Friday, January 8, 2010

english scones - screw america, england is where it's at

english scones - 24I just want to go on record and say that I have grown up to detest scones. All the scones (and yes, I have had many in my life for some reason) I've tasted were rock hard and tasteless. But during my recent trip to Canada (Victoria, British Columbia) with my mother, I had a life-altering experience. Apparently all the scones I've had were American scones opposed to English scones, and being that we were in British Columbia, there were many english scones at the local bakeries. My mom, who has grown up eating and loving english scones, first told me of this difference, and suggested I reconsider my stance on scones. Oh-em-gee, these scones were so delicious and moist and everything opposite of what I was used to. Needless to say, the first thing I did when I got back home was search for this mysterious scone recipe.

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I deemed this the perfect time to try out the food processor again. Apparently, when I last tried it to make my pasta dough, I didn't click it in properly which is why it didn't work. After I saw how easy it was for me to cut butter into flour (opposed to the half hour it took me to physically cut butter for the pie crust), I officially decided that I am going to invest in a food processor when I go back to my own house.

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The recipe called for heavy cream, but I substitued it with milk because I thought it would be fine anyway.

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All I had to do was press pulse a few times and the dough came together perfectly. I cannot even believe how easy it is to make this type of dough.

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I floured my mom's fancy marble pastry board (which she has never used in her life) and dumped out my crumbly dough. An interesting thing about these english scones is that they could be either sweet or savory, and more often then not they are actually savory. The types of scones that we tried in Canada were in a multitude of varieties, such as the typical dried fruit ones (sweet), but my favorites were definitely the cheese and herb ones (savory).

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So I split the dough into two balls so that way I could make two distinct flavors. The recipe called for currants, but I chose raisins because thats all that I could find.

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For my savory scones, I decided cheese flavored (of course). I wasn't in the mood for grating cheddar cheese (which is the typical cheese used for scones), so I grabbed a handful of already-grated Parmesan and hoped for the best. There was no measuring in this part (which I absolutely hate) but I figured that I needed to be more leniant and less Nazi-like while baking.

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I plopped my cute little scones on a baking dish and prepared them for the oven.

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I actually halved the recipe, because I didn't know if they would come out correctly. And being that I halved the recipe, I used half of an egg (because I am so precise), which actually came in handy for egg-washing the scones.

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Hot from the oven, I ripped a scone in half to take my first bite. I'm not even lying, but these scones were damn good.

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The food processor really did help me with the cutting of the butter, which can be seen in the flaky strands peaking out from the baked scone.

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If I had to describe these english scones, I'd say they were almost like biscuits. They're light and flaky like biscuits, but they're more moist and delicate. The outside still retains a familiar firm texture, but is never rock-solid like American scones. Overall, it just tastes awesome. All we needed was some Devonshire cream or Lemon curd! (lol, don't I sound British?)

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The Parmesan cheese scones unfortunatley weren't cheesey enough (go figure). First of all, the color of the cheese is the same as the dough so no one could barely even notice it was flavored. And second of all, the cheese flavor was slightly muted, and could only be noticed if I told someone it had cheese in it beforehand. Next time I'd definitely load on the cheese, and probably use cheddar instead.

Adapted from Joy of Baking.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup whipping cream or milk (I used milk)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and place the rack in the middle of the oven. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. (I used the food processor for this part) In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. In a small measuring cup combine the whipping cream, beaten egg and vanilla. Add this mixture to the flour mixture. Stir just until combined. Do not over mix.
3. Knead dough gently on a lightly floured surface. Roll or pat the dough into a circle that is about 7 inches round. Then, using a 2 1/2 inch round cookie cutter, cut the dough into rounds (I separated the dough in half, adding raisins to one and Parmesan cheese to the other, and divided each half into separate balls of dough). Place the rounds on the prepared cookie sheet, spacing a few inches apart. Brush the tops of the scones with a little cream. This helps to brown the tops of the scones during baking.
4. Bake for about 15 - 18 minutes or until nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of a scone comes out clean. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Makes about 10 - 2.5 inch round scones.

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