A Favorite Recipe
“For the world was changing, and sweetness was gone, and virtue too. Worry had crept on a corroding world, and what was lost—good manners, ease and beauty? Ladies were not ladies any more, and you couldn’t trust a gentleman’s word.”
East of Eden, John Steinbeck
Oh wow! What an election year! Every day brings more information and mis-information. It’s a dizzy time in America. The one-two punches hit in the gut. Emotional responses explode throughout the media. Discussing the election is for the brave. I am already weary of the politics. Let’s bake our way to November to keep our sanity.
I have a problem with scones. Once I learned how easy they were to make I wanted to make them all the time. Fresh baked scones are the perfect way to begin the day. They are fabulous plain, with butter and jam but my favorite is to add whatever fruit is in season. Adding peaches, plums, strawberries, apples, pears or cherries will make wonderful scones. I add as much fruit as possible, as much as the dough will hold. Cherry scones are great, but Cherry Almond Scones are better. The almond comes from almond paste in the dough and just the barest hint of almond extract in the glaze. The almond paste brings a touch of almond flavor and a touch of creamy smoothness to the scones. Cherry Almond Scones are not a new idea, but this recipe is my version and it’s a great one. When both picky daughter and the Mr rave about my baking I know I have a recipe worthy to share with you.
There are so many recipes for scones, I may have tried them all. This is my favorite. To be fair, technique, how the ingredients are handled is more important than the exact recipe. Adding fruit or other add-ins will change the amount of liquid needed, doesn’t matter if its milk, buttermilk, cream or even yogurt. In some recipes eggs are added too. Like pie dough, over handling the dough will result in a tough, dense outcome. The dough does need a certain amount of working to bring together the flour and the butter and then to add the liquid. Once the liquid ingredients are combined with the dry, handle only enough to bring the dough together with the fruit, less handling equals tender scones. There is a look and feel to making scones and biscuits too. A recipe is a good outline, after that its time to bake and enjoy.
A question to ponder, small or large scones? I’ll let you decide. This recipe makes 16 medium size scones or 8 huge scones. Cherries will tumble about as they are incorporated into the dough, just press them back in. Lots and lots of cherries are the goal. Cherry season doesn’t last forever, let’s get baking.
|1t||fine grain sea salt|
|3/4C/12T||unsalted butter, chilled|
|1/2C/4oz||almond paste, grated|
|1-3/4C||pitted and halved sweet cherries|
|3T||milk or cream|
- Heat the oven to 425°. Line two sheet pans with parchment.
- Sift or shake through a sieve into a large bowl the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut the cold butter into cubes and add to the bowl. Use your fingers or a pastry cutter to massage the flour into the butter, until the largest pieces of butter are the size of peas. Make sure all the butter is coated with flour. Add the grated almond paste and distribute throughout the flour and butter mixture. Make a well in the center of the bowl and add the buttermilk. Use a flexible bench scraper or rubber spatula to fold the buttermilk into the flour mixture. Scoop down around the edges and bottom of the bowl to incorporate all the flour. The dough should come together, if there are dry spots add more buttermilk, a tablespoon at a time. Do not over-mix.
- Scrape the dough out of the bowl unto a floured work surface. Bring the dough together and knead it a few times, just until it forms a cohesive ball. Flatten the dough into a rectangle, roughly 12”x6” (no need to be exact). Spread the cherries across the surface of the dough. Use a bench scraper to lift one of the narrow ends of the dough and fold it over unto the middle of the rectangle. Press down to push the cherries into the dough. Bring the second end of the dough to the middle and press down. Knead the dough a few times to incorporate the cherries throughout the dough. Push any stray cherries back into the dough. Resist the temptation to evenly distribute the cherries throughout the dough which will result in dense scones. To make 16 scones, cut the dough in half, placing one half aside on a lightly floured surface. Pat the second piece of dough into a 6”-7” inch circle. Using a floured bench scraper or a knife cut the circle into 8 wedges, by first cutting the circle in quarters and then cutting each quarter in half. Using a bench scraper or spatula to move the scones to the prepared sheet pan, evenly spacing them across the surface of the pan. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the scones are browned around the edges with lightly browned bottoms. Remove from the sheet pan to a cooling rack. Repeat with the second half of dough.
- While the scones bake prepare the glaze by whisking together the powdered sugar, almond extract and milk or cream. Add milk or cream until the desired consistency is achieved. Drizzle or spread the glaze across the warm scones. Garnish with sliced almonds. Best served warm, but can be briefly reheated in the microwave.