When I recently visited Tucson, I was treated to these "Perfect Blueberry Scones" from a Cooks, Illustrated recipe (July, 2007). I had stumbled across the recipe when perusing the magazine at my library, and sent a copy to AZ Tea Lover. I hadn't made them yet, so it was a very special treat to try these with my friend! And they were fantastic!!
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. (This trick about grating the butter worked very well! It's the melting butter/air pocket combo that makes the marvelous light texture of these scones.) In hot or humid environments, chill the flour mixture and work bowls before use. While the recipe calls for 2 whole sticks of butter, only 10 tablespoons are actually used (see step 1).
- 16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), frozen whole (see note above)
- 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (about 7 1/2 ounces), picked over
- 1/2 cup whole milk (AZ Tea Lover used rice milk and it worked fine)
- 1/2 cup sour cream (AZ Tea Lover used reduced fat sour cream and it worked fine)
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces), plus additional for work surface
- 1/2 cup sugar (3 1/2 ounces), plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling (AZ Tea Lover used a combination of sugar and cinnamon for sprinkling; in addition, we all agreed that these scones were very sweet - we would use less sugar, maybe half, next time)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
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. (This is so that you don't scrape your knuckles as you grate the butter.) 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.
Grating the butter
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.
Butter bits in flour (not yet mixed)
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.
Dough just turned out of bowl; as indicated in step 3, a little extra flour was needed
4. Roll dough into approximate 12-inch square. Following illustrations, 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.
Dough, after rolling
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.
Adding the blueberries
6. Brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon sugar (AZ tea lover used cinnamon sugar). Bake until tops and bottoms are golden brown, 18 to 25 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool 10 minutes before serving.
Onto the stone and into the oven
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.