A long time ago, back in the days of Wheaties and toast, America’s taste in breakfast pastry centered on muffins. Pop Tarts were the new kid on the block. Bagels had been out there forever, but only in urban pockets, where they were dense, chewy, and came in assorted varieties like plain and salt. I’m talking prehistory here, when your option for a cup of coffee was “regular” or “black.” Period.
Then came Starbucks, which in 1971 opened the first of its current 15,012 stores (in 44 countries) in Seattle. And the breakfast craze was on. Soon, Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte replaced the acrid black coffee so many of us forced ourselves to like in high school. And muffins and cinnamon rolls found themselves fighting for shelf space with… scones.
Yes, scones. I like to think we at King Arthur helped pioneer the scone craze in this country. We introduced our first scone mixes back in 1997, when they were virtually unknown among all but the most devoted and adventurous bakers. Since then, of the hundreds of mixes we sell, blueberry sour cream, cranberry orange, and cherry almond scone mixes are our three top-sellers.
Our scone mixes are a life-saver when time is of the essence. But I usually like to make my own scones. When I’m in a hurry, drop scones are easy as muffins. When I’m not in a rush, perfectly shaped wedges or circles can be a breakfast or tea centerpiece. Best of all, scones are the perfect blank slate on which to write imaginative flights of fancy.
Feeling festive? Looking for a holiday breakfast that goes way beyond Wheaties? Try these scones.
Let’s start with my favorite scone and pie crust flour, our Mellow Pastry Blend. It’s about 1 percentage point lower in protein (about 10.5%) than King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, making it a softer, “friendlier” flour for pastry. Can you use all-purpose? Sure. Your scones may just be a bit less tender.
And here’s another test kitchen secret (that’s not so secret since I keep talking about it all the time!): espresso powder. Notice this canister is well-used, testament to the constancy with which I grab it off the shelf
One final preparation: cut cold butter into small cubes.
So, now that we’ve staged our ingredients, let’s dive in. Mix the dry ingredients, and add the cubed butter.
Mix till everything is unevenly crumbly; you want some largish lumps to remain.
Grind or process pecans till they’re very finely chopped (but not pasty).
Add pecans and chips to the flour mixture.
Stir to combine. Add the espresso powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon water, plus the sour cream…
…then the ice water, enough to make a sticky dough.
Turn the sticky dough onto a well-floured work surface. As always, I like to use my silicone rolling mat; cleanup is a breeze.
Pat and roll the dough into an 8” to 9” circle about 3/4” thick.
Brush with milk or cream…
…and sprinkle with coarse white sparkling sugar.
Use a 2” to 2 1/4” cutter to cut out rounds.
Take the scraps…
…and shape them into a smooth, long rectangle. Cut the rectangle into 2 or 3 pieces, rounding the edges a bit to shape these final scones into rough circles. “Hey, you’re not supposed to cut on silicone, right?” Right. I cut just BARELY through the dough, being careful not to press hard on the silicone with my ceramic knife. You can also use a plastic knife, which is fine with silicone; I just happened to grab my Kyocera ceramic knife here, because I like it and use it for just about everything.
All hands on deck! Er, onto a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet.
Alternatively, you can bake the scones in a greased pan. This makes them a bit moister, as their edges won’t get quite as crusty. Twenty 2” scones will fill about three 8” round cake pans, but use whatever combination of pans you like.
Here they are, ready to pop into the oven.
And here they are, not QUITE done…
…and now, fully baked. Take a peek inside the center of one of the middle scones on the baking sheet; it should be cooked all the way through, not doughy or gummy.
Ahhhh….. a warm, crumbly scone, cinnamon chips and cappuccino chips, espresso and pecans… go all out, it’s the holidays!
Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for Cinnamon-Cappuccino-Pecan Scones.
Buy vs. Bake
Avg. bakery scone: 4 ounces
Buy: Bread Basket Family Bakery, Gahanna, Ohio, Cinnamon Chip Scone, $2.00
Bake at home: Cinnamon-Cappuccino-Pecan Scones, if made in 4-ounce scones, 73¢