Saturday, December 13, 2008

Procrastination Cranberry-Almond Scones!

Still in finals, I have decided to write about these wonderful scones I made. I really enjoy making scones- they are so good when they are good! Flakey, buttery goodness. Mmm Mmm Mmm! My work as a baker gave me a valuable understanding of the chemistry underlying baking and gave me a knowledge of how to make scones without a recipe. I'm not saying every recipe I make up is golden, but this one is! You can also experiment with different types of fruits (or no fruit) in your scones. I use frozen cranberries in this recipe but if you wanted to use dried, that would be okay, too.

2 c organic unbleached flour
1 c organic whole wheat flour
2 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/4 c sugar
1.5 sticks very cold organic butter, cut into small cubes (maybe 20 per stick)
1 c frozen cranberries
1/2 c crushed almonds (with or without skin) plus 1/3 c for topping
1 c organic cultured buttermilk

Preheat convection oven to 350 degrees. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flours, baking powder+soda, sugar and salt. Add your very cold butter pieces(which can be cut into pieces and frozen the night before for added coolness), and turn mixer on to low. Keep on mixing until the contents of the bowl resemble cornmeal. You want the pieces of butter to break down into crumbs, but not so much that the butter becomes integrated into the dry ingredients, turning it into, say, a pie dough texture. At this point you can add your frozen cranberries and 1/2 c crushed almonds, and keep mixing on low. Look and see if adding the biggish cranberries provides contrast to help you see the butter crumbs- if it seems the butter pieces are still really big in contrast to the cranberries, keep on mixing before adding anything else. It's great to be able to compare to the cranberries, but if you mix for too long, the cranberries will bleed, which we would like to avoid, unless you are going for pink scones intentionally.
When the mixture looks right, add your buttermilk. Mix until just incorporated- maybe two turns of the paddle. Then remove bowl, and use rubber spatula to scrape around the sides and bottom to make sure its all mixed. Again, we're not going for doughy consistency, exactly.
In fact, what makes scones so great and crumbly is that where a given piece of butter melts will crumble when you bite it. So you want it to not be a homogeneous mixture.
With an ice cream scoop, or in the palm of your hand, shape rounded mounds and place on parchment paper. Top with crushed almond pieces and/or turbinado sugar.
Bake on 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
Let cool.

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