Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Because I Actually DID Get Bored...

I really did make scones as a way to fill the time and give myself a tasty snack. Alas, if you want play-by-play photos of the whole messy process with a list of how many dirty dishes this endeavour will cost you, you're at the wrong blog. For that kind of detailed and fun approach, I humbly direct you along to Cakery Bakery: the sugary brain-child of my sister-in-law, Rachel.

But for my own baking expedition, I'm a much more "off the beaten track" sort of gal. No: not clichĂ©-happy, but desperate willing to take a look at a set of instructions in a recipe and think of them like Captain Barbossa from Pirates of the Carribbean...

"They're more what you'd call guidelines than actual rules..."

That said, my guidelines came from my trusty rusty Fannie Farmer Cookbook. The cookbook of my childhood...except mine still has the cover attached. I never did know what the cover to that book looked like: I have no memory of it with intact binding.

I'm practically certain you could successfully Google this if you were so inclined, but I'm feeling magnanimous enough to make things easy. So here, for your reading and baking-experimenting pleasure, is Fannie Farmer's cream scones recipe:

2 cups flour                         4 tablespoons butter/white flora/crisco
2 tsp baking powder           2 eggs, well beaten
1 tbsp sugar                        1/2 cup cream
1/2 tsp salt

You mix all the dry ingredients together and then add the fatty lard-like product of your choice. Then, your butter/shortening added, it needs to be cut it in.

This is best done with a pastry cutter (one of my requisite kitchen indulgences as a young housewife), but if you're pastry cutter-less you can always go for the old two-knives trick. Just one knife in each hand dragged back and forth in opposite directions through your floury mix.

Once the whole mix resembles either coarse meal or a mound of tiny peas in flour, you add your eggs and cream, stirring until the mixture is blended (aka: there's no dry flour anywhere). Flour up your counter and hands and then knead the dough for a minute or so. Roll it out so it's just less than 1" thick and then cut it into wedges. At 425° F, you pop these babies into the oven on a slightly greased cookie sheet and 15 minutes later: voilĂ ! You have scones.

Now, I have nothing against the late great Fannie Farmer. I respect her formidable New England prowess in the culinary arts. But these scones just sounded a little too boring to eat on their own as a snack. And let's face it - my own hunger is usually the first thing that motivates me to cook anything, so anything I cook has to be something I want to eat. Enter my own additions to the recipe:

1/4 tsp nutmeg             1-2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon          1/2 tsp vanilla extract.

Obviously, all the dry ingredients get added at the beginning with the flour, baking powder, et. al. and then vanilla is added along with the cream and eggs. This adds just a hint of spice to the scones, which makes them something special. What would I do differently next time?
1) either add more sugar to make them slightly sweeter, or just sprinkle white sugar on top before baking them. I opted for the second approach with half of the scones this time. (The Husband informed me that this makes them taste somewhere in the no-man's land between scones and hot cross buns, which is - apparently - a good place to be for Dr. Frankenstein's Scone.)
2) there is the possibility of adding a full teaspoon of vanilla, but since this was a first-time experiment, I wanted to be careful not to overdo it. I didn't: you can definitely double the vanilla if you so choose.

So here, in all their glory, are my Cinnamon Vanilla Cream Scones:

I had mine with some butter, but I think they'd be brilliant with some clotted cream or apple butter or maple syrup or something. I'm salivating just thinking about the possibilities.

So there you go! If you get bored and hungry and are in the mood for a good cold-weather, breakfasty-type snack, I'd suggest giving these a go. Or (even better), take Ms. Farmer's base recipe and come up with your own fun variation! I'd be interested to see what else could be done to these scones.

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