I can vividly recall one of the first times I made scones from scratch. I was not yet married to my husband, but we had recently moved in together, and his parents were coming from Montana to visit us in Washington, DC. Of course, I was eager to make a good impression, a big part of which, in my mind, involved feeding everyone well – and preferably making it look easy, too!
As I planned our menus, scones struck me as the perfect thing for at least one breakfast. They are usually a little unexpected, compared to muffins or a quick bread, but almost universally well-received. I mean, who wouldn’t love a slightly sweet, buttery scone in the morning, especially one studded with berries, nuts, cinnamon, or some other treasure? And the very best part for the chef? You can make and freeze them in advance!! The morning that you want to knock the socks off your houseguests eat them, just unwrap as many scones as you need, bake straight from frozen, then relax and sip your coffee like the stately kitchen goddess you are while the sweet smells start to waft through your house.
The only teensy tiny problem that first time I went on a must-impress-the-eventual-in-laws-scone-making-binge was a slight personal injury. Many scone recipes call for grating a stick of frozen butter, which allows the butter to stay very, very cold even as it’s incorporated evenly into the dough. No problem, right? Well, if you are overzealous and lacking caution, as I was, rubbing a frozen stick of butter up against the cruel sharp ridges of a box grater is a really easy way to slice open the outside of your thumb instead. Needless to say, I threw away that stick of butter, and after some pressure, gauze, and medical tape, take two went quite a bit better. Since then, I have learned that you can achieve the same grated butter effect in about 30 seconds using your food processor, with no threat to yourself or others. A definite improvement!
Needless to say, I was quite glad to have made that batch of scones before I actually needed them, so there was no cause for medical alarm with guests before breakfast. If fact, the scones and the whole visit went swimmingly, and I’m proud to now be those lovely house-guests’ daughter-in-law.
This particular scone recipe incorporates two treasures – toasted pecans and rich cinnamon. The flavor comes through in the form of both a cinnamon sugar layer that winds through the rings of dough, and via a sprinkling of cinnamon bites. Cinnamon bites can be a little hard to find – I have personally never seen them in a grocery store that I frequent – but are readily available online, and definitely worth ordering to add to your pantry. They keep forever, and are delicious mixed into all manner of muffins, cookies, and other baked goods. Not that these scones aren’t reason enough, because they definitely are. 🙂 Enjoy!
Cinnamon Chip Scones
Yield: 8 scones
For the dough:
8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, frozen whole
½ cup milk
½ cup plain greek yogurt
1 cup (5 oz.) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
1 cup (5 oz.) whole wheat flour
½ cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
For the filling:
Whole milk or cream, for brushing
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
3 tbsp. sugar
½ cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted
¼ cup cinnamon baking bites (available here)
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Coarse sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
For the glaze:
½ cup powdered sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. milk
Preheat the oven to 425˚ F, and line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Grate the frozen butter on the holes of a large box grater. (Or, save your fingers and just press the butter through your food processor set with the shreddding disc. Life changing!)
In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the milk and yogurt; refrigerate until needed. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flours, ½ cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine. Add the grated butter to the flour mixture and toss with fingers until the butter pieces are thoroughly coated.
Add the milk-yogurt mixture to the dry ingredients and fold with a spatula just until combined. Turn the dough out onto a generously floured work surface. Dust the top of the dough with flour, and knead with well-floured hands, 6-8 times, just until the dry ingredients are mostly incorporated.
Roll the dough into a 12-inch square. Using a bench scraper, fold the dough into thirds like a business letter, then fold the short ends of the dough into the center in thirds, to form an approximate 4-inch square. Transfer the dough to a plate lightly dusted with flour and chill in the freezer for 5 minutes.
Reflour your work surface, return the dough, and roll it back out into an approximately 10-inch square. Lightly brush the surface of the dough with milk or cream. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and 3 tbsp. sugar; sprinkle the mixture evenly over the dough. Layer with the toasted pecans and cinnamon chips. Carefully roll the dough up into a tight log, and lay the log seam side down on a cutting board. Use a sharp, floured knife to slice the log into 8 round disc-shaped scones.
Place the shaped scones on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly brush the top of each with melted butter and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes to chill before baking. (Refrigerating the scones before baking is not strictly necessary, but it will help them keep their shape a bit better if you are baking them right away. If instead you want to freeze some or all for later use, flash freeze the scones on the baking sheet for 20-40 minutes, then wrap individually and store in a freezer bag until needed.)
Bake until the tops and bottoms are golden brown, 16-20 minutes (20-22 if baking from the freezer). Transfer to a wire rack and let cool at least 10 minutes. To make the glaze, combine the powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk in a small bowl. Whisk together until smooth, adding additional milk or sugar to reach your preferred consistency. Drizzle the glaze over the scones, and serve warm.
Source: Annie’s Eats