I think I have mastered scones now.
That is a fresh-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip scone made with Ghiradelli milk chocolate chips. YUM. The recipe that I've written down below is from my friend Christy, but the comments and how I got them to work best in my kitchen are all from me.
Tasty Sugar/Cream Scones
2 3/4 - 3 cups all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur flour)
3 TB sugar1 TB baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
5 TB cold unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
~1/2 cup mix-in (chocolate chips, dried fruit, etc.)
This is way easier to do if you have a stand mixer and a clean surface for kneading. I've found that the beater blade attachment I bought for my Kitchenaid a while back works the best for getting the butter worked into the dry ingredients.
1. Put dry ingredients into mixer. I've found that I need a little less than the 3 cups of flour called for in the original recipe, so I've been going with about 2 3/4 cups and adding in extra if I need it. Mix up the dry ingredients a bit, then turn off mixer.2. Cut up cold butter straight out of the fridge, touching it as little as possible. If you're using a stick of butter, the trick Christy taught me is to cut it into 1/4" slices, then stand the stack up on end and cut the whole stack into quarters. Turn on the mixer (low speed) and add the butter a chunk at a time. Let mixer run a bit more until you get the "crumbly cornmeal" kind of look to the butter/dry mixture.
3. Add your mix-ins if you want to at this point. I'm using about a quarter-bag of chocolate chips per batch and that's coming out really nicely.
4. Get a spatula ready, measure your heavy cream, and pour it into the mixer while it is running. Quickly use the spatula to get the rest of the cream out of the measuring cup, as the mixer isn't going to run for very long once the cream gets incorporated. Stop mixer when it starts to complain, which will be soon.
5. Take the blade/whisk out of the mixer bowl and knock the dough off of it and back into the bowl. Knead the dough in the bowl as much as you can to get any remaining dry ingredients incorporated, then pull it out and knead it a bit more on the clean surface you have ready. Overall kneading needs to be minimized, especially if you don't have time to chill the scones before baking, but you also need to get dough evenly kneaded, so it's a balance.
6. When the kneading is done, shape the scones for baking. I have been happy with making a large round wedge about 3" thick, then cutting it into eighths with a knife. Once you've got your scone shapes, chill them for at least 2 hours and up to several days (if covered with wrap or in tupperware). This is important so that the butter in the scones won't melt before the baking takes place, as that causes collapsed and funky scones (they taste OK though).
7. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. I'm happiest using a baking stone, and that works best if the stone is also preheated to 425 before use. If I put the scones to be baked onto parchment paper, then I can leave the stone in place and just open the door and pop the paper onto the stone. Bake scones until light brown - I've found that 12 minutes gets me just a bit of browning while baking all the way through.
One batch makes 8 palm-size scones, unless you eat too much of the dough before you bake them. Which is understandable, as it's essentially cream/butter/sugar and it's TASTY. So here are the scones before baking:
And after baking is complete:
Super yummy! :D I am especially fond of hot chocolate chip scones eaten while the chips are still melty, that's what I've been having for dessert most nights for the last two weeks. The scones are easy to make and are done in about 15 minutes, and the hardest part is cutting up the butter into small pieces.
So now I've mastered bread and scones. Now if I could just master gluten-free versions of both, we'd be all set. Sadly my one attempt at GF scones was only good immediately out of the oven, they were not good once they cooled down. We'll see if I get brave enough to try again!