Thursday, February 10, 2011

Scottish Scones with Ginger and Lemon: Breakfast, revised

For two years my friend Ashley has been talking about these scones.

“Best EVER!” She’d exclaim, her voice stretched to capacity as she over enunciated the word “ever.”

I’d smile politely and say something noncommittal like, “I’ll have to try them,” before changing the subject so we could discuss something I actually wanted to make.

Like a new quinoa salad recipe. Or anything containing chocolate and salted caramel.

Because even if they were the best scones EVER and, as Ashley so proudly claimed, “make a week’s worth of breakfast,” I had no actual interest in them. I eat oatmeal for breakfast – not buttery pastries that could double as bricks.

As much as I enjoy my morning bowl of oats, however, even I can admit that the goopy, paste-like sludge is not exactly the most aesthetically pleasing of dishes – especially for a birthday brunch party with girlfriends. Nobody wants to eat a bowl of mush with their glass of Viognier – myself included.

So two Sundays ago, I broke down and finally made Orangette’s Scottish Scones with Lemon and Ginger that are featured in her book, A Homemade Life. Not for me, of course – for my friend Sook who isn’t particularly bothered by the hockey puck-like texture of most scones. (As a rule, the birthday gal isn’t particularly bothered by anything containing carbohydrates.)

At the time, it never occurred to me that I would be the one who wouldn’t be able to resist eating two, both smothered in the tangerine lemon curd I made to pair with them.

The scones are gorgeous – golden brown on the bottoms and cheerfully speckled with tempting bits of candied ginger. With their delicate crumb, the interiors are no less compelling. They’re slightly biscuit-like – light and tender and begging to be spread with some form of spreadable like the aforementioned curd. They aren’t bricks, they’re a true breakfast pastry and may very well be the best scones EVER.

Or at the very least, a nice alternative to a pasty bowl of oatmeal.

Scottish Scones with Lemon and Ginger
From Orangette’s A Homemade Life
Yield: 8 scones

Adaptations: I’m doubling the amount of crystallized ginger that’s called for in the original recipe. While the scones were still lovely with just 1/4th a cup, I found myself wanting just a little bit more kick from the ginger. I also think adding a dash of ground ginger would be quite nice also.

½ cup half and half (plus additional for glazing)
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ stick unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
3 tablespoons sugar
½ cup crystallized ginger, chopped
2 teaspoons lemon zest

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Using your hands, rub the butter into the flour mixture, squeezing and pinching with your fingertips until the mixture resembles a coarse meal and there are no butter lumps bigger than a pea.

Add the sugar, crystallized ginger and lemon zest, and whisk to incorporate.

Pour ½ cup half-and-half into a small bowl or measuring cup and add the egg. Beat with a fork to mix well. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture, and stir gently to just combine. The dough will look dry and shaggy, and there may be some incorporated flour at the bottom of the bowl. Don’t worry about that. Using your hands, squeeze and press the dough into a rough mass. (DTAB Note: If the batter seems unusually sticky (mine did!) stick it in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to firm up again.)

Turn the dough, and any excess flour, out onto a lightly floured board or countertop, and press and gather and knead it until it just comes together. Do not knead the dough more than 12 times…you don’t want to overwork it. As soon as the dough holds together, pat it into a rough circle about 1 inch thick. Cut the circle into 8 wedges.

Place the wedges on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Pour a splash of half-and-half into a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of the scones with a thin coat to glaze.

Bake 10-14 minutes, or until pale golden. Transfer them to wire rack to cool slightly, and serve warm, preferably with Joy the Baker’s tangerine lemon curd.


Esi said...

I looooove scones! I like baking them more than eating them because cutting butter into flour gets my aggression out, but when they come out perfectly flaky and light, it is amazing. Have you made Ina's cheddar dill scones?

H. C. said...

Ohhh, sounds so much like Teaism's infamous Ginger Scones... and super dangerous for me too, since I happen to have all the ingredients in that recipe justy lying about my place... yes incl. the crystallized ginger (OK, maybe whole milk instead of half-and-half.)

Diana said...

Esi - It was reaaaally fun squeezing the butter and flour between my fingers! Which is why I think my batter ended up a bit sticky! I warmed up the butter a little too much!

HC - I highly recommend these scones -- and they don't have *that* much butter or sugar so are practically the same as a piece of toast! ;)

Ashley said...

H.C. - they are almost IDENTICAL to teaism scones. Now if only we can find a recipe for the salty oat cookie...

Glad you finally gave in, Diana :)

Gastronomer said...

Ooooh, these sound great! I don't recall them from the book for some reason... Anywho, I've got a bag of crystallized ginger in the cupboard that are waiting to be made into Orangette sconez. Woot!

Kung Food Panda said...

I'd love to try some of your baked goods one day D!