Friday, March 27, 2009

The Search for the Perfect Cream Scone

One of the things we discovered while in London last week was the joy of an afternoon cream tea.
#73 - Cream Tea at The Parlour
A good cup of tea with milk & sugar plus current scones served with clotted cream & strawberry preserves. It was definitely the pick-me-up we needed after a long day of sightseeing.
Tea at The Wolseley Strawberry Preserves & Clotted Cream
When we got back home I decided to surprise Matt & bake him some fresh scones. The recipe I decided to use was from one of my favorite cookbooks, Small-Batch Baking. This recipe called for cream, egg & a lot of butter, a ton of butter, when I check them partway through cooking they were sitting in pools of melted butter.
Morning 80 - Cream Scones
They were tasty but a little doughy & struck as being more like a biscuit than a scone. So, that set me off on the search to find a scone recipe that would make them like we remembered.
My next stop was Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook. I figured Martha would have the perfect cream scone recipe, because she's Martha after all. This recipe called for butter, though less than the other recipe, and cream but no egg (except a little as an egg wash).
Searching for the perfect scone recipe
These babies really rose (they had both baking powder & baking soda in them) though very unevenly, & were really flaky.  They were even more like a biscuit then the last ones.
Next step was to check the web. I found this recipe which used only cream as the fat. It's almost exactly the same as the recipe used by Sara Moulton on the Food Network.
Search for the perfect scone III
This dough was so wet & sticky it was almost impossible to work with. The finished scones were more like sweetened bread than anything else. So, the baking continues....
I've gotten a few other recipe suggestions from some fellow foodies on Twitter, including Dorie Greenspan's recipe. I'm thinking scone 1 was the closest but the recipe just contains just too much butter perhaps I just need to modify it a bit. 
Do you have a favorite cream scone recipe?

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© 2007-2009 Kathy Lewinski

28 comments:

Elle said...

Wow, what dedication! I'm impressed. I hope you find just the ones you're looking for!

Elra said...

WOW Kat, this is unbelievable! Your scones look so fluffy and delicious. I must admit that I never made it successfully. I am impress!
Cheers,
elra

janefan said...

You should try http://www.joyofbaking.com/scones.html

I've made them a few times for my British Lit book club and they always turn out perfectly. Sweet, not overly buttery, dense but moist, not flaky or biscuity.

Jules said...

Cook's Illustrated "The Best Recipe" has a great cream scone recipe- give it a try.

Anonymous said...

The Cooks Illustrated scone recipe is REALLY tasty!

Laura said...

My favorite scone recipes come from "Breads of New England" by Judy Gorman. Also, I've always made my scones in large round loaves cut into wedges, rather than the biscuit cut rounds.

CaliGirl said...

You will love these, but yes, there is much butter involved: http://www.metrotimes.com/editorial/story.asp?id=7328

I like to add 1/4 c. dried cranberries, and forego the egg wash. They disappear at work within seconds.

Enjoy! :)

Dawn said...

I would love to know how the scones in london tasted? flaky and perfect? I bet you anything it's how they chilled the butter, then cut it up. I have a fairly good recipe for scones from CI, but they did not rise that high, but still the insides were light and buttery. I have to post them.

kat said...

Thanks for the suggestions everyone!

Dawn - The scones in London were that perfect cross between flaky & caky if that makes any sense. Almost like a cross between the first two I made & the third...

Stacy and Brian said...

Kat, I posed a scone recipe on my website a few months ago. Here is the link!
http://stacy-brian.blogspot.com/2008/12/recipe-of-week-quick-and-easy-cream.html
It's a Cooks Illustrated recipe and I think their stuff is great!

Foodycat said...

Definitely no egg. My best scone efforts have been following a recipe with a bit of buttermilk as the liquid. Rubbing the butter into the flour properly and handling it lightly are the secrets once you've found a good recipe really.

Puparazzi said...

I use the Joy of Cooking - Full cream recipe - no egg. Plus in a pinch - Costco World Market has a great just add water mix.

Anonymous said...

Hi,
I stumbled upon your blog and thought you might like to check out the "Joy of Baking" website for their scone recipes, and the other thought was to look up the Savoy hotel in London. They are renowned for their cream teas and might have a recipe posted.
Lynda

Anonymous said...

I want to be there for the tastings! Yum. Is there really such thing as "too much butter"?

Gale Reeves said...

Barefoot Contessa (Ina) has the BEST recipe for scones!

Beth said...

Glad you enjoyed the traditional clotted cream tea. I always use a recipe for scones that i found on bbcgoodfood.com. It never fails

k. said...

I don't know if you've heard of the chef James Martin, but his great recipe is here: http://uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/513117
He does some wonderful tradition British food, like scones, and is all over the telly here in the UK.

Grace said...

i wish i could help, but i'm anti-scone. good luck in your search. :)

Lori said...

Grace is anti-scone. That girl cracks me up.

I have always looked for the perfect scone recipe. Now I need to try the Cooks Illustrated version.

leedav said...

I want to try making the clotted cream!

toontz said...

Kat-
My favorite recipe: http://okaramountain.blogspot.com/2008/05/okara-apricot-scones-with-pecans.html

The original recipe is at the bottom of the post.

Sara said...

I admire your search. Good luck finding the scone recipe.

Karen Brown Letarte said...

I use Sara Moulton's recipe and I love it because it's so simple and versatile. I always make a 1/2 recipe, perfect for the 3 of us. The trick I use for handling the soft dough is to pat it out into a round right on the baking sheet, brush with the cream & sprinkle on the sugar, then I cut the round into 6 pieces, like a pie, and wiggle the knife to separate them into separate pieces. They usually come out perfect and very scone-y in my opinion. If they seem too sticky, I add a little flour while the dough is still in the bowl.

I'll be interested in the results of your quest for the perfect scone!

Anonymous said...

Hello! I just enjoyed reading about your scone-making adventures and thanks for the picture from London. I made blueberry scones for a Birthday Brunch for my daughter Elizabeth held just yesterday. I used a recipe I found on the internet. Several years ago I made scones using a recipe that said it was created by Martha Stewart. They were wonderful! Having lost that recipe I googled :blueberry scones by Martha Stewart and found the recipe. They call for cream and unsalted butter and not too much sugar. They were the talk of the party...and there was great food there! My aunts each asked to take an extra home and people raved about them. My daughter sent me a text today how one she took to work was "soooo delish, moist and blueberry-ish". Try them. They are easy to find and make. Make sure you put all the flour in and flour your board and hands before you turn them out to knead slightly.I experimented with the sugar on top, which you sprinkle after brushing with cream. Reg. sugar isn't noticeable and doesn't color the scones much. I mixed Demerara sugar and reg. sugar, which gave a little crunch and abit more color in later batches. I also added a little vanilla to later batches, but you don't have to. Next time I am going to look for the crystaline white sugar & try that.
Take care! Happy Baking & happy eating to both of you and everyone else. My children's grandparents lived in England and there Nana was Scottish, but I am Italian-American. Everyone enjoys scones!

Kassy said...

was that at The Wolseley?:)

kat said...

Kassy - The top picture was at Fortum & Mason & the two smaller were at the Wolseley

dawkins said...

Greetings from the UK! This is a good basic recipe: http://www.deliaonline.com/how-to-cook/baking/how-to-make-scones.html

If the dough is too flat they won't rise, and if it's rolled unevenly they'll be wonky - or 'homemade' as I prefer to call it. :)
We generally use self-raising flour here, which my American baking book adventures have shown me seems less common in the US.
One point on cream tea etiquette: coming from Devon, I reckon you spread the clotted cream on first, then add a dab of jam on top. Cornishmen would disagree, and reverse that order! More details here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A649235

Patti said...

I have made "Grandma Johnson's Scones" for several showers and a tea party, and everyone just raves about them. Not sure how traditional a scone they are, but they are definitely tasty...everyone online rates them 5/5.

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Grandma-Johnsons-Scones/Detail.aspx

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