to make smaller scones, you would just cut the dough into fourths...you get the picture. Place the scones on the prepared sheet pan, brush with the egg wash and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and firm to the touch. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
Mix the orange juice, sugar and extract together in a small bowl and whisk until the sugar is incorporated and there are no lumps. Add more sugar to yield desired consistency, thicker or thinner based on your preference. Glaze the top of each scone when they are cooled.
- Make sure your baking powder is good and fresh. You should only keep it 3-6 months before replacing it.
- Cubing butter is easy with the bench scraper because you can cut the stick in 1/4's then dice it up.
- There is no rule about the shape of a scone needing to be this triangle shape. Feel free to use a biscuit cutter and make rounds which would yield you more scones. The triangel shape just screams scone and not funky biscuit.
- Use lemon zest instead of orange (go with 2-3 lemons) and add dried blueberries instead of dried cranberries.
- Stay with the orange zest, only had chopped bittersweet chocolate.
- Use almond extract instead of vanilla, add chopped apricots.
- Stick with the vanilla extract, no dried fruit, but scrape the pod of a vanilla bean or two.