Sunday, August 22, 2010

Blueberry Buttermilk Scones . . .

I can hardly believe that the new school year begins in just over two weeks. My younger son, the 14 year old, prefers that I refrain from even bringing up this topic. Whenever I happen to do so, he glares at me as if I've just suggested it might be fun to tour a maximum security prison.

He's going to be in the 9th grade, just entering high school, and the scuttlebutt he's heard regarding the increased homework load has him a little less than enthusiastic about the whole scenario. I suppose it's fear of the unknown that's driving his mood, and you know what they say  about that--our imagined fears are almost always far, far worse than any reality.  Luckily, he's a highly capable, intelligent kid and I know he'll be just fine but, in light of his frame of mind, I've decided to try and lay off the school-related comments for now. We'll let the illusion of endless summer continue on the home-front for a few more days. I figure it can't hurt.

So, in that spirit, and probably up until summer's officially packed it in, I'm going to keep on baking summery foods, like today's blueberry buttermilk scones. These are tender and mellow, just like a lazy summer afternoon.

Blueberry Buttermilk Scones

(For a printable version of this recipe, click here!)

2/3 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
3 and 1/2 cups All Purpose flour (I used unbleached)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt (if using kosher salt, add in a pinch extra)
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into chunks
1 egg, large
1 and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1/4 tsp. lemon extract
1 and 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen (I used frozen Maine blueberries; they're small and sweet)

3 Tbsp. melted unsalted butter, for brushing on the scones
3 Tbsp. coarse/sanding sugar, for sprinkling

In a small bowl, stir together the buttermilk, whipping cream, and lemon juice.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the large bowl of a food processor, blend the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda by pulsing quickly a few times. Add in the butter chunks, and pulse to form a coarse textured mixture. (Or, if you prefer not to use a food processor, do these two steps by hand, cutting in the butter with a pastry blender.) Dump all of this into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Into the well add the egg, the extracts, and the buttermilk mixture. Stir to make a soft dough. Fold in the blueberries and stir just to combine.

Dump the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead the dough gently a few times, incorporating more flour as needed until the dough is firm and no longer sticky.

Pat the dough out into a circle that's 1" thick all over. Using a pastry wheel or sharp knife, cut the dough into 8 to 12 wedges, like a pie. Place the pieces on the parchment covered baking sheet. Brush melted butter over the top of each piece and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake the scones for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Definitely best the first day, when they're very fresh. 

Recipe full disclosure! This recipe was adapted from one in Marcy Goldman's book, A Passion for Baking (2007, Oxmoor House). Her original recipe is for a blackberry-blueberry scone made largely with heavy cream, and topped with a honey and butter glaze. I changed the formula by using only blueberries, by reducing the amount of heavy cream and adding in buttermilk instead, by adjusting the extracts used, and by omitting the honey-butter glaze and opting for melted butter and coarse sugar on the top of the scones.

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