Sunday, December 14, 2014

Bite-Size British Scones


From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...How times have changed! A year ago entertaining one or two dozen people wouldn't phase me. I had space enough to feed large groups of people, and meals and parties came together with ease. Here's the conundrum. Our new digs are much smaller and I have to be careful if we are doing anything larger than a dinner for six or eight. This week, I'm testing how many people we can comfortably squeeze into our condo. With one group of 12 and another even larger, I've decided to serve bite-size foods that will make it possible to feed folks without setting formal places at tables for which their is no room. A gathering on Wednesday is a "coffee" and, among other things, I'll be serving two types of miniature scones. One is American and the other is British. I found the recipe for British scones in Cook’s Illustrated magazine and with their help I was able to discern how the British version differs from our own. In a British scone, flour is sealed with fat, so gluten doesn't readily form and the dough can be kneaded with an abandon that would toughen the American variety. If you have a food processor, you'll find these currant scones a breeze to make. They'll take about 10 minutes of your time to assemble and just a bit longer than that to bake. I am happy to report they are delicious. I plan to serve these two-bite morsels while they are warm. I make and freeze these well ahead of serving and warm them, while still frozen, in a 300 degree oven for about 20 minutes before serving. I do hope you'll give this recipe a try. You won't be disappointed. Here is how the scones are made.




Bite-Size British Scones
...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Cook's Illustrated magazine

Ingredients:
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) of softened butter cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3/4 cups dried currants
1 cup whole milk
2 eggs

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 500 degrees F and place rack on the upper-middle position.
2) Line 2 rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Measure out all ingredients.
3) In your food processor, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and pulse until combined {5-7 pulses). Add butter to dry ingredients and pulse about 20 times, or until butter is incorporated and mixture resembles sand. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Mix currents into flour mixture and using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon stir until currents are coated with flour mixture.
4) Whisk milk and eggs together in a small bowl. Remove 2 tablespoons of mixture to a custard cup for later use. Pour remainder of liquid (14 tablespoons) into dry ingredients, folding together with rubber spatula or wooden spoon until just incorporated. The dough will be wet and sticky.
5) Turn dough onto a heavily floured surface, gather it into a ball and knead it 25 to 30 times, or until it forms a smooth ball. Using a floured wooden rolling pin, roll dough into a circle 1 to 1-1/4-inch thick. Use a floured round 1-3/4-inch cutter to shape scones. Gather dough scraps, form into ball, and roll out again to use all dough scraps.
6) Brush tops of scones with reserved 2 tablespoons of milk and egg mixture.
7) Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees F and bake scones for 10-15 minutes, rotating halfway through baking, or until scones are golden brown. Transfer to wire cooling racks for at least 10 minutes before eating. Serve with preserves and butter. Yield:about 32 bite-sized scones.

Cook's Note: Scones can be stored in a airtight container and re-heated at 350 degrees for 5 minutes before eating.

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8 comments :

Lesleyc said...

Mary, I'm British and we're told never to handle the dough too much, it needs to be on the wet sticky side, which makes for beautifully raised scones. Also, when cutting out don't wiggle the cutter as that seals the dough which doesn't allow it to rise as it should I was taught by my mother-in-law who was the absolute master, I have never tasted scones as good as hers, they were light and fluffy and almost 3" high. I've watched America's Test Kitchen and read Cooks Illustrated here in the UK but where British scones are concerned, please, please try a recipe by Mary Berry or Delia Smith, the BBC Good Food site is also a very good source - but please no heavy kneading! Best wishes for the Holiday season.

Mary Bergfeld said...

Lesley, thanks so much for your suggestions. I'll look into the other sources you have recommended and do some test comparisons. I do hope you'll try an American cream scone. They are awfully good :-)
Hugs and Christmas blessings...Mary

Claire, UK said...

Also British, also gasped in horror at the thought of kneading scone dough! I definitely recommend Delia's scones, especially these buttermilk ones and Felicity Cloake did a great article about How to Make the Perfect Scone.

Mary Bergfeld said...

Claire, I'll make some time today to read the Cloake article. I won't be able to test and compare until after the holidays, but do know that I'm always in the market for new or better ways to do things. Thanks for your input and suggestion. Hugs and Christmas blessings...Mary

Tammy said...

These look quite lovely, Mary. I love the golden color. These would be perfect with a pat of butter and hot cup of tea. Nothing is better on a cold winter's day.

xo
Tammy<3

We Are Not Martha said...

I love that you're making both British and American scones. I'd be interested to try a side-by-side comparison! These ones look yummy :)

Sues

Rambling Tart said...

These are so pretty with their golden, glossy tops. :-)

Julie McLaren said...

I'm another Brit agreeing with Lesley and Claire. When ATK aired this episode I nearly fell out of my chair when they did so much kneading of the dough. That's a complete no-no in the UK. Don't know if that might be more to do with the fact that most British cooks use self-raising flour (no equivalent in the USA). I haven't tried this recipe but intend to do so to find out if they come anywhere close to the real thing.

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