Here’s my confession . . . I am not a baker. I do not have the patience to mess with all those fancy little embellishments on itty-bitty cookies, cupcakes or the like. Nor am I ever inclined to perfect my macaron (in fact, I’ve never even attempted to make one, let alone perfect my skill); I leave that to the many talented professionals – and there are so many out there – check here, here and here for starters. These folks eat, sleep and live for that kind of detail work. Me? Give me heft. Give me something I can scoop, roll, slice or plop. Set it and forget it. That I can do.
I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve tried to make any type of scone – oh yes, they masqueraded as a scones, but then something along the lines of a dry, hard hockey puck showed up. Honestly, I couldn’t understand why everyone was so gaga over scones; I mean really, pass me the jam so I can get these suckers down . . . oh, and make sure that you have a third party who knows the Heimlich maneuver standing by . . . ‘cuz you just never know . . .
So yes, I was a bit skeptical when I came across this recipe; at first glance I didn’t get too excited because I found all the usual cast of characters (ingredients): flour, sugar, butter, salt, baking power, baking soda, etc. And I will admit to being more than a bit annoyed with the extra steps to ensure all components were ice cold or frozen. But that last sentence? Go back and re-read that last sentence because, that is your golden key to the scone kingdom – yes, my awesome friends, scones are all about the method! Master the method and you’ve mastered the scone! In fact, I have been so successful in my scone-making abilities these days, I decided to teach my friend Audrey, who is a brand new cook, the art of scone making. And you know what? She was successful too – and she’d never made a scone in her life!! How cool is that? By the way, Audrey is a very talented writer who loves movies and has a blog called, Born for Geekdom – head over there and take a peek!
I say – scones for everyone!
Cooks Illustrated, Spring Entertaining April 2010
NOTE: It is important to work the dough as little as possible-work quickly and knead and fold the dough only the number of times called for. The butter should be frozen solid before grating. In hot or humid environments, chill the flour mixture and bowls before use. While the recipe calls for 2 whole sticks of butter, only 10 tablespoons are actually used (sec step 1). If fresh berries are unavailable, an equal amount of frozen berries (do not defrost) can be substituted. An equal amount of raspberries, blackberries, or strawberries can be used in place of the blueberries. Cut larger berries into 1/4″- to 1/2″-inch pieces before incorporating. Refrigerate or freeze leftover scones, wrapped in foil, in an airtight container. To serve, remove foil and place scones on a baking sheet in a 375-degree oven. Heat until warmed through and re-crisped, 8 to 10 minutes if refrigerated, 16 to 20 minutes frozen.
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) butter, frozen whole (see note)
1-1/2 cups (about 7.5 ounces) fresh blueberries, picked over (see note)
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional for work surface
1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) sugar, plus I tablespoon for sprinkling
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
teaspoon finely grated zest from 1 lemon
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Remove half of wrapper from each stick of frozen butter; grate unwrapped ends on large holes of box grater (you should grate 8 tablespoons total). Place grated butter in freezer until needed. Melt 2 tablespoons of remaining ungrated butter and set aside. Save remaining 6 tablespoons butter for another use. Place blueberries in freezer until needed.
2. Whisk together milk and sour cream in medium bowl; refrigerate until needed. Whisk flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest in medium bowl. Add frozen butter to flour mixture and toss with fingers until thoroughly coated.
3. Add milk mixture to flour mixture; fold with spatula until just combined. With rubber spatula, transfer dough to liberally-floured work surface. Dust surface of dough with flour; with floured hands, knead dough 6 to 8 times until it just holds together in ragged ball, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking.
4. Roll dough into approximate 12-inch square. Fold dough into thirds like a business letter, using bench scraper or metal spatula to release dough if it sticks to work surface. Lift short ends of dough and fold into thirds again to form approximate 4-inch square. Transfer dough to plate lightly dusted with flour and chill in freezer 5 minutes.
5. Transfer dough to floured work surface and roll into approximate 12-inch square again. Sprinkle blueberries evenly over surface of dough, then press down so they are slightly embedded in dough. Using bench scraper or thin metal spatula, loosen dough from work surface. Roll dough, pressing to form tight log. Lay seam side down and press log into 12 by 4-inch rectangle. Using sharp, floured knife, cut rectangle crosswise into 4 equal rectangles. Cut each rectangle diagonally to form 2 triangles and transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet.
6. Brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon sugar. Bake until tops and bottoms are golden brown, 18 to 25 minutes. Transfer scones to wire rack and let cool 10 minutes before serving.
SMITH BITES NOTES: I keep a tub of flour and a pound of butter in my freezer specifically for making scones so when the mood strikes (which is often), I’m ready! I’ve also used both fresh and frozen fruit and I prefer frozen – again keeping the ingredients as cold as possible will produce the best product. If you’re an experienced baker and have a food processor, by all means use it to grate your butter instead of the box grater – grating the butter was my key to making light, fluffy, moist scones so don’t skip this step!! In my opinion, you can cut more than 8 scones from this recipe – 8 pieces end up being a tad big for me as I usually have some sort of egg dish too – but feel free to make them as large or small as you’d like. I also use raw sugar (turbinado) to sprinkle on top – I love the added texture it gives the scones. And finally, I make a batch, cut my triangles, bake 2 scones for us to enjoy immediately, but put the rest of the uncooked triangles on a cookie sheet and freeze; once completely frozen, I place them in a container and store in the freezer for future bakings. This allows me to always have scones on hand to bake off either on a weekend or even during the weekdays if I want a treat. Starting with a frozen scone increases your baking time by about 10-15 minutes or so depending on the size of your scones and your oven; start checking at the additional 10 minute mark and go from there. If the scones start to darken before they’re finished baking, simply lay a piece of foil loosely over the tops until your scone is baked through.
OMG looks SO good!
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How cute is this video?! And for the record, I LOVE scones. Great job!
You have no idea what this post means to me. I have been a secret sconaphibic. Always wanting to make them because they just look and taste so luscious! But secretly? I’ve been petrified at the thought of them. OK. Petrified is kind of an exaggeration, but you get the idea. Your post has breathed new life into my cooking adventures. I’m going to take a trip to Costco, buy some blueberries, and make a vegan version of this recipe. Thanks for the courage to do this…and wish me luck!
These look perfect!
Your site is just amazing!
I love the clean look of it and your header too!!
Very fun video and some great scone ideas. Ours are usually more like Kim’s. This would be the fancy version! 🙂
I always felt the same way about scones- dry and hard to choke down. But honestly, these look really really good. And if you say they’re good I believe you 😉 I might just have to give them a try (when it’s not 100 degrees out…)
I’ve found that the one thing about European life that doesn’t suit me is my distaste for pastries. I like a nice doughnut from time to time, but otherwise I’m not a girl who craves sweets in the morning.
Yours look absolutely beautiful–while I cannot honestly say I’m aching to try these (I’m only a savory baker, and limited at that!), you took some gorgeous photos of a lovely final product!
Grating the butter, eh? Fascinating! For some reason, scones are my one trick as a baker. I don’t know why they work out for me, while hardly any other baked good ever does!
Can you believe that I never made scone…and love your step by step pictures…they look so tasty, have to try to make them soon 🙂
I must say, I LOVE this post! It was great seeing the step-by-step, and even more fun seeing you in a video. You exist, you’re real!!
These scones are a knock-out – I’ve never made scones with this method, but I think I’m going to have to give it a try. Wonderful, wonderful!
After IFBC this weekend, soooo can’t wait to meet you at BlogHer in October!
Yes, Jenny – I’m real – LOL! And thank you so much for your compliments – YOU are the baker and I am NOT a baker but these turn out so am happy with the recipe. Can’t wait to meet you at BlogHer Food in October!
I’ve never made a macaron either. (But I’m going to try this winter!)
But scones, ah yes. I love ’em! Yours turned out beautifully….you ARE a baker!
I am leaving the Macarons to you my dear, Barbara
For not considering yourself a baker, these scones look amazing! Yum!
Thank You Tracy – you are the one who truly bakes!
As a baker, it makes me so happy when people find a recipe that they can make and enjoy. I love it that you were able to conquer the scone making obstacle (they can be buggers, I know!) Cooks Illustrated always does a great job, and by the looks of these beauties, they didn’t miss the mark here!
Cooks Illustrated is a great teaching tool!
You have motivated me to give scone making a try. Love the method you demonstrate, love the video. I particularly appreciate your instructions on baking some and freezing some for later. I’m an empty nester and cook for two most of the time, so that makes this recipe and method perfect for me. I also like to freeze ahead for when we have overnight guests. I can have them in my freezer for a quick, freshly baked breakfast for my guests. Love this idea!
Monica ~ We don’t have children in the home either so freezing is really nice; make a batch, enjoy one and then to be able to put the rest in the freezer is a real plus.
I do love a good scone! Yours look very authentic and delicious. I enjoy Cooks Illustrated and always take away a tip or two. I bet they were tasty, huh? 🙂
They were the best Lisa!
I loved reading this post & chuckled away as I watched your video. I must admit despite my complete and life long love affair with food & cooking…. baking is another thing entirely; baking isn’t anywhere near as forgiving & accepting of my creative brain that does suffer recipe OCD at times with … ‘wonder what it’d taste like if I just added this’.., baking is a science & I take my little chef hat off to the bakers out there whom I’m in awe of who turn out delectable cakes.. but… you make these scones look great.., go you!!!
I know exactly where you’re coming from Anna – baking IS science and I’m much more prone to adding a little here, a little there . . . I’m in awe of true bakers!
Yay for scones! Also, I’m a huge fan of Cooks Illustrated. 🙂 They’ve taught me a lot over the years. And – Mr. RGBistro is going to love me or hate me now because I’m going to make a huge batch, cook two, and freeze the rest for “unidentified future use.” And I’m going to blame you for the idea.
I’m also jealous because your scones are so much more sophisticated than mine (which are 1) dump together, 2) combine, and 3) plop on a sheet).
Have a great week!
I’ll make a wager that Mr. RGBistro is gonna love you!! And he’ll be thanking me!
I just recently made my favorite scones…mostly because they are no longer available at my favorite coffee shop…and I’m hooked. If I had known that homemade were that much better…would have done it long ago.
I love that you recommend frozen fruit which is good to know for the winter when those monster bags of frozen blueberries from Costco need some uses; this is now on the list!
Barb ~ Was thinking about you when I made these ‘cuz I know you favor the maple ones from Starbucks (what they used to have anyway); these are so moist & delicious – give them a try!
Ok, this is awesome! I have a few scone recipes I really like but I’m intrigued by this new method and definitely want to give it a try with one of my recipes for a taste comparison.
Katie ~ I would love for you to do a comparison and let me know what you think! This is the only scone recipe I’ve been able to make work but am always interested to see what others do!
I love scones! These look so delicious, I know I will have to be trying these out soon! Since we are tea lovers at our house, a good scone is always appreciated. 🙂
Megan, these are perfect w/tea – you must try them!
I absolutely adore the video! I want to be in a video with you! Fabulous! And wow this is definitely a recipe that I am going to make! I love your method and love the fresh fruit roll-up scones!
Thank you so much Jamie! And ANY time you’re in my neck of the woods, I’d be honored to have you in my kitchen!
This is an amazing video – adorable and approachable! I never thought of grating the butter before – that is genius!
Thank you Michelle ~ that means a lot coming from you!
Oh how fun!!! Can I come over and you show me how?
Amy ~ ANYTIME! Would love to have you in my kitchen – not sure we’d ever get anything actually made but we’d sure have a lot of fun!
Love the video! Now I am craving scones. Great tips!
Thank you Maria – you can make these in your new kitchen!
Love this, love it, love it!! What a great post and video and gorgeous scones!
Thank you Kristen ~ it was so much fun to work with Audrey! And the scones are to die for!
Scones are one of my all time favorite treats and you want to know something, I love to bake and I have yet to make them. You just gave me a kick in the pants 🙂 Thanks love.
Red ~ you must, must, must bake these for your man and the monkeys – they will love you forever and never leave your side!
Ahahaha! I LOVED this, and folks, the quotes are ALL true. Bake with Debra and you won’t believe the things that will come pouring out…
Audrey – it was the best day! We want you to come back soon and try another recipe!
I loved this post– I’ve always been skeptical about scones and scone-making myself, and this was so funny and encouraging (and the pictures so lovely) that it made me want to try them again!
The next time you’re here Avery, we will try these out – you will LOVE THEM!
Great job! I keep 10 lb of butter in my freezer too… Mostly for hoarding reasons. Blame it on the Soviet rationing.
Scones are all in the method & your scones look pretty sweet. And I agree scones for everyone! 🙂
Scones for everyone indeed!
Love scones and these look delicious! The video is brilliant.
Thank you Nancy – it was just so much fun – lots of work, but lots of fun too!
These scones look amazing and great information!
Thanks so much Alison!