SHF #3- Jolly Good

by Jeanne

Teacup I had a photo of these breakfast pastries but my digicamera is not cooperating.  They look like drop scones–nothing too sexy–but certainly tasty. The replacement image was "borrowed" from a groovy "tea shirt" shop online that has a number of worthwhile items. 

Scotland is home to heather, haggis, bagpipes, and scones. Pronounced “skon” in Scotland and throughout Northern England; or as “skoan” in the South of England. According to the Oxford Food Companion scones are a close cousin to bannock. In the beginning the tea cakes were leavened rounds of barley or oat flour cut into wedges and baked on a cast iron griddle or pan over an open tire. Some say the name scone comes from the place where the Kings of Scotland were crowned—the Stone (Scone) of Destiny.

Although a less sweet version was brought to the states by the English over 200 years ago they have now evolved into something between a biscuit and a muffin—the more sophisticated and sweeter cousin—and now start many an American’s morning or afternoon ‘cuppa’ tea break. Throughout England scones are often served with clotted cream, lemon curd or preserves–a welcome break in the afteroon.

Scones consist of flour, butter, eggs, leavening and a liquid usually milk, cream or yogurt. It is a quick bread that is simple and as Jamie Oliver quips “easy peasy”. Just don’t handle it too much or it’ll turn out tough and dry. If done correctly the interior should be light, flaky and soft.

In the cookbook Once Upon a Tart, bakeshop and café owners Frank Mentesana and Jerome Audureau share their secret to making good, flaky scones as “quick” and “cold”. Keep the butter from melting until it gets into the oven where the heat causes the dough to separate into little layers. They also stress not overworking the dough. This instruction is critical—did I mention that?

Note: If you want scones with crusty tops and bottoms place the scones close together on the baking sheet. For a softer consistency leave the scones on the baking sheet and lightly cover with a clean tea towel.


Pear Nutmeg Scones

The use of yogurt gives this scone more of an Irish soda bread consistency.

Ingredients:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 tspn salt

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tspn nutmeg

1 tblspn baking powder

6 tblspns cold butter, cut into small cubes

2 eggs, beaten

1/3 cup vanilla yogurt

1/2 tspn almond extract

1 cup stewed whole and diced pears

tblspns melted butter

2 tblspns granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 375F. In a large bowl, sift the flour, salt, sugar, nutmeg, and baking powder together. Work the butter into the dry ingredients, using your fingertips or a fork or pastry blender.

Whip the two eggs. Add in the yogurt, and almond extract. Stir this into the dry ingredients. Add the pears and stir just until mixed. It will be VERY sticky. Do not over mix.

Liberally flour the counter and your hands. Put the dough on the counter and pat it into a 1-inch-thick rectangle. Cut into 10 triangular scones or place on well-greased cookie sheet and make one big round and score into 10 sections before baking. As this dough is particularly sticky it is not worth the risk of overworking to roll out and cut. Simply drop it in equal portions on the baking sheet. This will yield free form scones that will rise and speak forming a craggy top and crispy edges.

Brush with the melted butter and sprinkle with the sugar. Bake for 20 minutes. Test with a toothpick or a cake tester by inserting into a scone and it comes out dry.

Nutmeg Cream

Unfortunately, Americans cannot make clotted cream or Devonshire cream, as we do not have the same breed of cows as in England. Sure you could buy something close or an imported version but instead I improvised a “clotted cream” as I wanted to keep with the SHF #3 theme.

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 tbs sugar

1/4 tsp orange peel, finely chopped

1/4 tsp vanilla

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

In a chilled metal bowl, beat all ingredients until soft peaks form. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours.

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