When it come to Scones and Biscuits, the rest of the world may not share the same perception as the Americans. In some countries, or according to some people, there is hardly any distinction between Scones and Biscuits. In fact, both of them are known collectively as Scones. Some books even state explicictly that Scones and Biscuits are the same thing. Many a times, I have came across scone recipes in books and other resources whereby the taste is savoury in nature. Strictly speaking, such recipes should be referred to as recipes for Biscuits.
I think thats enough of the discussion with regard to Scones and Biscuits. After going through an almost bakeless week, my library book - The Art & Soul of Baking, was beckoning to me. So there it goes, my first attempt on Scones - Cream Scones.
My scones are lightly browned as I omitted the egg wash (see notes). Initially, I was a little apprehensive about the amount of liquid. However, the recipe turned out really well, producing scones that are crisp and crumbly on the exterior, yet moist, buttery and fluffy on the inside, even though they did not rise much. That was probably due to the overnight chilling of the dough. They were so good that I could eat them on their own without any jam. I am really glad about my discovery of these cream scones.
Happy Homebaker has provided many useful tips on scone making and detailed instructions on her blog. So do drop by and take a look at her lovely scones.
Cream Scones ( recipe adapted from The Art & Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet)
Serving size: about 16-18 scones
Texture: Crisp and crumbly on the oustide; ultra light,fluffy (almost cake-like) and moist in the exterior, very much similar to the crumbs of a ultra light cake. Taste is buttery and mildly sweet.
Equipment and Materials:
1) Measuring spoon set
2) Flour sift
3) 1 1/12 inch round cookie cutter
4) Mixing bowl
5) Parchment/baking paper
6) Wire rack
7) Weighing scale
8) Wire whisk
9) Flexible spatula
260g plain flour
55g castor sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
120g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
230ml whipping cream, chilled
Making the scones:
Combine dry ingredients: Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Add in the sugar and salt. Use a wire whisk to aerate and disperse the mixture evenly.
Blend in butter: Tip in the cubed butter into the flour mixture. Use your hands and rub the chilled butter into the dry ingredients. The result should be that of fine and coarse flour-coated butter crumbs. Work fast to prevent the butter from melting.
Alternatively, use a pastry cutter or 2 knifes to cut the butter. If using 2 knifes, cut the butter into the flour mixture in a criss cross manner.
A food processor can also be used if you have one. If using a food processor, whisk the dry ingredients together for about 15 seconds. Add in the cubed butter and pulse a few times with 1 second intervals until fine and coarse flour-coated butter crumbs are obtained.
Adding the cream: Pour in the cream into the flour-coated butter crumbs. Use a fork and stir to obtain a moist sticky mixture.
Shaping and chilling dough: Lightly flour a work surface. Turn out the moist sticky mixture onto the work surface and gently gather the mixture together, pressing in stray dry ingredients into the main dough. There is no need to knead the dough. Wrap the dough in cling film and flatten it to obtain a disk 1 inch in height. Chill in the refrigerator or freeze till it is very firm. Dough must be very firm else it will be difficult to work with.
Prepraring the oven: Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 210 degrees C (recipe asked for 220 degrees C).
Cutting out rounds: Once chilled, turn the flattened disk out onto a floured work surface and cut out rounds using a round cookie cutter dusted with flour. Arrange the cut out rounds 1 inch apart on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Gather the remaining scraps, flatten them into a disk 1 inch in height and repeat the chilling process. Repeat the cutting of rounds for a second time.
Gather the final remaining scraps after the 2nd cutting and flatten them into a round disk 1 inch in height, for a final time. Cut the disk into 8 wedges.
Chill all the cut out rounds and wedges for another 20minutes. If the dough is too soft, it will lose its shape in the oven. (That happened to my 2nd batch of scones, they spreaded sideways slightly.)
Baking the scones: Bake the scones for 14 -16 minutes or untill the surface is golden brown. Remove to cool on a wire rack.
1) These Scones taste best when served warm.
2) The taste is rich and buttery that it can be eaten by itself.
3) Dough can be prepared beforehand and chilled overnight (one night maximum) or frozen for weeks. The dough may not rise as much as when it is freshly made on the same day.
4) Store remaining scones in an airtight container. Warm them in a toaster or oven before serving.
5) To make Biscuits, omit the sugar and proceed as mentioned above.
6) I omitted the egg wash as it took longer to brown the scones. If you like, brush some egg wash over the scones and sprinkle a little sugar over each scone. Bake until the top is golden brown. Alternatively, brush some cream or milk over the top of each scone and bake till brown.
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