A beautiful scone beats a biscuit hands down—in my humble opinion. For most Southerners, those could very well be fighting words. But, since this is my blog, I will continue. Scones make a handy quick bread for breakfast, a special brunch, or an afternoon snack with tea. These have real character. Their rough-hewn shape shouts, ‘Hearty country, made with love! Fresh from the oven!’
Blueberries are outstanding in these scones, but they also worthy of Oregon’s Marionberries or even pitted cherries. In this batch I’ve substituted ¾-cup whole wheat flour for ¾-cup all-purpose flour, and for fruit, dried cranberries and apricots. Dried fennel, other herbs and spices are obvious additions, whether in lieu of fruit or as a complement.
Scones are a snap to make with a food processor, but I have made them using 2 knives to cut the butter into the flour—much like making a pie dough. Beyond that, it’s a simple matter of stirring the liquid into dry and forming the dough into two loaves, with the least amount of possible fuss.
The secret to light scones is minimal handling and a moderately hot oven for fast rising. To do this, quickly form into two rounds and score the tops—instead of shaping individually. Cool briefly before slicing into portions and enjoy hot with butter, jam, or straight up. Store whole loaves lightly wrapped, reheat, and cut to order. For more ideas, check out the variations that follow.
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. baking powder
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup chilled butter cut into small chunks, or shortening
2 large eggs, beaten with enough milk to equal 2/3 cup
Optional finishing for tops: 2-3 tbsp. milk, 2-3 tbsp. demerara or cinnamon-sugar
- Butter a baking sheet or line with silpat. Preheat oven to 375°.
- In a mixing bowl sift the flour through salt.
- Using a food processor or 2 knives, cut the butter into flour mix until it becomes a grainy texture.
- Make a well in the center of the butter-flour and pour in the egg-milk liquid. Stir briefly to bring ingredients together and fold in fruit or other additions if using (details below).
- Turn out onto a floured surface and lightly knead if shaggy and form a round. Divide mound in half and pat into 2-6″ rounds, about 3/4″ thick. Mark the tops into 5-6 wedges with a sharp knife.
- Place on a greased sheet. Brush the tops evenly with milk and dust with sugar. Bake at 375° approximately 20 minutes, until golden brown. Yield: 10-12 scones.
1 cup blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, etc. (fresh or frozen, defrosted)
2 tbsp. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
Dust the berries with flour and cinnamon. Gently add to the flour-fat mixture after the egg-milk liquid. Proceed as directed.
Dried Fruit Variation: to dough add 1 cup dried fruit such as cranberries, apricots, dates, cherries, or any combination
Score each round into 6-8 wedges. Dust thumb with flour and press down into middle of each section, making 1/2″-3/4″ wide hole. Fill each impression with favorite jam (about 1/4 cup total). Brush with milk, sprinkle with sugar and bake. Serve hot.