I wish you were here with me in the kitchen right now. I just took a pan of strawberry-orange scones out of the oven and it smells like a bakery. Considering it's nasty and rainy outside (with the possibility of tornadoes tonight, oh great), my kitchen is the perfect place to spend the afternoon. The aroma of those scones is making me pretty hungry. Henry, too.
Problem is, we can't eat them! Sorry, Henry. After that gluttonous trip to St. Martin, it's mostly fiber and vegetables around here these days. No wine, either. Crap.
But you can make (and eat) these. Besides, it's a great way to use up some of that buttermilk you have on hand now that you've made your very own lovely butter (which will be fantastic on the scones, by the way).
The basic recipe is one we used at Star Provisions which I have tweaked with the addition of buttermilk and a little extra flour. It makes a lot of scones (I got 22 out of the recipe) which is wonderful news because you can freeze them unbaked and then just pop one or two in the oven whenever you need them. That's right, they can go straight from freezer to oven. Of course in my house, that's downright dangerous.
If you didn't get around to making butter like I told you to, of course you can use store-bought buttermilk. I'll tell you though, the homemade stuff lends an extra-buttery taste to the dough!
5 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound cold butter, diced
2 eggs (I used extra-large)
1 cup buttermilk (preferably homemade)
2 cups diced strawberries
Zest from 2 oranges
1 teaspoon orange extract
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in bowl of electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Combine briefly on low speed. Add butter and pulse on and off on very low speed until just combined. When mixture is stable and no longer flying out of the bowl, mix on low speed until just crumbly and butter is the size of peas, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and blend. With mixer on low speed, slowly pour in buttermilk and mix until a soft dough forms. Remove bowl from mixer stand.
Combine diced strawberries, orange zest and orange extract in a small bowl. Toss with 2 tablespoons of flour. Using a spatula, gently fold into dough.
Turn dough out on a well-floured surface. It will be sticky. If too sticky to work with, add additional flour and knead briefly until dough comes together.
Roll out into a 3/4-inch thick rectangle. Flour top of dough and knife. Cut dough into 3 1/2 by 3 1/2-inch squares then cut each square diagonally into triangles. Remove to a sheet pan and continue with remaining dough, re-rolling one time.
Place baking sheet in freezer. When scones are frozen, wrap well and store until needed. If baking immediately, it is best to chill them first, at least one hour. Preheat oven to 350-degrees then bake on a sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat for 40 minutes or until golden. Cool on a rack.
Yield: 22 triangular scones (of course, you can cut them into any shape/size you like)
These are perfectly wonderful as is, but I like to take them over the top by either brushing them with egg wash (beat an egg with some water, milk or half-and-half) and sprinkling generously with sugar (preferably turbinado) before baking or glazing them when they come out of the oven.
ORANGE GLAZE (this makes enough for the entire batch of 22 - make less if you are baking off fewer scones)
3 cups confectioner's sugar
Juice of two large oranges
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk well until no lumps remain. Glaze should be fairly thin and pourable.
Brush over slightly cooled scones. Yum!
Many recipes will tell you to bake scones at 425-degrees or higher, the idea being to create a beautiful outside crust. I agree with the concept but that has never worked for me in a home kitchen because the outside gets done, but the inside does not. I find that a longer baking at 350 does the trick in my oven. You may need to experiment with yours.
I used strawberries because that's what I happened to have on hand. But you can take the basic recipe and add anything you can think of - like maybe blueberries and lemon zest, dried cranberries and crystallized ginger, dried apricots and toasted almonds - well, you get the idea. Heck, why not chocolate chips and orange zest? A little chocolate for breakfast never hurt anyone. Have at it!