Scones may be the most silent, underrated baked good. And making the scone of your dreams — one that fits every possible descriptor you could want in a pastry — is surprisingly feasible. Not only do scones allow for endless creativity in flavor combinations, but they can also be at your disposal at any given time. The dough keeps well in the freezer and can be ready for eating in about 20 minutes — perfect for a busy college student’s morning.
To help you get started:
- The key to making a good scone is a lot of fat, so don’t be afraid of that butter and heavy cream!
- Scone dough needs to be COLD. When it goes into the oven, the frozen bits of butter are what puff up and create pockets, creating perfectly risen, flaky scones. Warm dough won’t release the steam that makes a scone rise in the same way that cold dough does. So, to keep that dough nice and cool, freeze the butter for at least 10 minutes before you start to make the dough, keep your heavy cream very, very cold and work quickly — your hands hold a lot of heat!
- To achieve that oh-so-delicate flakiness that we so long for in a scone, fold over the dough a few times in different directions to create layers, but avoid overworking. Excessive handling may activate the gluten in the flour, giving your scones an undesirably hard texture.
- Use a bench scraper. It makes things quick and easy, and minimizes the amount of contact between your hands and the dough.
- After making the dough, put it in the freezer for at least 20 minutes to ensure that it’s cold and will retain its shape while baking.
- After baking, allow the scones to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before eating. You’ll be rewarded with an utterly crisp exterior.
I’ve developed a recipe for strawberry and basil scones. The bursts of tangy, sweet strawberries go extremely well with the bright and sharp flavors of the basil. For more variety, you can take out the strawberry and basil, and replace them with any other ingredients you’d like!
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ¾ tablespoons baking powder
- A pinch of salt
- 4 tablespoons frozen butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
- ½ cup frozen strawberries
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil
- ¾ cup chilled heavy cream, plus more for brushing
- Turbinado sugar
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.
- Using a bench scraper, cut the butter into the flour mixture until evenly distributed and crumbly, like the texture of coarse meal with small, pebble-sized bits of butter throughout.
- Add the frozen strawberries and basil, or other add-ins.
- Pour the heavy cream over the dry mixture, and stir just until the dough comes together. There will still be some dry floury bits at the bottom of the bowl.
- Transfer everything from the bowl onto a pastry board and mound together. Flatten to a disk about ¾ inch thick, using your palms.
- Using your bench scraper, fold the dough over in half. Flatten and shape to a ¾ inch disk. Rotate 90 degrees. Repeat this step 3 more times.
- Cut your circle of dough into eight even triangles.
- Freeze your scone dough for at least 20 minutes.
- When you’re ready to bake, brush the tops with cream and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
- Bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes before eating.
Other possible variations:
- Candied ginger and black sesame (Add ½ cup of candied ginger and 2 tablespoons of black sesame seeds.)
- Miso scallion (Stir 1 ½ tablespoons of miso into the heavy cream, add 2 tablespoons of finely chopped scallion, reduce the sugar to 1 tablespoon and finish with sea salt and black pepper.)
- Apple thyme (Add ½ cup diced frozen apples and 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves.)
- Raspberry tarragon (Add ½ cup frozen raspberries and 1 tablespoon of dried tarragon.)