Sunday, March 23, 2008

Blueberry Scones

One of my friends loves to watch America’s Test Kitchens on public television. My husband and I rarely turn on the TV, unless it’s a special sporting event, like the World Series or the Super Bowl. So I would never know about programs like this or their websites, if it weren’t for her enthusiasm in sharing these recipes.

So to that friend I am very grateful for sharing with me recently the recipe from America’s Test Kitchens for Blueberry Scones. Hands down, these are the best scones my husband and I have ever tasted!

Unlike many scone recipes, which are dry and crumbly, these scones are moist without being cake-like. And they’re sweet and buttery, too…definitely richer than other recipes I’ve tried. But if you don’t make them often, I think they’re worth the few extra calories.

1 stick + 2 Tbsp. frozen unsalted butter
1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
½ cup whole milk
½ cup sour cream
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup + 1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. grated lemon zest

Grate the stick of butter into a bowl and then freeze again until needed. Keep blueberries in freezer until needed, too.

Whisk together milk and sour cream in a medium-sized bowl and then refrigerate until needed.

Whisk together flour, ½ cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest in a large bowl. Add frozen grated butter to the flour mixture and toss until thoroughly coated.

Add milk mixture to flour mixture and fold with spatula until just combined. Transfer dough to a liberally floured work surface, dust dough with more flour, and flour your hands as well before kneading the dough six to eight times, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking. At this point, it should just hold together in a ragged ball.

Roll dough into a 12-inch square. Fold it into thirds like a business letter (bringing part of it up half way and then bringing the other part down over the folded part). Then lift the short ends of the dough and fold into thirds again to form a 4-inch square. Transfer dough to a plate lightly dusted with flour and chill in freezer for five minutes.

Transfer chilled dough to floured work surface and roll into a 12-inch square again. Sprinkle blueberries evenly over the surface of the dough, pressing them down to slightly embed into the dough.

Roll the dough into a tight log. Lay seam-side down and press log into a 12-x4-inch rectangle. Using a sharp, floured knife, cut rectangle into 4 equal rectangles, and then each rectangle into two triangles. Transfer the eight triangles onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Melt remaining 2 Tbsp. butter and brush it over the tops of the scones. Then sprinkle them with the remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake at 425 degrees in a pre-heated oven until tops and bottoms are golden brown, about 18-25 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool 10 minutes before serving.

To Make Ahead:
Refrigerate unbaked scones overnight or freeze until needed. When ready to bake refrigerated scones, heat oven to 425 degrees and bake as directed above. For frozen scones, heat oven to 375 degrees and extend the cooking time to 25-30 minutes.

Important Tips:
  • It’s important to work the dough as little as possible—knead and fold the dough only the number of times specified.
  • The butter should be frozen solid before grating, and if it your climate is warm or humid, you’ll also want to chill the flour mixture and the work bowls. If using frozen berries, do not defrost them.
  • An equal amount of raspberries, blackberries, or strawberries can be used instead, as long as larger berries are cut into ¼- to ½-inch pieces first.
  • Refrigerate or freeze leftover scones in an airtight container. To serve, place scones on baking sheet again and heat in a 375-degree oven until warmed and re-crisped.

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