Sunday, December 13, 2009

Classic Cream Scones

This is another frequently shared recipe -- it's fast, foolproof, and can go from sweet to savory, depending on what you choose to stir in. Because the cream serves as both the liquid and the fat, you don't need to cut in butter and it uses no eggs. A very good recipe to try if you are new to baking.

Classic Cream Scones

Preheat oven to 425ºF. Have a large un-greased baking sheet ready.

Whisk together in a large bowl:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup dried raisins or cranberries

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

Stir in:

1 1/4 cup heavy cream (NOT non-dairy creamer)

Mix with a spatula or spoon just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Form the dough into a ball and knead it gently in the bowl about 10 times, until loose pieces are worked in.

Transfer to a lightly floured surface and pat the dough into an 8-inch (20 cm) round about 3/4 inch (2 cm) thick. Cut into 8 or 12 wedges and place on baking sheet, not too close together.

Brush tops with:

2 to 3 teaspoons cream or milk

Sprinkle with:

Cinnamon and sugar, if desired

Bake until the tops are golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on a rack or serve warm.

Tips and buying info:

Fresh cream is very hard to find here, but there are some decent UHT versions. Check the labels carefully -- cream, milk solids, and maybe one thickener means it will taste fairly cream-like. Too many other stabilisers or enhancers and it will begin to taste odd. (Liquid whipped-topping mix is oil-based and won't work for this recipe at all.) I prefer President over Anchor, and also really like the Breton cream at Costco -- good flavor, good price.

For savory biscuits, reduce the sugar by half and stir in whatever you'd like: grated cheese, bits of cooked ham or bacon, green onions, etc. With half sugar and no stir-ins, these make nice biscuits to serve with soup or stew. For variations on the sweet version, try bits of candied ginger with orange zest, dried blueberries with lemon, or dried cherries and slivered almonds. You really can't go wrong, just keep the proportions about the same.

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