I was going to write a blog post about the fancy cake I made for my birthday. I love making fancy cakes, and every year I pick my cake of choice out two to four weeks in advance and read the recipe over a few times a week to make sure I have it down. But other than “look at this awesome cake I made” —
— I don’t really have much to say about it. I love the logistics management involved in making a fancy cake to organize the production of the cake layers, the buttercreams, and the ganaches, but all I really do is follow the recipe and pay attention to details. This recipe is from a blog called Annie’s Eats, where I get 90% of the cake recipes I use. Click here for the recipe.
No, to me, the recipes that are the most interesting are the ones that I don’t have to look at. The ones I know by heart. For me, one of those is Irish Tea Scones. No matter what city, state, or country I’ve lived in, making a batch of these makes me feel like I’m at home.
The ingredients are pretty easy to come by wherever you are, although it took some figuring to try to find baking powder in Honduras. Polvo de hornear is the standard baking powder-esque ingredient there, which I finally figured out (thanks, Mom!) was a mixture of baking powder and baking soda. And that worked just fine for the purposes of making these scones.
2 cups of all purpose flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 tablespoon of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
4 tablespoons of butter
1/3 cup of milk
1/2 cup of raisins
For glaze: 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of milk
To start, mix all the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) together in a large bowl. Blend well. Then cut in the butter.
If you don’t know how to cut in butter, well, it’s pretty easy. I use this fancy pastry cutter that my mom got me.
It also works really well for making guacamole.
You can also use two knives, or just plunge your clean, dry hands into the mix and crumble up the clumps of butter. The idea is just to combine the butter with the dry ingredients, and make sure that you don’t have butter pockets floating around somewhere, just waiting to sabotage your dough.
Then make a well in the middle of the mixture.
In a separate bowl, beat together the 2 eggs and the 1/3 cup of milk. Or, if you’re feeling tired, don’t. Just dump them in the well separately. It’ll probably be okay. Stir well. I usually take a wooden spoon, dip it in my flour jar, and then start stirring. Once the mixture starts to come together and using a spoon becomes annoying, I coat my hands in flour* and knead and mix at the same time. Once the dough has come together, dump the raisins in and knead/mix some more. If you’re someone who managed to stick with the spoon the whole time, ditch it now and either knead in the bowl 5 to 10 times or turn the dough out onto a floured cutting board and knead there five to ten times.
*I just turned to Josh and said, “isn’t it funny that ‘flower’ the plant and ‘flower’ the grain are spelled the same way?” Then I realized that I had lost my mind for a moment and forgotten how homophones work. Yes, I work with words for a living.
Some people like their scones in triangles. Me? I like ’em round. This recipe is intended to make eight scones, so I split the dough in half, then in half again, and then in half again. Voila — eight more or less equal portions. I roll them into balls and put them on a cookie tray.
Then, mix the egg and the 1 tablespoon of milk together and use a pastry brush to lightly brush the tops of the scones. I am ultra paranoid about starting fires in the oven (yes, this makes no sense), so I am always very careful not to drip any of the glaze onto the baking sheet. It’s not that anything is going to go wrong if you do, but it will make a burning smell and possibly freak you out. If you’re like me.
Fun fact: before I had a pastry brush (thanks, Mom!), I used to use a toothbrush to do this. Not the same one I used to brush my teeth.
You will not even come close to using up this amount of egg wash. I hate wasting food, so I usually scramble the remainder and have a tiny scrambled egg.
Then it’s time to bake! I really cannot give you a whole lot of guidance on this part. I bake them at 400 degrees and supposedly I bake them for 7 to 10 minutes, but they usually end up needing about 15 minutes. Sometimes I make the scones a lot bigger and they need 20 – 25 minutes to bake. I read an article recently that pointed out how unreliable oven temperatures are anyway, so the best advice I can give you to bake them until they’re done. Which means a lightly browned top and no dense zones when you cut one open. I always cut one open to see how it looks. If it’s not yet done, I shove the two halves back together, pretend nothing happened, and put the tray back in the oven for a few more minutes. If you make your scones in triangles, they will cook more quickly.
To me, the raisins are the most classic way to make scones. But you can put anything in them. Some of my favorite things are chocolate chips; tiny cubes of cheese and chopped up chives; dried cranberries; and dried cherries with dark chocolate. Not all together. Those are four separate iterations, for the record.
I like to put butter on my scones and/or dip them into coffee or black tea.
It’s raining, it’s 50 degrees after the hottest summer ever, and I have a scone and some coffee. Life is good.