Buttered Scones

True story: My very first day in culinary school, I was in my first baking class and we were learning how to make scones, which is one of the simplest and most basic of all baked products.

My fellow classmates and I were required to make several batches, tasting the finished products as we went along.

Sometime around the middle of the class, I began to feel unwell. I mean, really unwell. Like somebody had stabbed me in the gut with a chef’s knife unwell.

I thought, “Great, I just left my career as a writer to become a chef, only to poison myself on the very first day of culinary school!”

It was only after I got home and had to be rushed to the hospital that I learned that it wasn’t my scones that had poisoned me, it was my appendix, which was on the brink of rupturing and had to be removed during emergency surgery.

I must admit that ever since then, scones have made me a little queasy. But they are one of the easiest and fastest baked products you can make.

Scones fall under the category of “quick breads”, which are breads that don’t need to be leavened prior to cooking. Rather than waiting hours for slower-growing yeast cultures to form air pockets in the dough — like traditional breads — quick breads are leavened instantly by chemical reactions caused by baking powder, baking soda or both.

Other examples of quick breads would include muffins, biscuits and even pancakes, all of which can be made in just a few minutes.

I flavored these scones with raisins, but you also could add frozen or fresh fruit, seeds, nuts or just about anything. Toasted and buttered scones with a little jam on the side make a lovely breakfast and they also go perfectly with mid-afternoon tea.

Scones

1/3 cup Unsalted butter

1-3/4 cup All-purpose flour

3 TBS Granulated sugar

2-1/2 tsp Baking powder

1/4 tsp Sea salt

1 Egg, beaten

1/2 cup Raisins

6 TBS Fat-free half and half

1 Egg, beaten

1 TBS Coarse sugar

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Combine butter, flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Use a biscuit cutter to cut the butter into the dry ingredients, or just use your hands, squeezing the butter and dry ingredients together between your thumbs and index fingers until it all has the consistency of small pebbles.

2. Add the egg, raisins and the half and half and stir just until the dough starts to pull away from the side of the bowl. Then turn out onto a floured work surface and knead lightly a few times adding additional flour if necessary, just until the dough forms. Be careful not to overknead, otherwise the scones will become tough. You want the dough to just hold together.

3. Flatten the dough into a 1/2-inch thick sheet using either your hands or a rolling pin, then cut the dough into triangle shapes about 4″ long, placing each on an ungreased sheet pan. Brush each peice with egg wash, sprinkle with a little coarse sugar, then bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from sheet pan and cool.

Scones are transcendent when served immediately while still warm. Another option is to cool them completely, cut in half horizontally and toast in the toaster. Scones are traditionally served with softened butter and a selection of jams.