Yesterday was a hectic day with all the preparations for our Father’s Day celebration and making something for Chocolate Monday. I wanted to find something that I could throw together really quickly and that I could send home with my father-in-law for him to enjoy this coming week. The minute I saw this recipe in my “to make” file, I knew it was perfect.
I love scones but too often they are dry and tough, leaving many people with the impression that this is what they are supposed to be like. In reality they should be tender and moist, a truly delightful treat. One trick is to use cream as the liquid, adding much needed fat that helps keep the scones tender. Cream Scones are common all over the country and you can find many recipes on the Internet with minor variations.
Today’s version is from the pastry chef at The French Laundry, working under Chef Thomas Keller. Lena Kwak is the developer of Cup4Cup, one of the premiere gluten-free flour blends on the market. If you are on a gluten-free diet or need to make something for a person who is, this is a good option. The only challenge is that it is one of the most expensive ones available. That is why I make up my own blend and store it on my counter in a lidded container.
The original recipe made 24 scones, but with just the two of us in the house, The Artist and I would have a lot of trouble eating a whole batch so I cut it in half. One of the biggest challenges when adjusting the yield of a recipe is doing the math. I’ve never been great at fractions, so I have a tool that helps me. It is called a Recipe Divider, a magnetized dial that helps you halve, double, triple a recipe. This is one of those tools that are definitely worth the cost unless you are a math major!
I love these scones and the gluten-free version is definitely better on the second day. There are a couple of benefits to gluten-free baking. First, because there is no gluten in the flour you don’t have to worry about overworking doughs and resulting tough products. The other benefit is that many GF baked goods are even better on the second day. This lets you plan ahead and not have to worry about baking on the same day as you are making all the other dishes for you parties.
Cream scones are the perfect basic recipe from which you can make all sorts of creative treats. Instead of the chocolate chips, you can substitute toffee, peanut butter, cinnamon, or other chips. Try some chopped almonds, pecans, or walnuts. Add citrus zest, a touch of rum or other liquor, other chopped fresh fruit or reduce the sugar and turn them into savory scones maybe with a little crumbled bacon and chives! The sky is the limit!!
I hope you enjoy making these scones for an upcoming Sunday brunch, a luncheon with the ladies, to take to a church potluck, or just because you want a special indulgence. I don’t know about you, but some days I just need a little luxury, LOL!!
Have a wonderful week and Happy Chocolate Monday!!!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
When you are cutting butter into flour make sure you use a very large bowl so you don’t get flour all over the floor! For many years my mother used two table knives to do this. She thought I was being extravagant when I bought my first pastry cutter, LOL!
I just bought this great set of measuring spoons that are rectangular instead of round. In addition to being able to get into small jars, they also include some of the in-between sizes such as 1/8 tsp, 3/4 tsp, etc. Very hand and I’m surprised it took me this long to buy them!! Treat yourself!
When it is time for me to make up a new batch of my gluten-free flour blend, I place the plastic bucket in the sink. Gluten-free flours are very silky and tend to get everywhere. This saves me having to mop the floor when I am done!
Kitchen Skill: Cutting Butter into Flour
The old-fashioned task of cutting butter into flour by hand is becoming a lost art. Most people have begun using their food processor, saving time but losing the personal touch. I love cutting butter into flour using my sturdy pastry cutter.
The idea is to distribute the butter throughout the dry ingredients in small pieces, each completely coated with flour. If you have cold hands you can do this by smearing the mixture between the palms of your hands. But if you are like me and have hot hands, a pastry cutter is the way to go. Make sure you have a table knife nearby to help clean off accumulated butter and flour from the cutter and redistribute it into the bowl.
The primary trick to delectable baked goods is to have a mixture of miniscule bits of butter about the consistency of cornmeal, small pebble-sized pieces, and medium-sized clumps in the mixture. (See photos above.) In addition to its luscious flavor, as the scones bake, these chunks of butter will melt leaving space for air to expand, helping to lift your baked goods.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (or gluten-free flour blend with xanthan gum)
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar
- 3/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt (1/2 tsp if using regular table salt)
- 1 stick plus 2 tbsp cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp heavy cream, more if needed
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp dried cherries (or fresh if available), coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- Additional heavy cream, optional
- Coarse sugar such as Demerara or Turbinado or colored sprinkles, optional
- Preheat oven to 350°F with racks in upper and lower thirds. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the butter to the dry ingredients and using your hands or a pastry cutter, cut in butter until it is distributed evenly, leaving some pea-sized lumps. Stir in cream, using a rubber spatula until all the dry ingredients have been incorporated, adding more cream if needed (see note). Add the cherries and chocolate chips and mix with your hands until evenly distributed.
- Press dough into a rough circle and cut into 12 evenly sized pieces. To do this, cut the circle in quarters and then cut each quarter into three pieces. Transfer to the prepared baking sheets. You can leave them in the triangular shape or roll each piece into balls and flatten with your palm if desired.
- Brush lightly with additional cream and sprinkle with the coarse sugar if desired. Transfer baking sheets to the hot oven and bake 10 minutes. Spin both baking sheets and switch them so the one on the bottom rack is now on the top. Continue baking another 6 to 10 minutes or until golden brown, puffed and firm when gently pressed on the top center.
- Remove from the oven and let sit on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before carefully transferring to wire racks to finish cooling.
- NOTE: Just like when you are making pie dough, this scone dough may need a little more or less cream depending on the weather. In California I usually have to add 2 to 3 more tablespoons of liquid, especially when using gluten-free flours. You want enough liquid so that there are no dried bits left in the bowl and the entire dough holds together. Add the cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it reaches the right consistency.
- If you are baking these with gluten-free flours, they are delicious on the day they are baked but tend to be even better the next day.
- Yield: about 12 scones
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