During college, I lived in England for one semester. There were many, many things I learned from that experience, but culinarily speaking; I learned how to gauge a good scone from a bad one. What is a scone? (cue English accent) It is a slightly sweet or savory quick bread without yeast – taking on a crunchier tone. And yes, it originated in the United Kingdom. All hail the Queen! Some of the best scones I ever tasted were in England and some of the worst I have tasted were in America. It seems our culture lacks the concern for what a scone was created to be – buttery, crunchy and oh so slightly sweet. Sorry my friends, but Starbucks and Panera don’t count. They are way too sweet and often topped with icing (gasp!) – not how our English neighbors intended. The easy scone recipe I am using today has only 1/3 cup sugar in the entire batch. Combined with the proper amount of unsalted butter, cream, eggs, nuts, dried fruit, and orange peel and baked in a hot oven, you have yourself a delicious and authentic scone!
With Christmas approaching, now is the perfect time to make scones for those spontaneous guests…and impress them, you will! Using this recipe from the book Simply Scones by Leslie Weiner and Barbara Albright, any fruit or nut that you have on hand will work. How long does it take to make a batch of scones? My friends, less time than a homemade cake. They are really quite easy. You can even make your scones in a food processor which saves both time and clean up. So what are we waiting for? Let’s get our scone on!
Come on in to my kitchen!
Here are the ingredients. Pretty basic. The recipe calls for grated lemon peel, but I am substituting orange. Somehow I think orange is a more “Christmas-y” flavor. You will also notice unsalted butter. Unsalted butter contains more butter fat and will help inhibit the formation of gluten, something we don’t want in excess when making our crunchy scone. Consider it a rule of thumb when making scones.
As with most of my beloved baking recipes, start off by toasting your nuts! You don’t want to skip this step because toasting really brings out the flavor of the nut. And you are going to have your oven preheated anyway, so there really is no extra time involved. Pop those nuts in a 325 degree oven for 8 minutes. The recipe calls for walnuts, but I’m using both walnuts AND pecans today.
While the nuts are a toastin,’ combine 2 ¼ cups all purpose white flour, 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar, 2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder and ½ teaspoon salt. Whirl them all around in your food processor or whisk by hand.
Cut up 1 stick of cold unsalted butter and add it to your food processer. Pulse several times until you get coarse crumbs. Again, you can do this step with just a pastry blender. Set the mixture aside for now.
In another bowl, whisk together 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream (may sub milk), 1 large egg, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and ¼ teaspoon grated orange peel. You can see from the picture that I completely mutilated the orange. Cuties or halos are not the best for grating, but in desperate times, little oranges work fine! 🙂
Now, with your food processor on, pour in the creamy orange mixture. Keep the machine going until you get a nice solid ball of dough. What I love about this dough is that it’s not at all sticky to work with, yet very moist!
Hoist that dough onto a lightly floured surface and drop ½ cup chopped toasted nuts and an entire 8 oz. package of chopped dates on top. I know what you are thinking : That’s way too many nuts and fruits for that amount of dough. But oh contraire! In only a couple minutes of lightly folding the mix by hand…
You have this! Again, the dough is not sticky, so it’s actually quite an enjoyable venture to work in the nuts and fruit.
Pat the dough down into an approximate 9 inch circle and place on a greased baking sheet. With a serrated knife, cut the circle into 12 wedges. You do this before baking because it’s much easier to get them apart after they are baked without breaking. Crunchy desserts will do that, you know. And alas, the secret to a beautiful golden scone….brush the entire top and sides with some egg yolk mixed with a bit of water. Easy! Now go tell your friends.
Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven (turn the oven up when the nuts are done) for 20 minutes. At this point, the scones will be golden, but still a bit wet in the middle. After making scones for years, I found that if I take them out of the oven and pull them apart ever so slightly to allow more air flow, the scones will bake perfectly the rest of the way – about another 8-10 minutes. Scones are done when a toothpick inserted into the tip of the triangle comes out clean.
Remove the scones to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes.
These guys are not only full of flavor, but also have an authentic texture – crunchy, yet not hard….and just sweet enough. Perfect with a spot of tea. Serve just as they are or with a side of soft butter. Either way, after this, you will want to hang the British flag in your living room.
- ½ cup walnuts (or other nut), toasted
- 2 ¼ cups all purpose white flour
- ⅓ cup packed dark brown sugar
- 2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt.
- 1 stick cold unsalted butter
- ⅓ cup heavy whipping cream (may sub milk)
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon grated orange peel
- 8 oz. dates, chopped
- egg yolk for basting
- Start off by toasting your nuts in a 325 degree oven for 8 minutes.
- While the nuts are toasting, whisk or process 2 ¼ cups all purpose white flour, ⅓ cup packed dark brown sugar, 2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder and ½ teaspoon salt.
- Cut in or process 1 stick of cold unsalted butter until you get coarse crumbs. Set aside.
- In another bowl, whisk together ⅓ cup heavy whipping cream (may sub milk), 1 large egg, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and ¼ teaspoon grated orange peel.
- Using your food processor or whisk, add the creamy orange mixture to the flour mixture. Work the dough until you get a nice solid ball. It will be moist, but not sticky.
- On a lightly floured surface, gently fold in ½ cup chopped toasted nuts and 8 oz. chopped dates until dispersed evenly.
- Pat the dough down into an approximate 9 inch circle and place on a greased baking sheet. With a serrated knife, cut the circle into wedges.
- Brush the entire top and sides with some egg yolk mixed with a bit of water.
- Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20 minutes. Then pull them apart ever so slightly to allow more air flow and bake another 8-10 minutes. Scones are done when a toothpick inserted into the tip of the triangle comes out clean.
- Remove the scones to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes.
Meredith is a pastor’s wife and stay-at-home mom living in NW Ohio. She loves to adapt recipes to her family’s eclectic tastes and is learning to provide nourishment for any bellies who walk through the door at a moment’s notice. If not in the kitchen, you’ll find Meredith in front of her sewing machine or spending quality time with her home and church families. Life goes by so fast!