Tuesday, January 12, 2016

An Updated Scone Recipe

A couple of months back I discovered a brand-new publication called "BAKE from scratch". I have written about the magazine, most recently in my blog post of November 12, 2015. The magazine is absolutely gorgeous. I am not affiliated with the magazine, or it's owners or contributors in any way. I just fell in love with the magazine. I just today bought the 2nd edition. In the Premiere edition, there were recipes for 8 different kinds of scones. Let me say right here,
So, over the course of the couple of months since I bought that premiere edition, I have made all but one of the scone recipes. I took the magazine with me when we went out to Denver over the holidays. We were gone three weeks and I made two of the scone recipes while visiting with my sisters. One of them that I had been putting off making was for Earl Grey Currant Scones. What is interesting is that a couple of years back I had created a recipe for Earl Grey Currant Scones with Lavender and Pecans. At that time, I used my own "base recipe" and tweaked it to use the ingredients as I wanted them. Some of my methods were a little fussy, perhaps. Still, the scones were, hands-down, the best scones, ever. Obviously, this is my own personal taste, but even smelling them baking was amazing. This is that older recipe I created two years ago:

Earl Grey Currant Scones with Lavender and Pecans

makes 8 scones
Earl Grey Currant Scones with Lavender and Pecans

1 tablespoon loose leaf Earl Grey tea, or 2 teabags
¼ cup boiling water
½ cup currants
¾ cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon lavender flowers
1 cup cake flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup organic coconut sugar
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, very cold
2/3 cup pecans, in coarse chunks
More buttermilk and sugar for brushing and sprinkling

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (375 on Convection Bake). Lightly grease a baking sheet and set aside. Soak the Earl Grey tea in the boiling water for 5 minutes. Strain the tea over a small bowl with the currants. Press down on the tea - leaves or bag - to get all the liquid possible. Set aside. Measure out the buttermilk and stir in the lavender flowers to soak. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, sift or whisk together both kinds of flour, the sugar baking powder, soda and salt. Either grate the cold butter into the flour mixture on a large holed grater, or cut the butter into small cubes. Work the butter into the flour mixture until crumbly, using either fingertips or a pastry cutter. Add both the currants with any remaining tea and the buttermilk/lavender mixture and toss lightly with a fork until the mixture begins to come together. Add in the pecans.

Turn the mixture out onto a floured surface and pat out to about a 10-inch diameter circle. Fold the dough in half, patting and pressing out again to a circle. Repeat the folding and patting put about 6 to 8 times. Now pat out the dough to about an 8-inch diameter circle. Cut across into either 6 or 8 wedges. Place them on the prepared baking sheet, about ½ inch apart. Brush the tops with some buttermilk and sprinkle a good pinch of sugar evenly over the surface. Bake the scones for about 20 minutes, until golden.

There is little about scones I don't like. I am of the "no egg" mindset when it comes to scones, and that usually leaves them a bit dry and crumbly. I love them anyway. I have always loved using buttermilk in scones or biscuits, so I compensated on the fat (for moistness and tenderness) by using a whole stick of butter.  
Updated Earl Grey Currant Scones with Lavender and Pecans

Enter the New Magazine 

When I got the "BAKE from scratch" magazine and found all the scone recipes, I noticed that they, too had a base recipe, off of which all the recipes were created. Some that had something moist added in (sweet potato or ricotta, for example) used a little more flour to compensate. All the recipes used about the same amount of salt, baking powder and sugar. Instead of buttermilk, they used heavy cream and they used less butter than I had been using in my recipes. 

While visiting with my sisters, I made the recipe for Earl Grey Currant Scones from "BAKE". I was interested in them from various angles. Would they be more moist and tender, due to the amount of butter and the use of heavy cream? Would they be better than how mine came out, or would they fall behind in the flavor department? One thing that was done very differently in the magazine's recipe is that instead of brewing the Earl Grey tea, they ground it, left it dry and added it to the flour. While they did not plump the currants at all, if one has moist currants it doesn't really matter. 

Updated Earl Grey Currant Scones with Lavender and Pecans
Ultimately, while I liked the recipe from "Bake", I did miss the addition of the lavender and pecans. I resolved to make some changes in my recipe and see how they would come out. I used heavy cream instead of buttermilk. I used 5 tablespoons of butter instead of 8. I used more baking powder, no soda and more salt. But to make the recipe less fussy, I also ground the whole leaf Earl Grey tea and added it to the flour mixture. I kept the part about soaking the lavender flowers. 

The outcome was wonderful. While the look of the scones was no different from my old ones, and even the flavors were not different enough to detect from memory (last time I made them was 8 months past), I think that there was a difference in moistness and tenderness. I believe from now on I will make my Earl Grey Currant Scones with Lavender and Pecans using this new method.


Something I started doing while at my sister's house making scones: I combined the dry ingredients and cut in the cold butter the night before, adding in the currants or nuts (as the recipe might call for) and then covered the bowl tightly and refrigerated overnight. This saved time in the morning, when all I had to do was preheat the oven, add the cream to the dry mixture and form the scones before baking. This is something I found particularly helpful, particularly in guest situations, when preparing things in the morning can end up chaotic. Having most of the prep done and cleaned up is wonderful, and I will be using this method most often from now on, guests or no!

Updated Earl Grey Currant Scones with Lavender & Pecans

Earl Grey Currant Scones, just baked
makes 8

1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon dried lavender flowers
1 tablespoon Earl Grey tea (from sachets or whole, ground) 
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
5 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
1/2 cup currants
1/2 cup chopped pecans

extra 1 - 2 tablespoons heavy cream
extra sugar for topping

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Set a piece of parchment onto a baking sheet.

Stir the lavender flowers into the cream and set aside while prepping the dry ingredients. In a large bowl combine the flour, tea, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir to combine. If you own a very sturdy pastry cutter, add in the cold, unsalted butter and cut in until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Otherwise, grate the cold butter into the flour mixture with a larger holed grater and proceed to cut in the butter as described. Stir in the currants and the pecans. Add in the heavy cream and lavender flowers and mix quickly with a fork to moisten. Gather the mixture gently and quickly, as for pie dough, handling as little as possible. 

Depending on where you live and what the humidity level is, you might need a little more cream to get all the crumbs to come together.
Before and After Baking - showing why they must be set apart to bake!

Once most of the crumbs adhere together, spray a counter with non-stick spray and turn out the dough. Pat into an 8-inch circle. Use a large chef knife or a bench scraper to cut the circle into 8 wedges. Use the knife or scraper to lift each wedge to the prepared parchment lined pan, keeping them at least 1-inch apart. Brush the tops with the extra heavy cream and then sprinkle the tops with the extra sugar.

Bake the scones for 13 to 18 minutes, until golden.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.