Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Scones for Miss Potter

Good Evening, Friends :)
Last night, I attended a meeting of my Fairy-Tale Book Club, a group of awesome, creative people that get together once a month to feast, read and discuss Fairytales from all over the world. This month, our chosen author was Beatrix Potter, of *The Tale of Peter Rabbit* fame. I love this woman. I love her books, I love the fact that she broke the norm, became the best-selling children's author in history, and I love the fact that she was an early pioneer of  nature preservation and pro-farmer legislation (she bought up all the land she could afford around her house to keep it preserved, and then donated it all to England's National Trust upon her death), oh yeah, Beatrix, you ROCK. I could go on and on about how her stories have affected me and stayed with me since childhood, but this is a food blog, so I'll make an attempt to stay on task :)

Aaaaanyway, our food theme for this month, in honor of Miss Potter and the arrival of Spring,was English Garden/Tea Party.  Chamomile Tea, Wine, Punch, Quiche, Soup, Berries, Cream, Green Salad, Chocolates, Cookies, Biscuits, Carrot Cake, and my offering, Cream Scones with (homemade) Blackberry Preserves and (storebought but made in London) Lemon Curd :)

First off, let me give credit where credit is due. This recipe came from the inimitable Deb at Smitten Kitchen, the first food blog I ever read and still one of my absolute favorites. She published it a few years ago under the title *Dreamy Cream Scones* and let me tell you, she wasn't joking. These scone ARE dreamy. They are absolutely everything you would want out of a scone. Fluffy, moist, flaky, light, and just sweet enough :) I'm going to make them again for my family's Easter Brunch in a few weeks, and now that I have a scone recipe that I love, I'll hopefully be hosting some tea parties :)

Cream Scones
(from Deb at Smitten Kitchen, who adapted this recipe from the *America's Test Kitchen Cookbook*)

-2 cups (10 oz.) unbleached, all-purpose flour (preferably a low-protein brand, such as Pillsbury or Gold Medal)
- 1 tbsp. baking powder
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 5 tbsp. chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes (confession: I grabbed salted butter out of the fridge by mistake and didn't notice until it was already mixed into the batter, ooops. Honestly, the scones were delicious anyway. I know I should be a proper foodie and tell you to only use unsalted butter, but really, in this case I think either would be okay)
- 1/2 cup chopped dates/currants/cranberries (the original recipe calls for currants, Deb used diced cranberries, and I used chopped dates because that was all I had on hand. Because the dates I had were sugared I decreased the sugar in the recipe to two tablespoons instead of three. If you use currants or cranberries or if you prefer your scones plain, raise the amount of sugar back up to three tablespoons.)
- 1 cup heavy cream

- Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 425 degrees F
- Place flour, baking powder, sugar and salt into large bowl or work bowl of a food processor fitted with steel blade, whisk together or pulse six times.
-If making by hand, use two knives, a pastry blender or your fingertips and quickly cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few larger butter lumps. Stir in dates (or fruit of choice). If using food processor, remove cover and evenly distribute butter over dry ingredients. Cover and pulse 12 times, each pulse lasting for one second. Add currants and pulse one more time. Transfer dough to large bowl.
- Stir in heavy cream with a rubber spatula until dough begins to form, about 30 seconds.

 - Transfer dough and all dry, floury bits to countertop or dough board and knead dough by hand just until comes together into a rough, sticky ball, about 5 to 10 seconds. Form scones by pressing the dough into an 8-inch round cake pan (I dusted the inside of the cake pan with a little flour first), then turning the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and then cutting the dough into 8 wedges with either a knife or a bench scraper. (Deb also offers an alternative method of cutting the dough into rounds with a biscuit cutter and reshaping the dough after each cutout, with the caveat that the rounds made will come out lumpier and *less pretty*, but taste is unaffected).

-Place wedges (or rounds) on an ungreased baking sheet and bake until scone tops are lightly browned, about 12-15 minutes. Cool on wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

- I made these in the morning and didn't eat them until the evening, and they were absolutely delicious, but I bet they'd be even more so still warm from the oven :) A slather of butter, Devonshire cream, berry preserves, lemon curd, or even unadorned, these scones will absolutely win you over :)

I think Miss Potter and her animal friends would be pleased:)




Nubby Tongue said...

A) Those look so yummy! And what a great idea for a book club snack.

B) So jealous of your book club! I've always wanted to join one. But how in the world do you find one to join?!

LynnieBee said...

Well, this one sort of just happened :) Merlyn (from Merry Mischief/ Sterling fame)started it. She was asking around on her blog/FB to see if anyone would be interested in starting/joining a book club about Fairy Tales/Folk Stories, a bunch of people said yes, and then suddenly we had a book club :) I think it can be as simple as rounding up a bunch of friends with similar-ish taste in books and going from there, and depending on the online capability of those involved, you could always start an online book club. Each read a book and then chat about it online :) Deanna at Crunchy Chicken does this :)

Nubby Tongue said...

Very true! I have my hopes up that I'll find a book club to join out here and be able to meet people slash make friends through it. I just don't know where to look!

Merlyn said...

Thanks for the plug honey! And the scones WERE delicious, I can attest to that! :)

Next month: "Fairy Stories" :)