Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Cooks, Ill. "Perfect Blueberry Scones"

This blog post is part of Gracious Hospitality's blogathon. This week's topic: The Sweet and Savory of Yummy.

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!!

Cooks, Illustrated experimented with several scone baking methods and came up with this one as the best. The recipe is from Cooks, but I've made a few notations in green. The photos are ours.

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).

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 re-crisped, 8 to 10 minutes if refrigerated, 16 to 20 minutes if frozen. See final step for information on making the scone dough in advance.

Makes 8

  • 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

Rolling dough/berries

Cutting into triangles

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.


La Tea Dah said...

Yum, yum! Your blueberry scones look fantastic! I love the method --- kind of like a blueberry sandwich. It works so well at keeping the blueberries from coloring the dough purple! Thank you for a great tutorial! I loved all the instructions and the well-done pictures!

Thanks for sharing!

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Thank you for making these and providing the step by step directions and extra notations. Blueberry anything is my favorite and I will definitely be trying these.

Bigelow Tea said...

I love blueberry scones, especially with a cup of tea. Your's look delicious. Perhaps you'd like to try Pomegranate Muffins. See link for recipe...Julie for Bigelow Tea


Linda said...

I love blueberries! These scones look delicious!

AZ Tea Lover said...

These were fun to make! I used a pastry cloth (rather than the countertop) in case anyone was wondering. Definitely less sugar. They are plenty sweet and fluffy.

Charli and me said...

Your scones look great. I love the way you posted pictures to demonstrate how to make them. Great post.

Cori G. said...

I don't think I've ever refered to a scone as being gorgeous before but, THOSE SCONES ARE GORGEOUS! I can not wait to try the recipe. Thanks so much!OH, where did you stay in Tucson? I love the high desert.

parTea lady said...

These scones sound good and use quite an unusual preparation method. Blueberry scones are my favorite. I am so happy that U.S. berries are once again available. I have been enjoying them for the last two weeks. They are far superior to the berries grown in Chile.

Kathy said...

Your blueberry scones look fabulous! I can't wait to make them - the recipe is printing as I type!...Kathy@ Mimi's Garden

marye said...

Oh those look so good! I love blueberries!

Rosemary said...

Yummy recipe! Interesting technique. Thanks for sharing. Nancy

ellen b said...

Oh how wonderful and how helpful to show us the step by step in making them!! They look amazing...

Angela McRae said...

Wow, do these look delicious, and I wish I had one RIGHT NOW! Great tutorial photos, too!

Storybook Woods said...

I love how you handeled the dough. I will to try the recipe. Thank you. Clarice