How to Make Exceptionally Tender, Fluffy Scones
The next time you think about making flaky, buttery biscuits consider trying your hand at making scones—the biscuit’s slightly sweeter cousin—instead. Scones may sound fancy, but you want to know a little secret? If you know how to make biscuits, then you already know how to make scones. Scones are essentially biscuits that are leavened with baking powder, and often include sweet elements such as added sugar in the dough, fruits, jams, and glazes; however, scones can definitely walk on the savory side too.
In the spirit of finding ways to incorporate summer berries in nearly everything that I make right now, I decided to make a batch of berry-stuffed scones; more specifically, these Mixed Berry Scones with Lemon Ginger Glaze. In creating this recipe, I channeled the lessons I learned the very first time I made scones during my time working in a French bakery. The most important trick I picked up during that initial introduction to scone making is this: Freeze your berries before incorporating them into your scone dough. By using frozen berries, the butter in the dough is kept nice and cold while you are working with it. And really, cold butter is the key to great biscuits, scones, and pie dough. To make these scones, you can utilize the bag of frozen berries stashed in the back of your freezer for smoothies or simply freeze some of your farmers’ market bounty the night before you plan to bake. Now, here’s everything else you’ll need to know in order to make the fluffiest, tenderest scones you can imagine.
WATCH: How to Freeze Strawberries
Generally, your basic dough is a blank canvas to make whatever flavored scone that you desire. In my case, I chose to use a mix of berries. However, sliced peaches and cherries would also be great summer fruits to experiment with. The dough begins with creating a slurry that includes heavy cream, one egg, vanilla extract, and sugar. The slurry is set aside while you begin to work the butter into your all-purpose flour. Crumble the butter into the flour with the same motion that you would to make biscuits. The mixture should look mealy and be filled with pebbles of flour-coated butter. At this point, you’ll combine the flour-butter mixture with the slurry mixture to form a ball of dough.
Once your dough is formed, transfer it to a flat, lightly floured surface. Start by shaping the dough into a square with your hands. (Maintaining the dough's square shape throughout the entire process is important.) Use a rolling pin to flatten the square evenly until it is about ½-inch-thick and the size of a 9x9-inch baking pan. The best way to roll out the dough is to roll it in one direction while rotating at a 90-degree angle after a few passes.
I used an assortment of strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. Blueberries and raspberries can be frozen whole, and used whole in the scones; however, the strawberries should be sliced before freezing, instead of using them whole. When you have your fruits ready, add about ¾ cup in the center of your flattened dough arranging them in an even layer.
Fold each side of dough into the center as if you are closing the flaps on a box. This will completely enclose the fruits into the dough, creating a little package of dough-encased berries. Gently press into the dough to seal the edges and flip the entire package over. Use your rolling pin, gently roll the dough package until it is 1-inch-thick. You should start to see the fruit peek through the dough at this point. Use a sharp knife cut the dough into about 8 triangle-shaped pieces.
The Cream + The Glaze
The second trick that I use for scones is brushing the unbaked scones with heavy cream instead of a basic egg wash. The cream browns beautifully on the crust of the dough, creating a semi-glossy shine. Brush the scones with a few strokes of heavy cream and pop them into a 400° oven, baking for about 12 minutes (or until golden).
As the scones are baking, prepare a simple glaze to finish them off. I opted for a bright glaze—made with freshly grated ginger, lemon zest, lemon juice, and confectioners’ sugar—
to complement the buttery, berry-studded scones. You can play around with the thickness of the glaze by adding more or less confectioners’ sugar. When the scones come out of the oven, brush them with your glaze and enjoy.