Pretty Dishes

The Great Scone Hunt: Attempts #1, #2, and (sort of) #3
February 27, 2010, 12:05 am
Filed under: Scone Hunt

Before I approached the scone testing, I did a fair amount of research into what makes for an excellent scone. I read recipe after recipe trying to nail down the common ingredients and what made the variations stand apart. Once I felt like I had a good starting point, I dove in and started baking.

My first attempt was decent. It was a learning experience, specifically for what to expect of the dough, the length of baking (and scone hue), and such. I had selected a heavy cream scone recipe because the tea room scones had a soft, almost cakelike quality, and I was looking to replicate that dairy-based creaminess. I therefore avoided scones that had similar ingredient ratios as biscuits.

The heavy cream scones were pretty good (mine looked nearly identical to those pictured), but not quite right, and not close enough to bother pursuing further with modifications. One down.

A couple of weeks later, I tested a recipe that featured sour cream as the dairy ingredient. I had heard several times that sour cream lends an excellent moistness to baked goods. I felt a little more comfortable handling the dough, and much to my surprise, when I tasted one of the scones, it was very close. The sweetness was off, and there was a hint of an aftertaste, but the results were promising. I wasn’t ready to break out my jars of cream just yet, but I now do believe that the tea room scones contain sour cream or something similar to achieve the consistency I’m after.

I cut them a little too large, but even only making half a recipe, there were way too many for just me. Below is the half recipe I made with a few of my own modifications. (The original recipe is here.)

The Best Scones. Ever. [Note: Not my title.]

1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups of flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 egg [I admit, this was tough. I cracked and lightly beat it, then tried to figure about half.]
1 teaspoon heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, stir the sour cream and baking soda to combine.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut the butter into the flour using a pastry cutter or by pulsing in a food processor until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the sour cream mixture, egg, heavy cream, and vanilla into the flour mixture, and stir until just combined.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface; divide the dough and pat into two thick circles. Cut the circles into four or six wedges, position on a nonstick baking sheet, and bake until the bottoms are golden and the tops are just slightly browned, about 16 minutes.


As for my third attempt, I almost can’t call it a true scone effort: I was pretty sure the results would not be ideal since they were from a mix, not from scratch. I was right. I had received a Harry & David scone mix for Christmas and decided I might as well use it on the off chance that it really was incredibly amazing. (I was pretty skeptical when the mix called for just water to be added rather than milk or additional ingredients.) The scones were fine, but they were very biscuit-like (as can be clearly seen in the photo), so I had a couple and then handed off the rest.

I certainly feel like I’m on the right track with that second attempt, and it’s nice to have hope. I have just finished my fourth batch—report to come in a future post—and yes, I am getting awfully tired of eating scones . . .


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