The berry scones thing happened when I stumbled upon this blackberry scone recipe. I’m not even sure what I was searching for that day — certainly not a scone recipe, seeing as scones weren’t really my thing at the time. Maybe I was just perusing the web in search of inspiration. Long story short, when I clicked on the above post, and saw the photograph of the sugar crusted scones bursting with blackberries, my interest was piqued. I have a bit of a blackberry thing, maybe that’s why. So I made the berry scones once and thought they were pretty insane. I then proceeded to make them about a billion times (I’m a creature of habit after all — when I find a good thing, I have trouble letting it go). I made them for basically anyone and everyone who walked through my door (this is easier than it sounds if you’re partial to freezing pre-baked goodies, as I am wont to do). After making, freezing and baking batch a-billion-and-one, however, it occurred to me that maybe I should develop my own scone recipe (not a bad thing to have in one’s repertoire).When I develop a recipe inspired by another’s (in case anyone is curious), I begin by thinking about what I want to change about the ingredients and technique, and what I want to keep the same. The inspirational blackberry scone recipe includes two sticks of butter, and I knew I didn’t want to mess with that, but making biscuits with self-rising flour (all purpose flour with baking powder and salt already added) was already on my to-do-list, in light of my fondness for these biscuits, and I figured berry scones with said flour might be nice, too. A little internet research (i.e., a New York Times scones recipe and The Guardian’s guide to scones) revealed that the combo of self-rising flour plus additional leavening produces a scone with real lift. I was on board with lift, so with my fat and my flour figured out, I turned to the question of liquid. The recipe that got me all scone-crazy in the first place called for buttermilk, but i thought creme fraiche would be mighty tasty, producing a bit of tang, plus tenderness (full disclosure: i did end up whisking in some heavy cream along with the creme fraiche to loosen it up just a bit).And I added just the tiniest bit more liquid than is called for in the original recipe. As for technique, although tempted to fraisage the scone dough à la Rose Levy Berenbaum (page 359), and as I do in my off the charts flaky pie dough recipe, I decided to use my fingers to incorporate the butter into the flour instead. But I used frozen butter, rather than very cold, to compensate for the warmth of my hands (yes, this takes a bit of muscle, but not SO much that you’ll be mad at me for it). I also manhandled the dough a bit to aid it in coming together (very bad etiquette for most scone doughs, but trust me: this one can handle it). Finally,I must say I found this scones recipe extremely helpful during the development process, as its “ten basic scone formulas” was super informative and directed me to several books (already on my shelves) with interesting scone recipes, as well as a myriad of worth-while scone-related posts on the internet. So, here is my recipe for an uber-buttery scone with tons of “lift,” a bit of a tang, a deliciously crusty exterior and the most perfect, not too cakey/not too dry/crumbly crumb. And here’s to hoping you’ll bake them about a billion times.
- 2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup creme fraiche
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 3 1/2 cups self-rising flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 sticks unsalted butter frozen
- 1 generous cup berries of your choosing frozen
- Sugar in the raw for decorating
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp heavy cream
- In a small bowl, whisk together the vanilla, crème fraîche and cream and place in the refrigerator.
- Whisk the flour, soda and sugar together in a large bowl and set aside. Cut the butter into cubes or thin slices. Add the butter to the flour mixture and toss with your hands to cover all the butter with flour. then begin rubbing the butter between your fingers and into the flour, until all the butter is pea-sized, or smaller.
- Make a well in the center of the butter/flour mixture and add the chilled crème fraîche mixture. Using a rubber spatula, incorporate the liquid into the dough. the dough should be lumpy, with bits of butter and a little loose flour. Add the frozen fruit, mix, and place the dough in the refrigerator overnight (this is optional, but encouraged).
- After the overnight rest, use your hands to smoosh the dry bits of dough into the wetter ones in an effort to bring the dough together into a single large mass.
- Dip a small high-sided biscuit cutter (about 2.5 by 1.5-inches) in flour (to make scone removal less sticky) and press a puck's worth of dough into the cutter. Using your fingers, push/slide the dough shape from the cookie cutter on to a parchment-lined baking sheet. If the dough pucks are flaky and dry, with pockets of butter throughout, you're on the right track. After forming all the scones, place the tray in the freezer until the scones are frozen solid, about two hours or — preferably — overnight. Again, this is optional, but it helps the scones hold their shape.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine the egg and heavy cream together in a small ramekin, and brush the tops of the scones with the wash. Sprinkle sugar in the raw on top of the scones and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. The scones are done when the bottoms have browned, the tops are crackly and the sprinkled sugar looks caramelized. If your scones are frozen, they will bake for closer to 20 minutes, but watch them carefully to avoid overbaking.
- Let the scones cool only slightly before serving.