I’m a goat. I will eat just about anything. I’m not squeamish or squirrely about much of anything. Like creepy food. Or random bodily injuries (just ask the poor surgeons who have been asked on several occasions to show me the excised cyst, tumor, polyp, tonsil or wisdom tooth of the unwitting family member who thought it would be a good idea to take ME as their designated driver to a surgery).
(Oops. Sorry, I forgot this was a food post, not a let’s-gross-each-other-out post.)
But, despite this near-iron stomach, there is a food category that I JUST DON’T GET: sweet non-desserts. Think Orange Chicken (blech). Muffins (Really, just pick already! If you are trying to be a dessert, own it and add some icing, if not, just be bread.). Granola (Cereal should either be plain and nutritious <Cheerios, oatmeal>, or sugar bomb, smack-you-in-the-head delicious <Cocoa Krispies, Cap’n Crunch>. Quit trying to fool us with these sugar laden “healthy” cereals. Bah humbug.).
And so we come to scones. Scones, to me, epitomize the whole “I’m so confused! Am I a dessert or a savory dish?” conundrum. A semi-sweet biscuit? A very bland cake? What?! What are you, you bready brick of dead dessert dreams?
And then to add insult to injury, someone (Hello, Great Britain. I’m talking to you.) decided that a scone must have dried fruit in it. Ugh. It’s like the British said, “Let’s make a national dessert that no one else will ever like so we can CLAIM IT FOREVER! Bwahahaaaaa!”
But then things got a little muddled after I bought The Baking Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum. She’s the Queen of Baking who tests and tests, then re-tests and re-tests every recipe on the planet. And then she writes the recipes up like she is teaching a culinary baking course. Rose is irreproachable in the world of baking.
And I had a ½ stick of cream cheese that needed to be used and her scone recipe called for exactly 1/2 stick of cream cheese. Yes, it came down to that.
Besides, I figured that after I made scones from the Scion of Baking (You can use that, Rose. You’re welcome.), and they were still lame, I could write a whole “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE” post mocking all you scone lovers for your unexamined love of pastry hockey pucks.
WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE, YOU MAGNIFICENT LUMPY TRIANGLES OF CREAMY, FLAKY, LEMONY NIRVANA?!
Oh. My. Goodness. How could I have been so wrong? How could I have not appreciated that beautiful balance between lightness and heft, sweet and substance. Scones, I love you.
Well played, Great Britain. Well played.
Cranberry Lemon Scones
(adapted from The Baking Bible Flaky Cream Cheese Scone recipe, by Rose Levy Beranbaum)
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold
1/2 block (4 ounces) cream cheese, cold
3/4 cup heavy cream, cold
1 1/3 cup cake flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon aluminum free baking powder
3/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon zest
1/2 cup dried cranberries, cut in half
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon honey
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Drape a large sheet of plastic film over a 9 inch cake pan.
Cut the butter and cream cheese into small cubes. Cover the butter in plastic wrap and return to the refrigerator. Do the same with the cream cheese. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
Pour the heavy cream into a mixing bowl and place it in the refrigerator along with the beaters (next to the bowl, not in). Chill for at least 15 minutes. Whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Return to the refrigerator. (I forgot to mix the cream and just poured it straight in. They still came out delicious.)
In a large bowl, mix together the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest.
Add the cream cheese cubes and cut into the mixture (using two knives) until they are pea size.
Add the butter cubes and toss to coat with flour. With your hands, gently press the cubes between your fingers until you form thin flakes.
Stir in the cranberries.
Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in your whipped cream and honey. With a silicone spatula, slowly mix the flour mixture into the cream in a circular motion until it is just moistened. Knead dough just until it holds together.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead a few times. You want to handle the dough as little as possible, just getting it to a point where it is stretchy and can be shaped.
Shape the dough into a disk and place it on top of the plastic film cake pan. Shape the disk so that it fits to the diameter of the pan. Cover with the excess plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
Cut the disk into 8 triangles and space evenly on the baking sheet (try to leave a couple of inches between scones).
Bake for 10 minutes. Turn the pan 180 degrees and bake for 10 to 15 more minutes, or until lightly golden brown.
Cool the scones on a baking rack. Glaze, if desired.
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (more if needed)
Whisk together the sugar and lemon juice until it is thin enough to drizzle over the scones.