Every now and then I get a strong desire to bake some scones. Usually it’s because I’ve watched a show where they’re talking about the light breakfast treat or I’ve stumbled upon something in the fridge that I should use up and I know that it would (probably) be great in a scone. That happened to me just the other day. Perusing through the fridge I spotted some blueberries. I had forgotten about them. Suddenly, the realization that I could bring forth Blueberry Scones into existence in a matter of minutes was all I could think about. There was no going back. No amount of poached eggs or bacon would do. I needed scones. They needed blueberries and I needed them now.
One of the many pleasures of scones it that they don’t really take all that much time to make. You can measure out all your dry ingredients into one bowl and once those big chunks of butter have been pulverized and beaten down into pebble size pieces you add in your liquids. However, a not-so-secret fact about scones is that you don’t always need butter. And I don’t just mean replacing the butter with Crisco (although that would be fantastic, too). There are cream scones. Scones where you give your dry ingredients a whir, plop in some mix-ins and then add heavy cream until it just comes together. These scones are light and airy and somehow more buttery tasting than scones with actual butter.
The trick with cream scones is not adding too much liquid. Even when measuring it out to start off your recipe, you can still add too little or too much cream. Certain factors like humidity, the age of the flour, the mix-ins you popped in, how much sleep you’ve gotten, what time you started drinking, all have their effect on this. So the simple rule is to measure out the recommended amount and have extra on standby. Add the cream in slowly. Do not add it all at once. See how I’m telling you this? I’m a professional. I do this for a living. So you would think I would remember that. But sometimes I just get so excited that scones are coming, that I can’t contain myself, I stop thinking and just dump in all the liquid all at once. Too much liquid. So much that it’s practically dough soup. So then this professional knows that he can add in some flour to help decrease the hydration ratio. But in doing so, he also really starts to overwork that flour and develop some gluten creating a final product that is some weird hybrid of scone and bread. But again, I’m a professional. I would never let that happen. (Is sarcasm detectable over the internet?)
When I first made these, I had big plans of using an ice cream scoop to evenly portion them all out, give them a brush of egg wash and a sprinkle of sanding sugar on top. But when I ended up with a giant mass of dough, I felt so defeated and disgusted with myself that I just dumped it all onto a parchment lined sheet tray, tried my best to give it some sort of round shape that could be cut into smaller pieces and shoved into the oven and out of sight. In the end, Scone-Blob Squarepants was still edible. It wasn’t perfection. It wasn’t what I wanted my legacy to be. I knew I had to make them again. And this time, I was determined to not mess them up. If I did, then I should just stop now and go back to designing solar panel sell sheets and resizing ads for gross foot shoes in a drafty office.
Like most things, I get excited about one idea. I run with it. I do it. It happens and then once I’m past the point of no return, I get an idea for a variation. It’s not like you can just open the oven, pull apart the dough, pick out all the bits and pieces and then replace them all with your brand new-and-improved and totally awesome idea. Is it even better? Is it worth it? The benefit of making a dough mound means that the process isn’t done. There’s time to do both. And why not? Who doesn’t like some options?
So as that lump of sad dough sat baking in the oven, my mind was working on overdrive. I knew they weren’t going to be good. So of course I was thinking of many ways of what to change, what else I could do, a new technique to try. Maybe I should mix an egg into the heavy cream, or just some yolks, to up the richness of it all. Or perhaps I could go all out and melt some butter and pour that into the dough. Why not experiment and do more than just one take on this? Why not even go even further and have this be two posts. One for the original and one for the second idea. What is there to stop me? Other than budgets (like I have one) and time (that is the real reason). In the end, there is just one post, because, I don’t want scone fatigue to set in. And I did add in some butter. Melted. Because, butter. It’s a scone after all. A little extra flavor never hurt anyone that didn’t have a pre-existing heart condition.
One thing I remember from the sclob (scone blob for you non-professionals), was that it wasn’t all that flavorful. I know that most that can be blamed on the insane amounts of flour I added to make it shapeable and then not adjusting the ginger and the mint. But I wanted to try something different. So even though I had blueberries and ginger and mint and lemon yesterday morning, I looked at the container of strawberries and basil that was just calling to me. Strawberries are so sweet. And basil is just so refreshing. And together they are just so lovely and harmonious that for a minute, you really do believe that unicorns once roamed this planet. And just like that, in they went. (Those blueberries later found their way into a glorious adult smoothie, so it worked out in the end.)
As they sat in the oven, baking in actual scone shapes and not sad little piles of dough, I had an internal debate. Strawberries and balsamic vinegar are so amazing together. But would they work on a scone? I mean, who would want vinegar on a scone. It just sounds weird. It’s not like it’s white vinegar in the dough for baking soda to get all active and do its thing. It’s their for flavor. And as much as I would love to, I don’t buy the super fancy schmancy balscamic vinegars that come in adorable but ridiculously priced tiny little bottles. But we are in this together. And so, for you, I went for it. If it didn’t work out, I didn’t have to tell you. I wouldn’t take a picture. You would never know. So I made the icing and drizzled a little on a scone. I took a bite. I fell in love. Perfection. There’s enough powdered sugar to reduce the acidic and vinegary taste of the balsamic, plus you’re not dipping the whole scone in the icing. Just little extra bursts of flavor.
There I sat, extremely pleased with this second batch of butterless scones (well, sort of), and the massive scone mound from a week earlier began to fade away. All was right with the world again.