Thursday, January 26, 2012

It's BACK TO BASICS: SCONES with Daring Bakers

Cream Tea, a quintessential English tradition, is incomplete without freshly baked scones slathered with lashings of clotted cream and jam. In North American, scones are mostly triangular, have a slightly crisp crust usually covered in sugar, a soft interior crumb and sometimes laced with dried fruit. In Australia and England, these baked goods  are called “rock cakes” (since they are usually made to look like “rocky” cakes) and Scones respectively, eaten with butter and jam, with cups of tea or coffee. 
Scones are a type of quick bread made with white flour dough, raised using chemical agents, usually baking powder and/or baking soda. Basic Scones contains flour, raising agent(s), butter (or shortening or lard), salt, and milk (or buttermilk or soured milk or cream). Most recipes just instruct to “rub the fat into the flour” then combine the dry and wet ingredients until “gathered together” and then “lightly knead” the gathered mixture until a soft dough forms. Then “roll or pat” out this dough, “cut” out rounds and bake them in a hot oven. 
Audax Artifex was our host for  Daring Bakers’ January 2012. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (aka biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our kitchen!
I have followed the basic recipe but used Wholemeal, buttermilk and freeze dried raspberries powder in one and Wholemeal-Ricotta-Orange(zest)-Pumpkin seeds-fresh raspberries for the other. Savory ones with mature cheddar and dill made up the third.
 Buttermilk-Raspberry Scones & Ricotta-Orange-Raspberry Scones with pumpkin seeds
 Buttermilk-Raspberry Scones & Ricotta-Orange-Raspberry Scones with pumpkin seeds
(The challenge Scones recipe has been specially formulated by Audax Artifex after a large amount of research).
Basic Scones
1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm/5 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (10 gm) (⅓ oz) fresh baking powder
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1½ gm) salt
2 tablespoons (30 gm/1 oz) frozen grated butter (or a combination of lard and butter)
 approximately ½ cup (120 ml) cold milk
optional 1 tablespoon milk, for glazing the tops of the scones 
1. Preheat oven to very hot 475°F/240°C/gas mark 9.
2. Triple sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. (If your room temperature is very hot refrigerate the sifted ingredients until cold.)
3. Rub the frozen grated butter (or combination of fats) into the dry ingredients until it resembles very coarse bread crumbs with some pea-sized pieces if you want flaky scones or until it resembles coarse beach sand if you want tender scones.
4. Add nearly all of the liquid at once into the rubbed-in flour/fat mixture and mix until it just forms a sticky dough (add the remaining liquid if needed). The wetter the dough the lighter the scones (biscuits) will be!
5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, lightly flour the top of the dough. To achieve an even homogeneous crumb to your scones knead 
 the dough very gently about 4 or 5 times (do not press too firmly) until it is smooth. To achieve a layered effect in your scones knead very gently once (do not press too firmly) then fold and turn the kneaded dough about 3 or 4 times until it forms a smooth texture. (Use a floured plastic scraper to help you knead and/or fold and turn the dough if you wish.)
6. Pat or roll out the dough into a 6 inch by 4 inch rectangle by about ¾ inch thick (15¼ cm by 10 cm by 2 cm thick). Using a well-floured 2-inch (5 cm) Scone cutter (biscuit cutter), stamp out without twisting six 2-inch (5 cm) rounds, gently reform the scraps into another ¾ inch (2 cm) layer and cut two more scones (these two Scones will not raise as well as the others since the extra handling will slightly toughen the dough). Or use a well-floured sharp knife to form squares or wedges as you desire.
7. Place the rounds just touching each other on a baking dish if you wish to have soft-sided scones or place the rounds spaced widely apart on the baking dish if you wish to have crisp-sided scones. Glaze the tops with milk if you want a golden colour on your Scones or lightly flour if you want a more traditional look to your scones.
8. Bake in the preheated very hot oven for about 10 minutes (check at 8 minutes since home ovens at these high temperatures are very unreliable) until the Scones are well risen and are lightly coloured on the tops. The Scones are ready when the sides are set.
9. Immediately place onto cooling rack to stop the cooking process, serve while still warm.
Variations on the Basic recipe
Buttermilk – follow the Basic recipe above but replace the milk with buttermilk, add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda, increase the fat to 4 tablespoons, in Step 3 aim of pea-sized pieces of fat coated in flour, in Step 5 fold and turn the dough, rounds are just touching in the baking dish, glaze with buttermilk.
Cream – follow the Basic recipe above but replace the milk with cream, add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda, in Step 3 aim of beach sand sized pieces of fat coated in flour, in Step 5 knead the dough, rounds are just touching in the baking dish, glaze with cream.
Cheese and Chive /herbs– follow the Basic recipe above but add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda, after Step 2 add ½ teaspoon sifted mustard powder, ¼ teaspoon sifted cayenne pepper (optional), ½ cup (60 gm/2 oz) grated cheese and 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives or herbs into the sifted ingredients, in Step 3 aim of beach sand sized pieces of fat coated in flour, in Step 5 knead the dough, rounds are widely spaced in the baking dish, sprinkle the rounds with cracked pepper.
Fresh Herb – follow the Basic recipe above but after Step 3 add 3 tablespoons finely chopped herbs (such as parsley, dill, chives etc).
Sweet Fruit – follow the Basic recipe above but after Step 3 add ¼ cup (45 gm) dried fruit (e.g. sultanas, raisins, currents, cranberries, cherries etc) and 1 tablespoon (15 gm) sugar.
Wholemeal – follow the Basic recipe above but replace half of the plain flour with wholemeal flour.
Cornish Clotted Cream


Renata said...

Arthi, your scones look amazing, love the flavor profiles you chose, specially the Ricotta-Orange-Raspberry Scones, they must have been delicious!

Audax said...

I absolutely adore the flavour profile you do for your scones so intriguing and I bet delicious and the photos are very professional looking a marvellous posting. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

Debugcooking said...

Thanks so much guyz...yp the Ricotta-Orange-Raspberry was an instant hit ;-)

Anonymous said...

Stunning pictures and amazing flavor profile
You did a brilliant job on this month's challenge

Unknown said...

Love the flavour combos you chose!! Especially ricotta orange. I made ricotta cinnamon scones the other day and they were spectacular, so I'm sure your ricotta orange ones were equally as delicious. Thanks so much for sharing. :)

Nish said...

Beautiful pictures and a gorgeous site :) So glad I found your blog! Following you!

chef_d said...

The scones look delicious! Great job and beautiful pictures!

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