Saturday, May 23, 2009

Scones 2 ways

Looks good, right? ...Let's examine the road to getting to the above product. The chocolate scones will come later; for now....strawberry!

It's apparently National Strawberry Month and my work hosted a Strawberry Feast where employees brought strawberry dishes of their choosing to share. Okay, sounds great at first. As I've mentioned before, I don't bake. Or, at least I try, but cooking is more my thing. Cooking allows you to express your creativity and taste and add and get enlightened and add another key ingredient that changes the whole flavor. Baking is exact. 1 tablespoon of this. 2 cups of that. I'm not knowledgeable enough to tamper with baked goods recipes. So I feel really boxed in.

So back to Strawberry Feast. I just wasn't going to participate. You want a savory dish? Sure, no problem. But baked good?! Eh... Until I got suckered into it because no one was signing up. So they asked me to bring something since they know I'm a foodie. Sigh... now what? Strawberry mousse? Blah. Strawberry cheesecake? Too much to do on a work night. Trifle? Too common. And then I stumbled upon this. Go ahead, look. I'll wait. getting me now? All of a sudden I was inspired. SCONES! Of course. Not too sweet. Right up my alley. I love a semi-sweet baked good that goes with tea or coffee. (I guess I get that from my time living in France. Plus, I've never been a dessert person anyways.) Now we're talking. And it looked so simple! What could go wrong?! And this time, no cutting out butter or sugar or cream to make it healthier. Those don't seem to turn out, as history has revealed. So here we go...

Strawberry Scones
(courtesy of Confessions of a Tart)

1 cup strawberries (or other fruit)
3 tablespoons sugar (granulated)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, in cubes, slightly softened

2/3 cup half-and-half or cream or cold buttermilk (I used half and half)

1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.

Cut strawberries into small pieces. Sprinkle fruit with 1/2 tablespoon sugar; set aside. (I also added a 1/4 teaspoon of good Madagascar vanilla extract to the berries. You could add it or omit if you choose.) Be sure to make the pieces small, or they tend to fall out of the dough.

Combine remaining sugar with flour, baking powder and salt. Add butter, using a pastry cutter or 2 knives to cut in butter. (I used my hands to best incorporate the butter.) Stir in fruit; then add cream/half-and-half/buttermilk all at once. Use spatula to gently stir dough until it holds together.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times to incorporate dry ingredients. Be gentle so you don't break up the berries and don't overwork the dough. Sprinkle dough with flour if it gets sticky. (This dough is VERY sticky, so liberally use flour to pat out the dough into a circle.)

Press (pat) the dough into a circle 3/4 inch thick. If any berries peek out, push them into dough. Cut circle into 6-8 wedges, then transfer wedges to the cookie sheet, leaving at least 1/2 inch of space between them. Bake 15 minutes.

Sprinkle with sugar and bake 5-10 more minutes or until the tops are beginning to brown and spring back when you push them. (The sprinkling of sugar over the top for the last few minutes of baking creates a simple, sparkly topping.)

Okay, you know something is going to be good when your batter smells like strawberries and cream. Really. I still remember that smell just looking at the picture!
I made tiny, thin scones since I was trying to feed the masses at work. I made two batches of tiny, two-bite scones. They look like blobs of dough in the picture below. The dough is really sticky and I hadn't quite figured out how to cut and transfer them without ruining the shape. By the second batch I had it down. I found that if my pizza cutter worked better than a knife to cut the dough if floured well. Now they begin to take the typical scone shape. Well-floured dough and the pizza cutter made a HUGE difference!
My camera was acting up on this day, so the pictures aren't very clear, but you get the picture! I love the sugary topping since it adds a simple sparkle to the top. Plus, scones don't have much sugar, so the added sweetness goes a long way. I'm happy to say they were a hit! I'm very particular about sharing subpar food with other people. I take it to heart if my food isn't good, so I was scared to try a new recipe for a work function. But this recipe is a keeper. Please give this a try and adapt with any fruit--or chocolate--you like! Now onto the second attempt with chocolate chunks! My boyfriend loves anything chocolate chunk or chip-- muffins, pancakes, bagels, etc. So since I loved the scone recipe I wanted to try it again two days later with chocolate. I tend to like things rustic, so instead of using chocolate chips, I used my go-to Lindt 70% dark chocolate and chopped it into small chunks. (I use this chocolate for my homemade hot chocolate and my chocolate molten cakes as well.)

I used half wheat flour, half all-purpose flour this time around-- so 1 cup all-purpose, 1 cup wheat. I noticed the batter was much drier once I added the 2/3 cups half and half, so I added around 1/3 cup more to the batter so it wouldn't be too dry. Since I wasn't making these for work, I made them closer to the normal scone size. After they baked I noticed they missed some pizazz on top. (I didn't add the sugar topping to this batch.) So I quickly whisked together half and half, confectioners sugar, and more Lindt chocolate over low heat. Once it thickened and cooled slightly I spooned it into a plastic sandwich bag, snipped the tip, and drizzled it over the top. Beautiful!!

Chocolate Scones
(adapted from Confessions of a Tart)

1 cup chocolate chunks
3 tablespoons sugar (granulated)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, in cubes, slightly softened

1 - 1 1/3 cup half-and-half or cream or cold buttermilk (I used half and half)
I had good natural light coming in this day, so I tried to capture it to get a better picture. I love how these look!

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