Saturday, August 27, 2011

Blueberry Scones


I'm sure I will forever think of these as "hurricane scones." John and I were enjoying a few days at the Jersey Shore this week, and had to end our stay early due to the evacuations. The night before we left, we discussed what we wanted to eat while we were holed up during Irene, and scones seemed like good comfort food. We passed through Hammonton, NJ on our way home, which happens to be the blueberry capital of the world (or so it claims). So, we picked up some fresh blueberries at a farm stand and were ready for some stormy-weather baking.

If you've ever had a true British scone, these are not the same. They are also not the crumbly, dry American version you might pick up at Starbuck's. They are a bit crispy and sweet on the outside, and moist and tender on the inside. I thought they might be nice served with some lemon curd, but I didn't think it was worth going to the grocery store and fighting my way through the pre-storm crowds just to pick up a jar. You should have these with a cup of tea (preferably with milk, if you're going to be all British about it).

One somewhat unusual step in this recipe is to grate the butter. Make sure yours is good and frozen or this won't work so well. The rest of the process is kind of similar to making biscuits: you have to roll and shape the dough without over-working it. You'll definitely need a bench scraper if you're going to attempt this recipe. These are best eaten warm out of the oven, but you can freeze the dough once you've prepared it and heat them up when you're ready to eat them (further directions are below).   

If you subscribe to Cook's Illustrated, you can check out a helpful video of how to make these scones on their website.

Blueberry Scones

Note: It is important to work the dough as little as possible—work quickly and knead and fold the dough only the number of times called for. The butter should be frozen solid before grating. In hot or humid environments, chill the flour mixture and workbowls before use. While the recipe calls for 2 whole sticks of butter, only 10 tablespoons are actually used (see step 1). If fresh berries are unavailable, an equal amount of frozen berries (do not defrost) can be substituted. An equal amount of raspberries, blackberries, or strawberries can be used in place of the blueberries. Cut larger berries into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces before incorporating. Refrigerate or freeze leftover scones, wrapped in foil, in an airtight container. To serve, remove foil and place scones on a baking sheet in a 375-degree oven. Heat until warmed through and recrisped, 8 to 10 minutes if refrigerated, 16 to 20 minutes if frozen. See final step for information on making the scone dough in advance.

Ingredients

 
16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), frozen whole (see note above)
 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (about 7 1/2 ounces), picked over (see note)
 1/2 cup whole milk
 1/2 cup sour cream
 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces), plus additional for work surface
 1/2cup sugar (3 1/2 ounces), plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling
 2 teaspoons baking powder
 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
 1/2 teaspoon table salt
 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Instructions
 

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Score and remove half of wrapper from each stick of frozen butter. Following photo at left, grate unwrapped ends on large holes of box grater (you should grate total of 8 tablespoons). Place grated butter in freezer until needed. Melt 2 tablespoons of remaining ungrated butter and set aside. Save remaining 6 tablespoons butter for another use. Place blueberries in freezer until needed.

 
2. Whisk together milk and sour cream in medium bowl; refrigerate until needed. Whisk flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest in medium bowl. Add frozen butter to flour mixture and toss with fingers until thoroughly coated.

3. Add milk mixture to flour mixture; fold with spatula until just combined. With rubber spatula, transfer dough to liberally floured work surface. Dust surface of dough with flour; with floured hands, knead dough 6 to 8 times, until it just holds together in ragged ball, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking.
 
4. Roll dough into approximate 12-inch square. Fold dough into thirds like a business letter, using bench scraper or metal spatula to release dough if it sticks to countertop. Lift short ends of dough and fold into thirds again to form approximate 4-inch square. Transfer dough to plate lightly dusted with flour and chill in freezer 5 minutes.
 
5. Transfer dough to floured work surface and roll into approximate 12-inch square again. Sprinkle blueberries evenly over surface of dough, then press down so they are slightly embedded in dough. Using bench scraper or thin metal spatula, loosen dough from work surface. Roll dough, pressing to form tight log. Lay seam-side down and press log into 12 by 4-inch rectangle. Using sharp, floured knife, cut rectangle crosswise into 4 equal rectangles. Cut each rectangle diagonally to form 2 triangles and transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet.

6. Brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon sugar. Bake until tops and bottoms are golden brown, 18 to 25 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool 10 minutes before serving.
 
To Make Ahead:  

After placing the scones on the baking sheet, either refrigerate them overnight or freeze. When ready to bake, for refrigerated scones, heat oven to 425 degrees and follow directions in step 6. For frozen scones, heat oven to 375 degrees, follow directions in step 6, and extend cooking time to 25 to 30 minutes.

Makes 8 scones

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