Monday, April 29, 2013

How to make good scones: Whole wheat scones from King Arthur Flour

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Whole wheat scones with the mix-ins I happened to have on hand: dried figs, pistachios, chocolate chips

Thanks to King Arthur Flour, I can now make scones I'm actually willing to eat.

Until last week I never understood why people like scones. Scones are tough. Crumbly. So dry they're hard to get down, even when they're slathered with butter or jam.

Aren't they?

Turns out I'd never had a good scone.

Well, now I have. Thanks to the wonderful baking instructors at the King Arthur Flour Baking Education Center in Norwich, Vermont, I even know how to make good scones. And I'm going to do my best to teach you.

There are a few secrets to making light, moist scones:

1. Use the right amount of flour. If you weigh your ingredients for baking, you're okay here. But those of us who measure flour by volume usually end up adding too much flour (guilty!). A cup of flour should weigh 4.25 ounces. If you don't have a scale, use the fluff-sprinkle-level method demonstrated in the video below.



2. Keep the butter cold. I like rubbing in the butter with my fingers, but I have hot hands (all the time). You want the butter to stay cold when you cut it into the dry ingredients so it creates little pockets of steam as it bakes, keeping the scones light. Use a pastry blender, two knives, or quick bursts in a food processor. If you like flaky scones, stop when the biggest pieces of butter are the size of large peas. If you prefer cake-like scones, keep cutting in the butter until the dry ingredients look like wet sand.

3. Don't work the dough too much. Add your liquid, mix briefly, turn the dough out onto your work surface when it's shaggy and rough, then pat it quickly into a round with your hands. It will not look smooth. That's fine.

With these tips, I've now produced three batches of light, flaky, whole wheat scones, all made with King Arthur's white whole wheat flour. A whole-grain flour made from hard white spring wheat, it's lighter in color and more finely milled than traditional whole wheat flour, and it's my favorite flour for whole-grain baking.

The add-ins are up to you. At King Arthur I added dried apricots, crystallized ginger and chocolate chips. The batch pictured above has dried Calimyrna figs (rehydrated with a little Meyer lemon juice and zest), pistachios, and dark chocolate chips, because that's what I had in the pantry. You can use fresh fruit, but you'll want to cut down on the buttermilk a little to account for the extra moisture.

With these tips and the recipe below, you'll be able to make great scones too. What do you like in your scones? Leave a comment and share your favorite scone add-ins!

Note: I attended the 2013 King Arthur Flour Blog & Bake at the King Arthur Flour Baking Education Center as a very grateful guest of King Arthur Flour.




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Whole wheat scones from King Arthur Flour
Measure your flour carefully and use a light touch to turn out perfectly flaky scones every time.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) King Arthur unbleached white whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tablespoons (7/8 ounce) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (cut to 1/8 teaspoon if using salted butter)
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces, 1 stick) butter, chilled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried fruits, nuts, chips (use any combination you like)
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) buttermilk
  • 1 egg, separated
  • approximately 2 teaspoons coarse sugar (raw or white)
Instructions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt (if using) in a large bowl.Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives, then stir in the dried fruit and/or other additions.Whisk together the buttermilk and egg yolk and stir into the dry mixture until a soft dough forms. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly for just a few turns. Pat the dough into a flat disk about 7 inches across and cut it into wedges.Transfer the disk to a parchment-lined baking sheet. For crispier scones, separate the wedges; for softer, higher-rising scones, leave them in the circle.Brush the tops of the scones with beaten egg white and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake the scones for 18-25 minutes, until they're light golden brown. Do not overbake.Cool the scones on the baking sheet on a rack. Eat within one day for best results (scones go stale fast).
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8 large scones

5 comments:

Jennifer | Bake or Break said...

Those scones are great, aren't they? I made a batch this weekend, too.

Jennifer Che said...

Great tips! I like how you distilled down the key "secrets" to a good scone. I really enjoyed munching on those scones even days after they were made.

It was great meeting you at Blog & Bake!

Erika Kerekes said...

@Jennifers - I have already made two batches (the second with cinnamon and chocolate chips) and my family thinks I'm a genius. :)

It was great meeting both of you too!

Kim said...

My favorite add-ons are lemon zest and blueberries. Or cranberries. :)

Your tips are almost identical my post on "How to Make the Best Flaky Biscuits." Technique is KEY.

Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

[K]

Eva Kosmas said...

I love the additions to your scones! Pistachios and chocolate taste soooo good together. So glad we got to meet and get to know each other at KAF :)

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