Baking Scones

Baking scones is really so easy and rewarding.  When you taste a particularly delicious one, you think there must be a secret; these must be hard to make.  But this is not the case.  Cream scones are the easiest of all.  You simply stir cream or whole milk into the dried ingredients; there's the dough.   It will be wet and look unmanageable.  Turn it out onto a heavily floured surface, working more flour into the dough, and in a few seconds a soft workable dough can be patted out, ready to cut.  The whole process takes just  a very few minutes.   You can make any number of delicious variations just by stirring in a handful of dried fruit or nuts.  The SimplyCooking® pantry includes dried cherries or cranberries which are a favorite in scones, useful in other baking, delicious in granola and a pantry necessity for pulling together salads.

I baked cream scones this morning.  I was taken back to the summer and sunny mornings spent at The Respite in Douglas, Michigan.  The Respite's scones, made by the owner's mother, are the best I've ever tasted.  They don't have them every day; only those days she feels like making them.  It can be disappointing to go in and find no scones.  Several years ago, I tried to get her secret but with no luck.  With that I decided to experiment and get as close as I could to hers.  I found cream scones, versus those using butter or buttermilk, provide the right crumb. Whole milk is in the SimplyCooking® Pantry and works as well as half and half.   I wanted to use all-purpose flour;  I don't bake enough to stock pastry flour or other varieties.  I also found the brand of baking powder makes a difference.  The Original Bakewell Cream produces the puffiest, highest scone, but for the Cream Scone recipe below, all brands work and will produce a nice soft pillow.

In the ten minutes it took my scones to bake, I sat and reflected on The Respite.  Respite means:  an interval of rest or relief.  What an invaluable thing these days.  Here, twenties music lightly wafts through the air as if swirling about with the breeze.  The door stands open.  There is the light hum of conversations by the locals.  It is after all a community congregating place.  A woman reads each day at the same table.  Another group of four laugh and talk.  Acqaintances recognize each other and shake hands, "I bought antiques from you."   "How have you been?  I want to catch up on all the news."  While you are there time stands still.  The world goes by ever so peacefully and cheerfully.  With my tray of scones  I hope to provide my family, today, with that interval of rest or relief to pay a bill, do a little computer work or homework, read, converse or just sit.  A respite from life:  whatever life means.

cream scones

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional
1/4 cup sugar, plus 2 tsp. for topping
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 handful dried cherries or cranberries
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400° F.  In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the dry ingredients.  Mix in the dried cherries and using the back of the spoon or spatula make a well in the center.  Pour the milk into the well and stir gently.  Empty the bowl onto a heavily floured surface.  The mixture will be quite wet.  Sprinkle additional flour on top of the dough and begin to knead, working in the additional flour.  Knead until a soft dough forms.  Pat it into a 9" circle.  Brush the melted butter over the dough.  Cut into 8 wedges.  Mix 1 tsp. cinnamon and 2 tsp. sugar in a small bowl.  Sprinkle each wedge lightly with cinnamon sugar and place on an ungreased baking sheet or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Best served warm with Orange Butter.

orange butter

3 Tbsp. butter
Fresh orange zest

Bring the butter to room temperature.  Place in a small bowl and mash with a fork.  Mix orange zest.  Spread on hot scones.