Photo: Clara Moore
I often write recipes to myself as just a list of ingredients. (Ask any of my former employees and they will surely roll their eyes about it!)
However, in baking, I like to make sure I have measurements for the ingredients as I am not a good enough baker (yet) to guess on the amounts of leaveners, cooking time, etc.
A few words of wisdom from my years of baking in professional kitchens as well as in my own:
- Make sure your baking powder and baking soda are no more than one year old. Everything in your kitchen runs out of life eventually — even dried beans can become inedible after a few years. If you are in doubt, just get new ones. It’s not that much of an investment to ensure successful baking!
- Use unsalted butter. Always. Salt is a preservative, meaning salted butter is more likely to be a lot older. Plus, you want to be able to control the salt content in your cooking.
- Don’t get overwrought about “room temperature butter.” Just let it sit out for 10 minutes, that’s it. It just has to be slightly pliable.
- Don’t overwork your dough. Unless you are making bread or pasta, you don’t need to knead a dough. Stir it until it is wet and all the ingredients seem evenly distributed.
- Last but certainly not least, don’t get stressed out! Food is a reflection of your mood. If you are stressed about making something, it will most likely turn out tough or undercooked because you nervously opened the oven too much, skipped a step, whatever. Relax and enjoy the feel/smell/taste of it all!
Making scones is basically just like making biscuits – mix dry ingredients, cut in butter, and add liquid and other additions (i.e. nuts, berries, or cheese).
From here, you can get creative with your add-ins — Cheddar and Cashew; Sunflower Seed, Dried Cherry and Mexican Chocolate; Flax Seed, Pecan and Dried Cranberry.
Yield: 12 small scones
- 3 cups flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup buttermilk, milk, cream or yogurt
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Slice butter into small cubes and toss into the flour mix.
- Cut the butter into the flour mix either with a pastry cutter or by using your hands. If using your hands, squeeze the butter cubes between your thumb and forefinger and drop it back into the flour mixture. Repeat until the mixture is the texture of small gravel.
- Add liquid and any other add-ins (i.e. nuts, dried fruit, cheese) and stir until combined.
- Separate the dough into thirds, and turn each third on a floured surface until it forms a cohesive ball, about a 4-inch puck. Chill for about 30 minutes. (You can keep the dough like this in the freezer for up to three months. Just pull it out and let it thaw on the counter for an hour or two, cut into fourths and bake as usual.)
- Remove from refrigerator and cut dough into fourths. Bake on a baking sheet for 15-25 minutes, until slightly browned.