Every once in a while I get a hankering from something sweet. Mind you now, I am not a big sweet freak. I am more of a salt freak as in potato chips, French fries and the like. However, I do appreciate a little sweet now and then and scones are an easy to make, perfect snack. They are basically sweet baking powder biscuits with a little more sugar and fat. Of course, I cannot leave well enough alone so I have to add things. In this case I add blueberries, orange zest and chopped walnuts. Badda bing! The magic of cooking chemistry reveals itself and we have a delicious treat in about an hour. If anybody had told me I would be so interested in kitchen chemistry when I was in high school I would have taken it more seriously because, you see, cooking is chemistry through and through and don’t let anybody tell you differently! Perhaps you can be the first to tell your children that they might enjoy chemistry more if they find out that daily life is rife with practical chemistry.
Blueberry Orange Walnut Scones
The interesting thing about this recipe is that I made the first batch without cream and baking powder. I didn’t have any in the pantry and I didn’t want to go to the store. So, I used 2% milk instead of cream and left out the baking powder. The scones were still tasty though a little dense. That’s all. What I’m trying to tell you is that if you don’t have every single ingredient you can still make most recipes and this is an example. However, I would not make it if I did not have BOTH egg and baking powder. That would make them very dense. The egg has leavening properties so the recipe can survive without the baking powder.
- 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour (you can make it half and half, whole wheat and white)
- 1/2 cup sugar (you can use 1/4 brown sugar and 1/4 white for a caramel taste)
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- Zest of one or two oranges (depending on how much you like orange. I like orange!)
- 6 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold and cubed
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup heavy cream or milk (skim milk would make them plain indeed but use it if that’s all you have)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or any nut you like; pecans would be great!)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. I used a pie plate and that worked fine, too. P.S. I love parchment paper. It makes clean up so much easier!
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and orange zest.
Then add the butter and using your fingers work the butter into the flour until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs.
Now add the chopped nuts.
In a separate bowl mix together the egg, cream and vanilla until combined. Add this to the flour mixture and gently mix until it’s a soft dough. Don’t overmix. If it’s a little crumbly it’s okay. As a matter of fact, this makes it turn out a better and softer texture so don’t be concerned.
Fold in the blueberries. Now turn the dough out into the pan and form a round disc about a half inch thick or so. If you're using a pie plate simply press the mixture into the plate. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Remember what mom said, “It’s all going to wind up in your stomach!” Cut the round into 8 wedges. If you can, pull the triangles away from each other but if you don’t it will all turn out fine. Cutting wedges makes it easier to cut after it’s baked.
Brush the top of each scone with cream. Just a little. Don’t soak them. Then bake for 20 to 25 minutes or as long as it takes for them to lightly brown and come clean if you stick a toothpick in the middle of one. Let them cool a bit before transferring them to a wire rack or plate.
Tea and scones, anyone?
All photographs copyright by Renee Benoit