Saturday, May 15, 2010

Now again, with feeling

When I made these scones, John promptly declared, "These aren't scones!" When I demanded to know what he was babbling about, why, of course they're scones, he said something to the tune of, "Scones don't have this much flavor." Well, as a scone-lover/fiend, I was a little bothered by this notion that scones are just slightly sweeter biscuits. Scones are distinctly different and should behave as such, no matter what the prevalent coffee-shop scone vibe insists. These scones are somewhat roguish, giving sleepy tastebuds a jolt on those sleepy mornings when cereal just isn't going to cut it. I went for broke and used a nice goat bleu, which imparts extra tang, but be aware that I'm something of a flavor junkie, so follow your gullet and improvise or adjust as you feel necessary. The basic scone recipe below is also great adapted to sweet variations. Simply, add 5 tablespoons sugar to the other dry ingredients and your flavorings of choice (frozen fruit, zest, chocolate...).

Bluesy Bacon-Walnut Scones
--3 c. all-purpose flour
--1 T. plus 1 tsp. baking powder
--1 tsp. salt
--1 stick plus 2 T. butter, chilled and cubed, plus extra for brushing
--1 c. buttermilk
--1 egg
--1/2 c. walnuts, slightly toasted, cooled, and chopped
--1/4-1/2 c. crumbled bleu cheese
--4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled

1.) Preheat oven to 350.

2.) Whisk together all dry ingredients.

3.) Cut in cubed butter with a pastry blender or with your hands until flour mixture resembles coarse meal (this is a somewhat confusing baking term, but the idea is that you want the butter to be somewhat incorporated but still in small pieces so that during the baking process the dough becomes flaky from all the little pockets of butter that melt).

4.) Add buttermilk and egg and stir until dough barely starts to come together.

5.) Add walnuts, cheese, and bacon and knead into dough.

6.) Turn dough out onto a very lightly floured work surface. The less flour the better. Knead briefly, just until you can get the dough to come together in a ball. Flatten the ball into a thick disc, about 1-2 inches thick. This is a little subjective, though. If you like your scones flatter and with more crusty surface area, make the disc thinner. If you like them fluffier and taller, make a thick disc. Cut the disc into eight wedges and place on a baking sheet. A baking stone is ideal, as it makes them crustier and allows them to cook more evenly, but a baking sheet is fine too.

7.) Brush with melted butter.

8.) Bake until golden, about 30 minutes. If you made the scones thinner, you'll want to check on them before 30 minutes is up, but, as always, use your discretion and know your oven.

9.) Cool completely and serve solo (these scones are divas--they like lots of stage time) or with pesto cream cheese (I mixed some leftover ramp pesto with cream cheese, and it was as dank as it sounds--like I said, flavor junkie).

1 comment:

Camille said...

Scones are amazing morsels of creativity and goodness. I loved working at the tea room a couple of years ago (Kathleen's, in Fletcher) because the baker had free reign with scone combinations.
I'm in Nashville right now visiting with a friend and in the morning we'll be going to a bakery that features scones as the main attraction.
Lemongrass, Ginger, Thyme; Mocha Coconut.
Endless Possibilities.
Keep posting and being wonderful!