I’ve labored in many alternative bakeries throughout New York Metropolis over the previous eight years, and most of them have the identical assortment of fresh-baked morning pastries — staples resembling biscuits, muffins, banana bread, and scones. Talking from expertise, muffins are typically the most well-liked choice. Biscuits additionally don’t keep within the case lengthy, as they’re a perfect various in order for you a fast chunk for breakfast however perhaps aren’t a fan of sweets very first thing within the morning. Solely the scones usually linger previous the morning rush, and I’ve all the time discovered that to be relatively unfair.
In most American bakeries, scones are a misunderstood and underappreciated member of the breakfast pastry case. The reason being easy: Most locations are making them mistaken, giving them a popularity as rock-hard, stale, disappointing pastries that you just solely get when there aren’t any muffins left. I’ve seen scones made so poorly they might in all probability break a window. For the document, I’m solely speaking about American-style scones. One might write a complete article on the variations between British and American scones, however I’m sticking to what I do know greatest.
In any case, it’s not purported to be this manner! Don’t blame the scone, blame the recipe. Scones are purported to have a barely agency exterior with a wealthy, buttery-soft inside that crumbles while you chunk into it. A tender, just-right quantity of crumble, not the sort the place you instantly lose half of the pastry. A superb scone has a fragile texture, one that’s the reverse of rocklike. And it may be made all of the extra pleasant by add-ins resembling fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, and spices. Consider a scone as a buttery clean slate you may make your individual.
So how do you make really good scones? First, by avoiding two frequent errors: Don’t make the dough too dry, and don’t overbake them.
When it’s combined, scone dough is meant to be fairly moist; it ought to have an nearly cookie dough-like texture. The important thing to that is utilizing sufficient butter — an absurd quantity. That’s what provides scones a superbly tender texture with the nice form of crumble — suppose fats, buttery crumbs. Dough that’s too dry, alternatively, goes to provide the dangerous form of crumbs, dry and like sawdust. Utilizing a whole lot of butter signifies that your dough wants a while to set within the fridge or freezer; doing this enables the butter to agency up in order that after they’re baked, the blast of the oven’s warmth melts the butter and releases steam, which helps the scones to rise and creates that pretty texture. Butter that isn’t sufficiently chilly, alternatively, will make your scones unfold throughout baking. For that cause, I extremely suggest prepping your scone dough the day earlier than and chilling it in a single day within the freezer.
As for overbaking, leaving scones within the oven method too lengthy is what provides them the consistency of a rock and makes them (along with not sufficient butter) too crumbly. You need your scones to nonetheless be a bit delicate on the finish of their baking time, since they’ll agency as much as the precise consistency as they cool.
One of the simplest ways to learn to make nice scones, in fact, is to truly make them, so I’ve developed a summery strawberry scone recipe within the hopes of changing all of you into true believers.
Makes 8 scones
Notice: This recipe can simply be made vegan by substituting butter with vegan butter, resembling Earth Steadiness, and entire milk with non-dairy milk. I’ve finished this many instances and it really works rather well.
2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour
½ cup (99 grams) sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup (170 grams) chilly, salted butter
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons entire milk
½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces coarsely chopped contemporary strawberries (plus 1 or 2 additional strawberries, sliced, for adorning)
Step 1: In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt and blend on low velocity till mixed. Minimize the butter into ¼-inch cubes, add it to the mixer, and blend on low velocity till the butter is in tiny, pebble-sized items, about 3 minutes. Alternatively, rub the butter into the flour combination along with your fingers till butter is in high-quality bits.
Step 2: Gently fold within the strawberries, taking care to not combine too onerous or for too lengthy because the strawberries will break down much more within the last mixing step.
Step 3: In a liquid measuring cup, mix the milk, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla extract. The vinegar goes to trigger the milk to thicken a bit; that is regular, so don’t be alarmed.
Step 4: Gently fold the strawberries into the flour combination with a rubber spatula. Add the liquids to the flour combination and blend till a sticky dough kinds, just like a cookie dough. It’s possible you’ll must knead the dough a few times by hand to convey all the things collectively.
Step 5: Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking tray. Flip the dough onto the tray and pat it right into a spherical, flat disk about 2 inches thick and seven inches in diameter. Slice the entire strawberries and press them into the highest of the dough.
Step 6: Minimize the scones into 8 equal wedges with a chef’s knife. Place the baking tray within the freezer and chill for a minimum of 1 hour. This step is important to conserving your scones agency in order that the butter doesn’t soften out whereas your scones bake, and in order that they maintain their form within the oven. You possibly can even observe the previous steps the night time earlier than in order for you fresh-baked scones very first thing within the morning with out the ready time.
Step 7: About midway via chilling, preheat the oven to 375 levels.
Step 8: As soon as the scones have chilled for an hour and are good and agency, take them out of the freezer. Separate the scones on the baking sheet, spacing them just a few inches aside. Sprinkle additional granulated sugar on prime.
Step 9: Bake scones for quarter-hour at 375 levels, then flip the oven right down to 350 levels and bake for one more 20 minutes. The scones will nonetheless really feel tender popping out of the oven, however the bottoms shall be brown and they’re going to agency up upon cooling. Watch for 10 minutes earlier than serving. Get pleasure from!
Irene Dambriunas is a pastry chef and baking instructor primarily based in New York Metropolis. You possibly can try extra of her work on Instagram at @blackmetalpastrychef.
Dina Ávila is a photographer in Portland, Oregon.
Recipe examined by Ivy Manning