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Scones aren’t just for fancy people…
These scones are a favorite of mine because they go great with a cup of smokey coffee like Peet’s Major Dickason’s blend, or Philz Tantalizing Turkish. They’re buttery, light, and perfect to include with your weekend breakfast spread. I add surprisingly little sugar to the dough, so most of their sweetness comes from what I consider to be the best frozen
blueberries on the market today. *Read more about my favorite blueberries below.*
Scones are the first cousins to biscuits because the method is much the same. No matter what type of flour, ratio of fat to liquid, or amount of sugar you include, its all in vain if you don’t focus on your method. But don’t be nervous, practice makes perfect!
Although you can use two knives or a pastry cutter to disperse the butter throughout the flour mixture, I prefer to do it by hand. For one, it means having less “uni-tools” in my kitchen, but also because I can feel the size of crumb I’m creating. That is my preference and they way I learned in culinary school, but it’s up to you. Because my hands run a little on the warm side, I like to use a clean glove when I cut in the butter.
*Chef’s tip* -Remember, the best tools in your kitchen are your two hands!
So, other than getting the proper sized butter pieces dispersed through the flour, the most important part of the technique is to not overwork the dough after you add the liquids. You don’t want to develop the gluten in the flour which causes the scones to be dense and tough. This gets me to my next deterrent from making buttery, crave-able biscuits/scones.
I need a rolling pin, right? No! To drop or roll; Which is the answer?
The reason I didn’t make biscuits or scones often in the past was because of the mess made from rolling out the dough. Often, I don’t have time for the full production of dusting the counter with flour, dirtying a rolling pin (and myself if we are being honest), then still needing to scrub everything down once the biscuits are finally baking.
Using a “drop” method is my favorite way to avoid the tornado of flour in my kitchen, and the inevitable allergy attack that appears after standing in a cloud of flour. Traditionally, you do this by using two spoons, scraping the dough from one with the other. Instead, I like to use my handy ice cream scoop because it’s faster, makes more uniform rounds, and doesn’t run the chance of developing that annoying gluten.
Frozen Blueberries, does it matter which brand?
I have sampled many brands of blueberries ranging from Trader Joe’s to Whole Foods, and from Dole to “O” Organics. I’ve tried conventional, and I’ve tried organic. Why go through all of this? Well, they are a staple in my freezer for smoothies, to throw in oatmeal, or for a quick compote to pour over pancakes. But, most brands need a decent amount of sugar to be added to bring out the barely there fragrance and flavor of the berries. To my delight, I’ve found an exception to the underwhelming parade of frozen blueberries that’s passed through my freezer.
Cascadian Farms Organic Blueberries are the (fairly overpriced) answer to my blueberry woes. Although the bag is small, it packs a punch with large, plump, SWEET berries. Frozen berries are frozen the same day as they’re picked, sometimes flash-frozen out in the fields. They’ll give you a truer blueberry flavor than a pint that could’ve been sitting at the store for a week. Don’t believe me? Try them for yourself, you’ll see what I mean. As my grandfather always said, “It is better to have a little of the best than a lot of something average.”
*Make ahead note: I love to make these and freeze half of them. Its only my hubby and in our house, so we can’t possibly eat 12 of these at once. Well, I could…but…
Low sugar, Whole Wheat Blueberry Scones with Lemon Balm or Mint
Makes 12 scones
- 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 2.5 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup sugar (I like organic)
- 6 tbsp COLD unsalted butter, small cubes
- 1.25 cups frozen blueberries, DO NOT THAW
- 3 tbsp minced fresh lemon balm or mint
- 1/2 cup fat free half & half
- 1 large egg
Preheat oven to 400° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Sift the pastry flour. Don’t skip this! Whisk together with the baking powder, salt, and sugar.
- Add in the cubed butter and rub into the flour until it looks like coarse meal. I use a gloved hand to not melt the butter and do it manually. But you can use two knives or a pastry cutter.
- In a small bowl, lightly whisk the egg to break up yolk. Whisk in the half & half and set aside.
- Pour the blueberries (still frozen) and lemon balm/mint over top of flour mixture. Pour in half of the egg mixture and using your hand, or a large spatula begin to gently fold everything together. *Scones, like biscuits are all about the method. Be gentle so you don’t develop the gluten and end up making dense hockey pucks. But you still need to work quickly enough to not let the butter melt. The cold from the frozen blueberries will buy you a little extra time if you are new at this method.*
- Add in the remaining egg mixture until all the the flour, especially on the bottom of the bowl, is incorporated into the dough.
- Using an ice cream scoop or two large spoons, drop the 12 scones onto prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops are very lightly browned. They’re best right out of the oven, but if you can’t eat them all at once, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Reheat in a 250° oven for a few minutes.
*Make ahead note: I love to make these and freeze half of them. Its only my hubby and in our house, so we can’t possibly eat 12 of these at once. Well, I could…