Some treats are so delicious it's hard to believe that they're actually easy to make. These scones are an example. Really, really simple. And delightfully flaky, buttery, and delicious. The lemon zest cuts through some of the sweetness and butter (not that those are bad things) and gives a surprising and fresh element to the flavor.
Here is the full text of the recipe directly from Baking with Julia:
Buttermilk Scones *click here for printable version*
Makes 12 triangular or 24 rolled scones
Think of scones as British biscuits. The are made in a manner similar to biscuits and, in fact, share biscuits' buttery-layered texture, but their name, their shape, and the fact that they're served with tea rather than gravy lift them to the level of fancier fare
Here are scones two ways: the traditional triangle and the rolled--tender buttermilk dough rolled around chopped fruits, nuts, and/or jam. Whichever way you choose, they're luscious: à la the British, with tea and whipped cream, or served the American way, with coffee and a gloss of jam.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 sticks (6 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup (approximately) buttermilk
1 tablespoon grated orange or lemon zest
1/2 stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter, melted, for brushing
1/4 cup sugar, for dusting
4 tablespoons jam or jelly and/or 4 tablespoons diced or small plump dried fruits, such as currants, raisins, apricots, or figs, for filling (optional)
Position the oven racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 425.
Mixing and Kneading:
In a medium bowl stir the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together with a fork. Add the cold butter pieces and, using your fingertips (the first choice), a pastry blender, or two knives, work the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. It's OK if some largish pieces of butter remain--they'll add to the scones' flakiness
Pour in 1 cup buttermilk, toss in the zest, and mix with the fork only until the ingredients are just moistened--you'll have a soft dough with a rough look. (If the dough looks dry, add another tablespoon of buttermilk.) Gather the dough into a ball, pressing it gently so that it holds together, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead it very briefly--a dozen turns should do it. Cut the dough in half.
To make triangular shaped scones: roll one piece of the dough into a 1/2-inch-thick circle that is about 7 inches across. Brush the dough with half of the melted butter, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and cut the circle into 6 triangles. Place the scones on an ungreased baking sheet and set aside while you roll out the rest of the dough.
To make rolled scones: roll one piece of dough into a strip that is 12 inches long and 1/2-inch-thick (the piece will not be very wide). Spread the strip with half of the melted butter and dust with half of the sugar. If you want to spread the roll with jam and/or sprinkle it with dried fruits, now's the time to do so; leave a narrow border on a long edge bare.
Roll the strip up from a long side like a jelly roll; pinch the seam closed and turn the roll seam side down.
Cut the roll in half and cut each piece into six 1-inch-wide roll-ups. Place the rolled scones cut side down on an ungreased baking sheet, leaving a little space between each one. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Baking the scones:
Bake the scones for 10 to 12 minutes, until both the tops and bottoms are golden. Transfer the scones to a rack to cool slightly. These are best served warm but are just fine at room temperature.
If you're not going to eat the scones the day they are made, wrap them airtight and freeze; they'll stay fresh for a month. To serve, defrost the scones at room temperature in their wrappers, then unwrap and reheat on a baking sheet for 5 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
Contributing Baker--Marion Cunningham
(the woman behind the Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
(the woman behind the Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
A few notes:
I don't use a lot of buttermilk in my baking, and it only comes in quart-size bottles from my dairy delivery, which I just can't use quickly enough. So, I make my own buttermilk. I combine 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and allow it to sit for 10 to 15 minutes until it is slightly curdled. It works just as well as the other stuff.
I didn't have enough unsalted butter for everything, so I used all unsalted in the dough and half salted in what I melted for brushing on. It was just fine.
I had never heard of rolled scones, and wanted to try them. I used dried cherries (one of my favorite things), but you could experiment with all kinds of nuts and fruits and jams and...I look forward to doing that. I actually like them a little better than the triangular scones because they're smaller. It doesn't say anything about adding fruits to triangular scones, but if you wanted to, I imagine you could just combine them with the dry ingredients before adding the buttermilk and the dough would still be roll-able.
I like to eat my scones with raspberry jam and whipped cream. But these are so buttery and flaky you really don't need to add anything and they're still lovely. I took them to a cocktail party. And even though they're not the usual cocktail party fare, they were well and truly gone by the time I left, so, they must have been good.
TGIP Rating--Buttermilk Scones--KEEPER (and try lots of different variations--you could even make a cinnamon roll version that would be mmm delicious)
Next up: Trying to pack one's kitchen into boxes and still have what one needs to prepare food is...complicated. So, next I'm going to do something that is neither heavy on the ingredients nor the necessary tools. I'm going to alter a recipe from my childhood (I have no idea where the recipe comes from--Pie Queen?). We used to make Chewy Walnut Squares and they were simple and crunchy and chewy and delicious. I'll be changing them to Chewy Pecan Squares.