Sunday, April 25, 2010

Breakfast Scones and Very Little Effort

Every once in a while I have the urge to have a simple one-dish breakfast that is more glamorous than cereal and less laborious than pancakes, bacon and eggs.  Scones my dear friends, are the answer to that breakfast dilemma.  You will almost always have EVERYTHING you need already stock-piled in the pantry and chilled in the fridge, and if not, if for some reason you don't always have heavy cream idling in your fridge or butter on the counter, you can improvise with what you DO have.  For example, this very morning, while perusing my refrigerator for the typical scone staples, I had a moment of panic.  Where was the cream?  Did I even have butter!  Oh goodness... had I restocked the flour canister?  Well, I needn't have worried that much, as the flour jar was filled, the butter was chilled and there was even a sweet little carton of heavy cream staring me in the face, and it hadn't even been opened!  Of course, had I not had the cream, I could have considered adding milk, which I had in abundance, or even the left-over mascarpone cheese I had used for the Milk and Honey parfaits.  If I had to... (and this is ONLY if I had to, in a desperate attempt to satisfy a now irrational scone craving, I could have used margarine instead of butter, but good heavens, I didn't have to cross that bridge this morning.... )

In any case, everything I needed was all within arms reach and to top that all off, the kitchen was clean, bright and calling my name.  This recipe comes directly from Smitten Kitchen's site, and is entitled, Dreamy Cream Scones and they are indeed exactly as described in their name... simply heavenly!  The only adaptation that I made to these scones was that I omitted the dried fruit present in Deb's recipe.  She uses chopped dried cranberries, as could you, or any other dried fruit, nut or item your heart desires.  I opted for simple, smooth scones, and that is exactly what I got!

Here's what you'll need:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 cup heavy cream

parchment paper
a cookie sheet
extra flour for dusting
a knife or biscuit cutter
your appetite

Here's what you'll need to do:

First off, don't wake up hours ahead of time to make these, and don't panic about what you have in the pantry to make these scones.  These are simple scones.  These are easy scones. These are forgiving scones.  If you have a food processor, these little beauties become even easier to make!  Having said that, using old fashioned tools like "hands" takes little time as well and won't necessarily kill you. 

1.  First, adjust a rack in the oven to middle position and preheat to 425 degrees.

2.  In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Pulse six times to combine.

3.  Now, evenly distribute the "cubes" of butter, and I quote the word "cubes" because you may have perfect cubes, or, like me, you may have numerous disfigured lumps that only slightly resemble cubes.  Either way, evenly distribute the chunks of butter into the flour mixture, return the lid to the processor and pulse 12 times until the butter has become the size of peas.  

4.  Pour the flour/butter mixture into a large bowl and add the heavy cream.  Use a spatula to slowly incorporate the cream into the flour mixture until a slight dough forms.  

5.  At this point, move the dough out of the bowl onto a floured counter top and work the mixture together until it forms a sticky, ball shape. 

6.  Now, you can do one of many things.  As Deb suggests, you can press the scone mixture into an 8" round cake pan, pop it back out and cut the circle into 8 wedges, or you can form the mixture into a rough, flattened shape right on the counter and use a biscuit cutter to form the scones, OR, as I have done, you can press the mixture into an 8" square pan (it was all I had) pop it back out and cut the whole thing into 9, even-sized squares.  

Really, however you shape, cut, divide the scones is up to you and takes nothing away from the over-all flavor or success of the scone.  Your preference.  

7.  Once formed and cut into shapes, place the scones onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 425 degrees for 12 - 15 minutes or until the scone tops are lightly browned.

8.  Remove the scones from the oven and cool on a rack for 10 minutes, (if you can wait,) and serve slightly warm or room temperature with softened butter, preserves, honey, or just plain.

These are definitely as dreamy as their name suggests, even hours later, as I sit typing and snacking on a scone, it is still moist, flaky, creamy and smooth.  With very little effort and a short ingredient list, these might very well become my "go-to" scone for breakfasts, brunches and any other time I feel like it!  


A Canadian Foodie said...

Absolutely perfect. After just returning from London and Clotted cream and double cream and cream cream and scones and tea - this is perfect. Gorgeous photos. I collect pressed glass cake pedestals. Love them. Yours is boo-ti-full! I am remembering my mouth full of double cream and scones and tea and scooping up more double cream to slather over more scone to line up for the next bite. Luscious.

Nikki said...

Thanks for the comments Valerie! I love scones, they're just so, delicious! The clotted cream and double cream would have been a welcome addition to our breakfast yesterday!

A Canadian Foodie said...

OK, gorgeous girl! I know you are cooking - and taking photos of it... where is my inspiration for today - on this rainy long weekend Saturday morning! I miss your creative touch! Exams are over aren't they? Are you away, celebrating?
Can you see the difference in my photos... not great yet. Mainly using auto. Have never used the 500 lens yet! Need more patience and time with a piece of food at home on a well lit day. Am still intimidated, but much more comfortable with some aspects of the camera. I need to take a formal lesson - if you find out about one, let me knwo!

A Canadian Foodie said...

I am back - and often... you need to post something new... this is gorgeous - but I know you have more beautiful work up your sleeve....
(does this nagging remind you of anything?...)

Nikki said...

Oh Valerie... how right you are! Have they perfected human cloning yet? Because I could certainly do with two of my, or three, or four... I seem to be in a whirlwind as of late, but I do, I DO, have some things up my sleeve! Thanks for returning to a presently stagnant blog.. how sad that sentence is...