Light and Tender Cream Scones
A good scone is light, tender and buttery — almost biscuit like. So why is it so hard to come by? After many trials, I finally found the answer and it all boils down to one simple ingredient. Cake flour. I’ve got two recipes for you: this traditional one, which is delicious slathered with butter and jam, and a kid-friendly chocolate chip version coming next week.
So, why cake flour? Cake flour is a fine-textured, low protein flour made from soft winter wheat. Less gluten forms when you mix it into the batter, which results in scones with a very fine, fluffy crumb.
You can make these scones in a food processor or by hand. It doesn’t really matter…just be sure your butter is very cold and try to work quickly. Today I’m using my machine; next week for the chocolate chip version, I’ll show you how to make them by hand.
To begin, combine the dry ingredients in the bowl of your food processor and pulse until well combined.
Next, “cut” the cold butter into the dry ingredients by pulsing several times until the mixture has the consistency of very coarse crumbs. Be careful not to over-mix. All those little pea-size clumps of butter create structure in the scones and give them a tender, fluffy consistency when baked.
Add most of the heavy cream and an egg.
Pulse until the dough comes together in clumps. It should be a bit sticky. If it seems dry, add the remaining cream.
Dust a work surface with flour, then dump the sticky dough on top.
If necessary, sprinkle more flour, little by little, until the dough is just dry enough to gather into a ball, then press it into a flat circle about 3/4-inch high. Be careful not to overwork the dough; you want to handle it as little as possible.
Cut it into 8 wedges, then transfer the wedges to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Brush the unbaked scones with egg, then sprinkle with demerara sugar (this is just raw sugar, or the stuff in the brown packets at Starbucks). This gives the scones a nice golden color and sparkly, slightly crunchy top.
Bake for about 10 minutes, until lightly golden and firm to the touch.
Enjoy the scones fresh out of the oven with butter or softly whipped cream and jam.
Light and Tender Cream Scones
Makes 8 scones
2 cups cake flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled off with knife
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large egg
2/3 – 3/4 cup heavy cream (do not substitute milk or light cream)
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon demerara sugar (also called raw sugar or turbinado)
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Combine the cake flour, salt, baking powder and sugar in the bowl of food processor fitted with metal blade. Pulse several times to combine.
3. Add the cold butter and pulse quickly until mixture resembles course meal with pea-size clumps of butter within.
4. Add egg and 2/3 cup of heavy cream and pulse just until mixture comes together in clumps. The dough should be a bit sticky. If it seems dry, add remaining 2 tablespoons heavy cream and pulse quickly again until just combined.
5. Dust a work surface lightly with flour, then dump scone dough onto surface. Knead very gently a few times until dough comes together into a ball. (Sprinkle more flour, little by little, if dough is too sticky to work with.) Press dough into a flat circle about 3/4-inch high, then use a sharp knife to cut into 8 triangles. Transfer wedges to prepared baking sheet. Brush lightly with beaten egg and sprinkle with demerara sugar. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until tops are lightly golden and firm to the touch. Serve warm with butter or softly whipped cream and jam.
*Scones are best served fresh out of the oven or on the same day, reheated in a toaster oven.