Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cream Scones: A Theme and Variations

In my world, there's a bright line between "cooking" and "baking." Cooking is art, baking is science. I use my right brain when I cook, but when I bake ...

Like my sleuth, Tally Jones, I've always been a color-inside-the-lines kind of gal. In short, I'm an expert rule-follower. That translates well into baking. The recipe says "pulse six seconds," and I'm counting "one Mississippi, two Mississippi . . ." The recipe says "sift flour before measuring," and I'll dirty four bowls to properly measure that flour. I'm patient, if not always inspired, so my biscuits come out flaky and light every time. But I rarely let myself go nuts playing with flavors.

The one exception to the "follow the rules" rule of baking is, oddly, with scones. I love, love, love scones. I have two recipes that I adore. One is butter-based (it involves freezing the butter and then grating it on a box grater before mixing with the flour, so you get these wonderful pockets of air when the butter melts during baking -- oy). It's incredible, and produces heavenly scones, but it's labor (and butter) intensive. I've made this butter scone with blueberries and raspberries, but I haven't been brave enough to play with it much . . . if I tried a variation and it came out nasty, I would feel like I'd wasted a lot of effort for no reward.

The other base recipe, though, is a cream scone ... and it's so easy, I can't even tell you. Five ingredients. One bowl. Thirty minutes, tops ... and you have light, moist, delicious scones.

Once I found this recipe and made it, oh, six or seven times, I started playing with flavor combinations. Because the base recipe is so simple, the investment in experimentation is small. And, boy, have the results been wonderful. So here is the basic cream scone recipe, along with three of my favorite tweaks. Don't be afraid to try your own ... and be sure to share if you come up with a winner!

Basic Cream Scone Recipe

2 c. flour (all purpose)
1/4 c. sugar
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 c. whipping cream

Preheat oven to 425.

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add whipping cream and fold gently until dough forms. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead ever-so-gently until the doug holds together. Form dough into a 1/2 inch thick square. Quarter the square, and then slice each square diagonally, to make a total of 8 triangles.

Place triangles on baking sheet (lined with parchment paper or sil-pat, if you have it). Bake 15 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool before serving.

Lemon Scones: Add 1 large lemon to your shopping list. Add 1 Tbs. finely grated lemon zest to the dry ingredients before adding the cream. After the scones have cooled, mix enough fresh, strained lemon juice to 3/4 c. powdered sugar to create a fairly thin glaze. Using the tines of a fork, drizzle the glaze over the cooled scones.

Cherry - Chocolate Chip Scones: Add 3/4 c. chopped dried cherries and 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips to the dry ingredients. Add 1/2 tsp. almond extract to the cream. Proceed as directed.

Raspberry Scones: Add one cup frozen raspberries (do not thaw, but chop relatively small) to the flour mixture. Add 1 tsp. vanilla to the cream. Proceed as directed, sprinkling a single Tbs. of sugar over the scones before baking and increase baking time to 20 minutes. Note, that the dough will be cold and wet and will turn a little pink ... that's o.k. They're delicious.


Guess what? I got the cover for the third Mystery a la Mode, "A Parfait Murder," which is due out in June. Isn't it yummy?

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  1. I love scones, but for some reason I thought making them would be really complicated. The basic recipe looks simple though and the tweaks sound delish! Thanks for sharing this, Wendy!

  2. And...I LOVE your cover! Not just perfect, it's parfait! Can't wait to read it. :)

  3. I love your new cover. I can't wait to read it. As I was reading the post, my first thought was to add chocolate chips. I'll have to try this easy recipe.

  4. Sweet post, Wendy. A foolproof recipe and fun variations, too. Your new cover is so gorgeous it should be edible. Cheers and have a delicious weekend.

    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  5. This is great! An easy scone recipe. Can't wait to give it a try and play with flavors. The pictures you posted make me want to make this today.

    Wonderful cover, Wendy! Wow. Just gorgeous!

  6. Wendy, your cover is delicious! And so's the recipe. Thanks for being part of our group.


  7. I've gone the frozen, shredded butter route and this looks so much easier. Also, not having to plan ahead and freeze the butter is a big plus. I have some dried raspberries and white chocolate chips in the pantry and I think I'll try them in this recipe.

    Love the book cover and can't wait to read it!

  8. Oh - dried raspberries and white chocolate would be *killer* - I'd definitely suggest adding a little vanilla or almond extract to the cream with that.

    Thanks for the kind words about the cover, folks -- I had such a great time writing this book. It's a lot of fun, and I'm glad I got a cover as festive as the story. :)

  9. I am such a pushover for scones. They're my secret treat! And these look mouth-watering. As does your new cover!

  10. Yummy! That recipe heads straight for my save file. Thanks so much.

  11. Wendy, I am so going to make these! This weekend! Now if I could only get my hands on clotted cream, LOL.

  12. Wow! What a great recipe, Wendy! Thanks. And the cover is gorgeous!!!

  13. I love to bake and I adore scones. But, I've never tried to bake them. I guess I've always just assumed they were too hard. too complicated. And over my head. Well - by golly, you've convinced me to give 'em a try. Thanks much!

  14. Wendy, I love your new cover. Just looking at it makes me yearn for summer!

    Fabulous recipe. I love recipes that are versatile like this one.

    ~ Krista

  15. I've never understood the reputation scones have for being hard to make. Nothing could be easier! My own basic recipe is a little different than yours, Wendy, but when it comes to variations, the sky's the limit. I've even made banana chocolate chip ones! My favorites are plain, cheddar-caraway (savory), and cranberry-orange (sweet). And if I start now, I can be eating a hot scone in about a half hour....!

  16. You had me at "banana." Did you mush that banana first? Tell all.

    And I love savory scones. I've done cheese scones, including rosemary/parm, but I love the idea of caraway. Never would have thought of that.

    I need to think of something to pair with fennel seeds ... I'm on a fennel kick. Maybe fennel and fig?

  17. I love scones too! Thanks for this excellent recipe. The new cover is tasty as well.

  18. Yum. I got a scone pan for Christmas last year, but my recipe involves cutting the butter into the dough (the box grater doesn't sound too bad). Although my recipe has equal parts rolled oats and flour, which is a nice touch. These I'll have to try. I like mixing in blackberries. Mmm, if it weren't already late I'd make some tonight! Btw, I'm finally picking up Scoop to Kill this weekend--almost done. Thanks for the fun break from "serious" books!

  19. Yes, I mashed the banana first, and then decreased the amount of cream to compensate, until the dough had the proper consistency. Rosemary-parm--now, I have to try that. I LOVE rosemary. Not so crazy about fennel, so I can't think what would complement it, but the mild sweetness of figs sounds like a good choice.

    Mmmm, blackberry oat scones--those sound so deliciously Peter Rabbit!

    And Wendy - I've been craving ice cream since I first got a glimpse of your new cover.