February 16, 2009

a proper breakfast

One morning in January, when I had the day off and Ryan didn't, and I couldn't fall back asleep and the kitchen was begging to be dirtied and I just couldn't keep my hands off a new recipe, I made scones. 

And we haven't been quite the same since. You see, I never knew what having a scone really meant. The only time I'd ever, in my life, had a real honest-to-goodness scone was at my friend Ellen's house. She, being one of my highly cultured friends, made homemade scones with whipped cream (and having never eaten an honest scone before, I had to ask what the white fluffy stuff was) and strawberry jam, and Earl Grey tea with cream and lumps of sugar. 

So when I stepped out into the scone-making world, a bar had already been set; and I had to clear the bar, because no way was I going to disappoint myself, or the bf for that matter. That's when I reached for both Bittman's book and the Joy of Cooking: this is what I'd call scone research. 

What makes a scone a scone, you ask, and not a biscuit? Two words: heavy cream. Also known as sweet glorious nectar of the gods, don't you agree? Yes, my friends, heavy cream gives scones their decadent yet simple, lightweight yet filling, country-biscuit yet hi-falutin-pastry-like feel. 

The recipe I used went a little something like this (adapted from How to Cook Everything)
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
2 tbls sugar
5 tbls cold butter
3 eggs
3/4 cup cream

• Heat oven to 450. Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl, reserving 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Cut the butter into bits and either pulse it in the food processor (easier) or rub the butter into the dry mixture with your fingertips (messier and more fun). Make sure all the butter is thoroughly blended in before you move on. 
• Beat 2 of the eggs with the cream in a large bowl. With a few swift strokes, combine them with the flour mixture. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead only 10 times. The dough should stick a little to your hands. 
• Press the dough into a 3/4-inch-thick rectangle and cut into 2-inch rounds with a biscuit cutter (I used a glass tumbler). Put the rounds on an ungreased baking sheet. Gently reshape the leftover dough and cut again. Beat the remaining egg with 1 tbls water and brush the top of each scone; sprinkle each with a little of the remaining sugar. 
• Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until the scones are light golden brown. 
• Serve with fresh whipped cream and local berries. Over and over again. The next weekend, Ryan's parents were coming into town and spending the night with us. I asked Ryan if I should make scones for them. "Are they going to be exactly like the ones you made last week?" he asked. Apparently I'd set my own scone bar. Thankfully, when I made them for his parents, they were just as good as the week before. Here's hoping that they'll be just as good from here on out.