Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Rich and Sweet Blueberry Scones

I love our lazy weekend breakfasts. Most mornings, a simple fried egg and piece of toast will suffice, but other days we require a more decadent morning meal, so we will lie in bed and flip through a cookbook or two, searching for that perfect breakfast pastry item that uses only things we already have on hand (so we don't have to go to the store, obviously, although, seeing as we live in a college town, I would not look the least bit out of place if I decided to waltz into the grocery store in pajama pants and slippers).

On this particular morning, we had almost all of the ingredients to make these amazing scones from America's Test Kitchen. We even had sour cream (not expired! imagine that!). It called for whole milk, which we didn't have, but equal parts half-n-half and nonfat milk made for an adequate substitute. We didn't have a lemon like it wanted, but we did have an orange, which I think went perfectly with the blueberries we used.

I'm so glad my sister and I went blueberry picking this summer.  For only $10, we picked about eight pounds of fresh, local blueberries. Into the freezer they went, and I've been having them on my cereal most weekday mornings since. I froze them (unwashed) individually on cookie sheets, then I put them into freezer bags in 2-cup increments. This way, I don't have to pull out a huge bag every time I just want a small handful.

A perfect morning: coffee, scone, and Barbara Kingsolver.

Rich and Sweet Berry Scones
adapted from America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book
makes 8 scones

Notes: You can use fresh or frozen raspberries, blackberries, or strawberries (hull and cut into 1/2-inch pieces) in place of the blueberries. Also, since I knew that my blueberries had not been rinsed yet, I quickly rinsed and dried them, then put them back in the freezer while we made the dough so they would still be frozen.  The key to getting these scones just right is to work the dough as little as possible and use cold ingredients, even chilling the bowls and the flour mixture if it's particularly hot.

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (do not defrost)
1/2 cup whole milk (or use 1/4 cup half-n-half and 1/4 cup nonfat milk like we did)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon grated fresh orange or lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

If you happen to have butter in the freezer already, hooray! If not, you need to put 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of the butter in the freezer for a bit until firm; this will make it easier to grate it in a later step. The Test Kitchen suggests freezing two sticks and just grating half of each, I assume because your hand warms up the end of the stick of before you can grate it.  Ours was already thoroughly frozen so we didn't have that problem.

Move an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Rinse your blueberries if needed and put them back in the freezer.

When the stick of butter is frozen, grate the butter with the large holes of a box grater.  Put back in the freezer until needed. Whisk the milk and sour cream together in a medium bowl, place in the refrigerator until needed.

In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, 1/2 cup of the sugar, baking powder, orange zest, salt, and baking soda. Add the butter that you just grated and use your fingers to gently combine.  Get the chilled milk mixture out of the fridge and fold it into the flour mixture with a rubber spatula until just combined (do not overmix).

Sprinkle flour over a clean surface and turn the dough out onto it. This dough will be very sticky, so lightly flour your hands, and sprinkle some on the dough too while you're at it. Knead the dough gently six to eight times until it holds together in a ragged ball, adding additional flour as needed.

Flour a rolling pin, and roll the dough out into a 12-inch square. Fold the top and bottom of the dough over the center (just like when you fold a business letter in thirds to go in an envelope).  Next, fold the sides of the dough over the center to form a 4-inch square. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured plate and place in the freezer for 5 minutes (do not overchill).

Transfer the dough back to the lightly floured surface and re-roll into a 12-inch square. Sprinkle the berries evenly over the surface, pressing them down lightly into the dough. Using a bench scraper or a thin metal spatula, loosen the dough from the work surface and roll into a tight log, pinching the seam closed. Lay the log seam side down and gently press into a 4-inch rectangle. Flour a chefs knife or other sharp knife and slice the dough in half crosswise, then slice each of those rectangles in half crosswise so you have four equal rectangles (4 in. x 3 in., if you want to get really precise). Slice each rectangle on the diagonal to create two triangles.  You should have eight triangles total.

Use the bench scraper again to gently place the scones onto the prepared baking sheet.  Melt the remaining two tablespoons of butter and brush it over the scones.  Sprinkle them lightly with sugar.  Bake for 18-25 minutes, until the scones are lightly golden brown on top, rotating the pan halfway through.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for at least 10 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Make ahead instructions:
Cut, unbaked scones can be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before baking as directed.  You could also freeze them unbaked, on a cookie sheet, covered, for about 6 hours, then transfer to plastic freezer bags and store for up to one month.  Bake the frozen scones at 375 F for 25-30 minutes.


  1. I LOVE scones...yum yum. These look great. Oh, and I saw someone getting coffee in their slippers today. :-)

  2. I love America's Test Kitchen!! They're the best! I was so used to rock-hard chewy, tough, dry, BLAND scones, but finally, I found a scone that’s buttery, tender, soft, and delicate. Mmm. Literally the best thing that I’ve made.

    I made mine with cinnamon chips and cinnamon sugar :D



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