Snow day Scones

Today I made scones for the first time. Due to an unexpected snow day, I suddenly found myself with the time to try something new.

At first, I wanted to make a Lemon Poppyseed Bread recipe I found on Cookie Madness. Alas, the recipe calls for 3 different types of flour, and lemon zest. Here’s where the “budget” part of my blog’s title comes in: I don’t make any baked goods that have ingredients I can’t use more than once. Oat flour? Sorry, but I just can’t justify the cost, and I don’t think they sell that at Shaw’s. Lemon zest? I don’t have a zester or even a veggie peeler here at school.

So instead I looked around the website and found a recipe for Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Scones. I’ve always wanted to try making scones, and I already owned all of the necessary ingredients.

Ingredients for sour cream chocolate chip scones. I grabbed black pepper instead of salt. Luckily, I realized my mistake right after I took the picture.

First, I put the dry ingredients together in a bowl, then whisked the sour cream, egg and vanilla in a separate bowl. Here’s a tip if you’re not the best egg cracker: crack the egg in a separate bowl or cup before including with other ingredients. It’s easier to fish out shell pieces this way if there are any.

Cracking eggs in a separate bowl makes fishing out shell pieces easier.

The next step was to cut one stick of very cold butter “into bits.” This recipe didn’t specify any more than that, and having never made scones before, I wasn’t quite sure what that meant. So I found this recipe from the queen herself, Martha Stewart, which suggested the pieces be no bigger than pea-sized.

The recipe calls for one stick of butter chopped into tiny cubes.

I then had to mix the butter together with the flour mixture until the whole thing was “very coarse.” I also found this instruction to be vague, but this time had no help from Martha. After spending more time than I probably should have kneading the flour mixture and butter together by hand, I added in the wet ingredients and hoped for the best. After the dough came together, I set it onto clean counter space and squished it down to an approximate 7 inch circle like the recipe called for.

At this point, the dough still looked like one big, uncooked chocolate chip cookie.

My scone dough was very, very sticky. It stuck to my knife when I tried to cut it into triangles, and it stuck to the counter when I tried to lift the triangles off. No recipe I’d seen said anything about scone dough being sticky. I’m still not sure if my dough was the correct consistency.

I tried to shape the dough into triangles as best I could.

I popped my two trays of scones into the oven, set the timer and waited nervously. Did I leave enough space for the dough to expand? Will the scones be fluffy like they’re supposed to be, or dense? Will they be too dry? Fifteen minutes later, my scones were ready and they looked (basically) like the picture from the blog.

The final product. Not bad for a first try!

After splitting one with my roommate, I had my answer:  They tasted like scones! Though I couldn’t taste the sour cream as much as I had expected to, it definitely gave the scones a bit of a kick, which complemented the sweetness of the chocolate chips.

Re-reading the Cookie Madness recipe, I learned that the sour cream was mostly there to keep the outside crisp but the inside soft. It definitely worked.

I was still puzzled as to why I had to keep the butter so cold and cut it into such small pieces. After a quick Google search I found this article, “How to Make the Perfect Scone.” It turns out butter should stay solid in the flour mixture so it will melt in the oven and “create pockets and layers” in the scone. In addition to information on keeping ingredients cold, that article has a number of tips on how to bake the best possible scones.

I’m not sure if my scones reached “Perfect Scone” status, but for a first try on a budget, I’m pleased with the results.

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