World’s Best Scones
Since these are not my scones, I can say with authority that they are, without a doubt, the world’s best.
The recipe belongs to the mother of my first love, which, like most first loves, spontaneously combusted sometime during the 10th grade and took another two or three years to fizzle out, leaving nothing but pain, destruction, and little pieces of chewed up internal organs in its path. One good thing to come out of it, though, besides some pretty awesome (and securely hidden away) broken heart poetry written by my 16-year-old self, has been my family’s ongoing friendship with his mother.
And not just because of the scones!
But, since this here thing alleges to be a food blog, I’m going to stick to the scones and leave all related parties out of it. Suffice it to say, I have been coveting these scones – which she usually serves warm filled with big chunks of dark chocolate – since I was 15, and finally asked for the recipe a few years ago. It took me until today, 9 years later, to finally try my hand at them. I bought cream of tartar over a year ago (which is right around the time I realized it wasn’t cream) just for these scones. That’s how good they are. I’d waited this long. Failure was not an option.
Thankfully, even though I don’t have a pastry cutter and thought for sure my sweaty hands would ruin the delicate dough, they turned out just as I remembered: not sweet, dense but flaky and layered, perfect with coffee or tea and, I think, salted butter.
Besides my longstanding plans to try to recreate The Scones, I did have other motivations for today’s unplanned use of the oven.
Since we have no dinner parties to plan for another few days (combined with my being totally incapable of stepping away from the kitchen), I decided to indulge in one of my favorite things: needless baking.
Or, more specifically, baking for breakfast. Since my husband hails from a land where cake is acceptable breakfast food, I usually try to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, and combine dessert (for me) and breakfast (for him) into a single, frosting-coated package.
Also, our beloved, Wyoming-bound neighbors left behind an empty house right next to ours, which was filled over the weekend by – who else? – their other next door neighbors whom we already know and love. So a heartwarming housewarming was very much in order.
The whole purpose of my posts are usually to convince to you make what I’ve just made because it’s soooooo good, how could you not, you’re missing out on the meaning of life, etc., etc. But I feel so confident in the power of the perfect scone – this perfect scone – that I’ll let you take your time with this one, to discover it on your own. As long as you don’t wait 9 years.
Thank you, Karen, for this amazing gift to mankind. I’ve tweaked it a bit but only out of necessity and/or laziness. The recipe makes 8-10 of the best scones you’ll ever eat depending on how you cut them, and can be filled with anything from raisins, to chocolate chunks (a personal favorite), to diced fruit.
2 cups flour
1 – 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick/8 tbl/115 grams) cold butter, cut up into small pieces
¾ cup milk
chopped fruit or dark chocolate chunks (optional)
nutmeg and cinnamon (optional)
Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Make sure all ingredients, especially butter and milk, are very, very cold, straight from the refrigerator.
Start by sifting together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Then, using two knives, or a pastry cutter, cut butter into mixture until the mixture resembles chunky oatmeal. Try not to use your hands. (I didn’t follow this last piece of advice and things turned out ok!)
Add the fruit or whatever flavorings you want. (I added 3 peeled and chopped apples that I’d tossed in 1 tablespoon sugar, but you should try it with dark chocolate chunks.)
Add the milk and mix with a fork until just blended. It will resemble a shaggy mass.
On a very lightly floured surface, quickly knead the dough into a ball shape. If the dough is still quite sticky, add a bit more flour, a tablespoon at a time until it no longer sticks to your hands.
Knead and fold about 8 times, sprinkling with a little cinnamon and nutmeg so the spices are layered in the dough.
Form the dough into a flat-ish circle on your baking sheet; cut into 8-10 pie-shaped pieces, move pieces 2 inches apart; brush tops with 1 beaten egg white, sprinkle with sugar if desired.
Bake 12-18 minutes; cool completely before storing.