Monday, March 10, 2014

buttermilk {bi}scones

Author's Note: In honor of the Family Breakfast Project, I am sharing seven days of easy family breakfast recipes. At the end of the week, I'll write about how the project went for our family. You can try it out too! Sign up for emails, click through on the web, or download the whole guide here

This post was shared with The Homestead Barn HopMYHSMand Real Food Wednesday.{Disclaimer: I am not being paid for sharing the program; I just think it's a great way to help you share breakfast with your family.}

I used to be afraid of making scones. Then I happened to mention my fear to a friend who knows I make biscuits on a regular basis, and she put my worries to rest. According to my friend, there was nothing different about the two. In fact, she said, making scones is even easier than biscuits.

And you know what? It turns out she was right! I should have known. When people express surprise that I make homemade biscuits, I am always quick to correct them on how simple the process is. Scones are similarly simple, except they don't even require the folding of dough to make layers. You can cut them straight out of the bowl if you want!

When were eating my first batch of scones, Nate asked me what was different to make them so much fluffier than scones he'd had in the past. I told him that my scones employ the same tricks as my biscuits, i.e. top rack of the oven, sifting cake flour, and using a tiny bit of lard. He said I should really call them "biscones." Upon hearing the word, I suddenly recalled I'd read the term "buttermilk biscones" once in a great Southern cookbook a while back. It guess the notion burrowed in my brain until I was ready to make scones a year later.

I have perfected a base for what I believe is the perfect scone recipe: not too sweet; healthful enough for a wholesome breakfast; and with just the right amount of biscuit-like fluffy, buttery texture. They are pure baked goodness. I am sharing this recipe with you today with the hope I can also pass along the courage to make them. Because they are so easy, it would be almost criminal for you to walk away from this post still believing scones are outside your skill level.

Like with my blank slate muffins, the combinations that can be made using this recipe are only as limited as your creativity. I'm sharing my four favorite flavors, but the sky's the limit!

buttermilk biscones (adapted from this Taste of Home recipe)
yield: 12 scones
total time: 30 minutes

2 c. white whole wheat flour*
1 c. cake flour**
2 Tbs. sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 c. (12 Tbs., a stick and a half) cold unsalted butter***, cut into small cubes
1 c. buttermilk (or milk + 1 Tbs. white vinegar or lemon juice)
(+ any fixin's, see list of ideas below)

*You can substitute all-purpose flour, but you won't detect this healthier alternative.
**Cake flour=sifted all-purpose flour with 1 Tbs. cornstarch per 1 c. flour.
***I substitute 2-3 Tbs. lard for some of the butter, which adds a great texture.

Fixin' Ingredients:
cranberry orange
1 c. fresh cranberries, chopped in food processor with 1 tsp. sugar (or 1 c. dried cranberries)
1 tsp. orange zest

ginger lemon 
3/4 c. crystallized ginger, coarsely chopped
1 tsp. lemon zest (approx. 1 lemon)
1/4 tsp. ground ginger

chocolate coconut 
3/4 c. flaked coconut (back off sugar in dough if using sweetened coconut)
1/2 c. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom (optional)

simply spicy
1 c. dried fruit (for adults, plump fruit with a bit of rum; for kids, boiling water)
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. white pepper

Glaze Ingredients (optional):
1/4 c. whole milk (or you can jazz it up by brewing Earl Grey tea in hot milk)
2 1/2 c. powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp. vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 400°. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda; cut in butter with a pastry cutter or fork until mixture is crumbly and butter is pea-sized. Stir in the buttermilk just until combined. Fold in the fixin's of your choice (Note: If you don't want to add anything else, the recipe is great as is, with maybe a dollop of clotted cream if you can get your hands on it)
  2. Turn dough onto a floured surface and divide it in half. Pat each half into a 6-in. circle. Cut each circle into six wedges. Separate wedges and place 1 in. apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. 
  3. (If you are glazing the scones, skip this step) Brush scones with milk and sprinkle them with sugar. 
  4. Bake at 400° on the top oven rack for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to a wire rack. 
(Optional) Glaze Directions:
  1. Whisk together milk, vanilla****, and powdered sugar in a small bowl. Dip warm scones in glaze by turning them upside down into the bowl; keep a firm grip on all sides with your hand to avoid dropping or crumbling the scone. 
  2. Return glazed scones to wire rack to drip and cool. Scones can be kept in an air-tight container on the counter for up to a week.
****If you're like The Pioneer Woman, you can make a better-looking glaze by using a real vanilla bean; but if you're in my house, ain't nobody got time for that.


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