Hi Everyone, it’s been a long time since my last post, and I apologize for seemingly dropping off the face of the earth. My hiatus of sorts is now over and I’m back to blogging about my latest food obsession: scones.
In the last several weeks, I’ve baked and eaten close to 84 scones. Seriously. While being somewhat reclusive and introverted, I’ve been gorging on these oh so tasty carbs.
Even when my mother tried to intervene a few weeks ago, telling me: “If you love yourself, you will stop baking scones,” I still kept baking. This past weekend, I ate my latest – and hopefully last – batch in about 1o hours: four before bedtime and 8 the next morning. In all fairness, though, the scones were small and not the large monsters you see in bakeries. Several of the batches I made over the last several weeks were originally baked for friends, but sadly, they never made it out of the kitchen. When I look within myself and think about it, though, those scones never had a chance.
And in case you’re wondering, no, I am not enormous. I could stand to lose 10 to 15 pounds, though.
There are so many reasons why I became obsessed with scones: carbs are such a great comfort to me when I’m feeling blah and these did the trick just fine. The recipe I used is very easy to follow, taking about 30 minutes; so if you can’t get to sleep at night, tossing and turning for hours, you can whip these babies up in no time and have soft, warm scones before finally going to sleep. And, most important of all, after many years of searching and trying, I finally found the perfect scone recipe, one that is so easy to follow that it produces the best scones I’ve ever made. The only other scones I’ve eaten that have come close to these are the ones served for Afternoon Tea at the King Edward Hotel.
I thank G-d for the British Empire and the creation of scones. Traditionally hailing from Scotland, scones come in both the sweet and savoury variety and my favourite are the former. The recipe I used was given to me at a free scone demo and tasting class that I took at the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto, located in the Market Kitchen.
I only learned about this space when my friend Christel invited me to the free class. I’m a big market shopper and didn’t even know that the cooking school existed. It’s tucked up high in the NW corner of the south market right above Paddington’s Pump. This cool venue can easily sit 100 people and has a gorgeous state-of-the-art kitchen with Miele appliances. Besides the free cooking demos and tastings offered every Saturday morning between 9 am and 10 am, special cooking classes and workshops are also offered.
The chef provided many important tips that are essential in scone baking. Without these tips, I would have continued making bad tasting scones.
We made three different types, my favourites being the cream scones. Each and every time I made them, they came out perfectly: with a beautiful crisp exterior and an interior that is light and flaky with a rich buttery flavour. I especially like eating them with plain yogurt and my mum’s homemade strawberry jam. They would probably taste even better with clotted cream but that would add just too many calories.
Classic Cream Scones
2 cups of flour
1/4 cup of sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup 35% whipping cream
1/2 cup currants or raisins
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and place the rack in the middle of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or SILPAT.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and currants or raisins. Cube the butter with a knife and blend into the flour mixture with your fingertips.
The correct mixing of the ingredients is crucial in producing the perfect scone. Mixing the dough with your fingertips helps prevent over mixing and keeps the butter from melting. The butter must be cold so when it is worked into the flour mixture, it looks like small, flour-coated pebbles and not a smooth dough.
In a small measuring cup, whisk together the cream, egg, and vanilla extract. Add this mixture to the flour mixture, and stir just until combined. Do not over mix.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Pat the dough into a half-inch thickness and with a 2-inch cookie cutter, cut out the scones and place them on the baking sheet.
Reduce heat to 350 and bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until slightly brown. The initial higher temperature allows the dough to set quickly, thus producing a light scone with a light to golden brown floury top and bottom with white sides.
These scones taste best the day they are made, especially approximately 30 minutes after coming out of the oven. Scones that are placed close together on the baking sheets will have soft sides and their crusts will be less crispy. If you place them further apart the scones will be crusty all over. If you want crusty scones, cool them uncovered. If a softer crust is desired, then wrap the hot scones in a clean dish towel.
Scones can be served with cream or jam, and they also taste lovely on their own or with a cup of tea. I’ve been told they freeze well, but I wouldn’t know about that.