Scones for Breakfast, In ‘Oz’ or at Home
Something Sweet to Go With Tea
I have never been a fan of the traditional American breakfast. Although I enjoy frying, poaching and scrambling eggs for others, I don’t like eating them. One of my most memorable breakfasts was served in the dining car of a Russian train as we headed from Mongolia to Siberia. When I saw that everyone around me was eating crispy fried eggs, served in shallow metal bowls, I asked the waiter if there was anything, other than eggs, that I might have for breakfast. The waiter shrugged and said that there was only chicken soup. Chicken soup sounded great to me, and since I was in Russia, I asked if there might be some caviar as well. He nodded and returned with my soup and a plate with a lump of caviar and a slice of dark bread. This unconventional breakfast was the best meal I had in Russia. If I can’t have caviar and chicken soup for breakfast, a minimal meal of a sweet pastry and a cup of tea gets my day started with a smile.
With a supply of scones in the freezer, pulling breakfast together is as quick as brewing a pot of tea and zapping a scone in the microwave. This week, I added fresh cranberries and pecans to the batter. These scones are sweet, have the texture of cake and are the American cousins of English scones that are often dotted with currants and served with clotted cream and jam. Here’s how I did it:
Cranberry Pecan Scones
3 cups flour
1 ∕ 3 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cups unsalted butter, cold and cut in 1/2 inch dice
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 cup fresh cranberries, chopped
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
I used a food processor to combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt before I added the butter. I pulsed the machine until the mixture was the consistency of coarse crumbs, and then poured it into a large mixing bowl, added the buttermilk, orange rind, cranberries and pecans. I kneaded the dough until the nuts and cranberries were evenly distributed, then formed the dough into two, 1-inch -thick discs. I cut each disc into six wedges. I baked the scones on a parchment-lined baking sheet until the tops began to brown, about 12 minutes in a 425 degree oven. This recipe made a dozen scones. Frozen scones are ready to eat after they have been wrapped in a paper towel and zapped for 25 seconds in the microwave.
A couple of weeks ago, I was missing my son Matthew, who’s living in London, so I made a batch of English scones, whipped some cream, dished out the strawberry jam and nibbled on them while we chatted on the phone. Here’s how I did it:
2 ∕ 3 cup heavy cream
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup currants
I combined the heavy cream, egg and sugar in a small bowl and set it aside. I put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in my food processor and pulsed it to combine the ingredients. Then, I added the butter to the dry ingredients and pulsed the mixture again until the dough looked like coarse meal. I poured in the cream mixture and pulsed the mixture. When the dough began to form a ball, I tipped it onto a lightly floured board, sprinkled the currants and kneaded until they were evenly distributed. I flattened the dough into a three-quarter inch thick disk, used a biscuit cutter to form individual scones and baked them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment for 15 minutes in a 400 degree oven.
When I wanted quick scones to serve with dinner last weekend, I made lemonade scones using a recipe I got from my friend Robyn. She is from Oz, (that’s what she calls Australia), and the lemonade called for in this recipe is actually fizzy lemonade. Bitter lemon soda works perfectly. Here’s how I did it:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 ∕ 3 cup heavy cream
1 ∕ 3 cup bitter lemon soda
I used a fork to combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl and then added the heavy cream and bitter lemon soda. I tipped the sticky dough onto a floured board, formed it into a 1-inch-thick disk and cut it into eight pieces. I put the scones onto a greased baking sheet, sprinkled them with granulated sugar. After 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven, the scones were ready.
When I am making scones in a kitchen without a food processor, I use a whisk to combine the dry ingredients and a pastry blender or two knives to cut the butter into the dry mixture.
Whether you make them sweet or savory, pronounce it skan or skoon, or call them bannock, tattie or girdle scone as they do in Scotland, farl as they do in Ireland, or puftaloons as some Australians do, they are delightful at breakfast, tea time and dinner whether you are traveling or snuggled up at home.
Carol Egbert lives in Quechee, where she paints and cooks. Her food blog can be found at www.carolegbert.com.