Buttermilk Cherry Scones
Scones are sort of like a sweetened version of biscuits. I used buttermilk to wet the dough, as you would for biscuits, but I then added dried cherries for sweetness. You don’t want the scones to be as sugary as French pastries, because scones are typically eaten with jam. I spent most of my childhood vacations in Great Britain, and what I remember most is how wonderful English breakfast and tea time food was. Between the wonderful tea selections, orange marmalade and scones, I can't recall better breakfast fare anywhere else.
This weekend I felt like introducing my little 5-year-old munchkin to the scones I enjoyed in my childhood. She helped me measure everything, all the while proudly spelling out loud every single ingredient while nibbling on the extra dried cherries. She's in kindergarten and is so eager to learn. Cooking with children is a great way to give them a little knowledge about food, while at the same time introducing them to spelling and a little bit of math. Teaching small children how to read and count should be kept fun and lighthearted, and I can’t think of a better way to do so.
Yields: 12 scones3-½ cups flour (see tips)
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
1-¼ cups buttermilk
1/3 cup dried cherries
4 tablespoons Belgian pearl sugar
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
For the dry ingredients:
Reserve about 1 tablespoon of flour for rolling the dough on the pastry board.
In a bowl, combine the flour, salt, sugar, cream of tartar and baking soda. Sift all the dry ingredients.
For the scone dough:
Reserve about 1-½ tablespoons of buttermilk. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat the egg with granulated sugar for about 5-6 minutes. You'll get a pale, yellow foam and the texture of the eggs will be thicker.
Dice 2 tablespoons of chilled butter and reserve in the refrigerator while preparing the dough.
In the bowl, place the dry ingredients. Grate 4 tablespoons of butter over the bowl using a cheese grater. Mix the ingredients using a pastry cutter (if you don't have one, the back of a fork works fine as well). Mix until barely blended and still crumbly. Incorporate the eggs and buttermilk. Finally, add the reserved chilled butter and the dried cherries to the scone mixture. Do NOT over-mix; otherwise the scones will have a dense texture.
Sprinkle the reserved flour over a pastry board and transfer the scone dough. Using a rolling pin, even out the dough to about a 1-inch thickness. Create 10 disks using (3-1/16" diameter or 76 millimeters) biscuit cutters and form the last 2 disks with the remnants of dough (knead the dough as little as possible).
Place the scones on a baking sheet, previously lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the reserved buttermilk over the scones. Sprinkle the top with pearl sugar.
Bake for about 5 minutes at 375°F, then lower the heat to 350°F and bake for another 20-23 minutes. For a golden top, I broiled the scones for a minute. Transfer the scones to cooling racks.
Serve warm with butter, fruit preserves or marmalade.
If you're fond of chocolate, you could also add chocolate chips. You could also add sliced almonds for more crunch.
The traditional way of making baking powder is by combining 1 part of baking soda and 1 of part cornstarch to 2 parts cream of tartar. Corn starch is often used as a thickening agent in commercial baking powder and is not necessary in this recipe. However, you can always use baking powder if you don't have baking soda and cream of tartar on hand.
For the perfect texture, it's preferable to combine 2-½ cups of all-purpose flour and 1 cup of cake flour but if you like, you can also use 3-½ cups of all-purpose flour.
To ensure that the mixture remains cold, it's preferable to use a pastry cutter, rather than kneading the dough by hand.
Belgian pearl sugar is available in specialty stores and online. It's a coarse sugar that's a less sweet than regular sugar. The thick lump of sugar keeps its shape and does not melt when it's baked, so you'll still find a sugar crust after the scones are baked. I also use this type of sugar for making brioche, rugelach and waffles.
I added 1-¼ cups of buttermilk to thin the dough; you want the scone dough to be wet and rather sticky.
For more recipes using cherries, check out the link.
Published By: on May 4, 2010.