Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lemon Ginger Scones

When I visited London, some of my most relaxed moments were caught in a coffee shop or tea room. Between the countless museums, monuments and gardens, these quiet moments offered a bit of calm to the whirlwind of sightseeing. And these moments were often accompanied by a tea and scone served with clotted cream.

I have yet to try my hand at clotted cream, but I have tried many a scone recipe. After playing around with different flours, different quantities of flour, butter and baking powder, trying buttermilk or heavy cream, and trying doughs with or without egg, I think I have finally developed a recipe for my perfect scone...though your tastes may differ.

The recipe is my own, but I did refer to Epicurious, The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, and for guidance.

Yields 18 two inch circular scones, or 16 wedge-shaped scones

The Ingredients:

1 cup all purpose or pastry flour
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp crystallized ginger
1 Tbsp finely diced fresh ginger
zest of one lemon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2/3 cup buttermilk + extra for brushing

for the glaze
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 Tbsp lemon juice

The Process:
Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 400.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade (or by hand in a in medium bowl using a whisk), combine the flours, sugar, and baking powder and baking soda, and pulse or mix to incorporate. Add the lemon zest, crystallized ginger, fresh ginger and butter, and pulse on and off (or blend by hand using the tines of two forks or a pastry cutter), until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl (if using the food processor--if mixing by hand continue to use the same bowl). Make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk. Using one hand, draw in the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. DO NOT over blend.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently gather it into a ball.

To form circular scones, roll or pat the dough into a circle about 3/4 inch thick. Cut out the circles, cutting as closely together as possible and keeping the trimmings intact. Gather the scraps, pat and press the pieces back together, and cut out the remaining dough. Place the scones 1 inch apart on a baking sheet or baking stone.

To form wedges, divide the dough into two balls. Pat the first into a circle 3/4 inch thick and about 8 inched across. Cut in half, and cut each half into 4 wedges. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Place the scones 1 inch apart on a baking sheet or baking stone.

Brush the tops with the remaining buttermilk and sprinkle with a dusting of sugar.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the surface cracks and they are slightly browned.

Remove to a wire rack to cool. Prepare the lemon glaze by whisking together 1/2 cup confectioners sugar, 1 Tbsp lemon juice and 2 Tbsp melted butter. Pour glaze into a piping bag or ziploc bag. When the scones are completely cool, snip a corner off of the glaze bag drizzle over the scones.

The Review:

Definitely my favorite scone recipe to date...and now that I have the basic down I'm chomping at the bit to try a few other flavor cardamon comes first to my mind. The crumb was moist and tender, with just enough crust. I'm fond of the texture whole wheat flour adds to most bakes goods, but these recipe can easily be altered to use all pastry or all purpose flours for those who enjoy a more refined texture. The ginger and lemon flavoring was subtle and refreshing. The glaze truly sealed the deal, though, adding just a bit more tartness and a buttery finish. These disappeared far quicker than the shamrock sugar cookies.

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