Small but mighty scones

Scones are easy to mas­ter, and make sim­ple but might­ily de­li­cious teatime treats.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TASTE - By WEN­DELL BROCK

WET, sticky dough freaks me out. I get it on my hands, and I can’t get it off. Do I wash, wipe, scrape or scream? Never mind that you only need to add flour. I melt down ev­ery time. And it is this fear of but­tery slodge, I be­lieve, that has kept me from bak­ing scones and bis­cuits.

My at­ti­tude changed re­cently when I tasted my neigh­bour Au­drey Gatliff’s adorable lit­tle pis­ta­chio-en­crusted and strawberry-and­cream scones. I thought: “If I could make scones this good, maybe I could con­quer my fear of wet dough.”

A su­per-ta­lented, self-taught baker, Gatliff cre­ates de­li­cious cook­ies, can­dies, bars and other good­ies and sells them un­der the name of Tiny Buf­falo Bak­ing Co. Over the hol­i­days, she as­sem­bles gift boxes tucked with seasalted caramels, cook­ies, gra­nola and scones. Her dainty tri­an­gu­lar scones are ir­re­sistible with a cup of tea or cof­fee, their diminu­tive stature a trib­ute to her be­lief that sweets can be de­light­fully in­dul­gent, but sen­si­bly pro­por­tioned.

“Scones are easy to throw to­gether and don’t have to be large, crumbly and flavour­less,” Gatliff says, re­fer­ring to the dry squares that give scones a bad name. With de­grees in con­sumer foods and di­etet­ics from the Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia, this 28-year-old ar­ti­san baker has thought long and hard about her phi­los­o­phy of “small but mighty”.

A per­fec­tion­ist with a quiet streak, she spends many hours tweak­ing her recipes and ob­sess­ing over flavour pro­files. (Cur­rently, she is on a quest for honey cin­na­mon and pear car­damom.)

Gatliff’s trick is cold dough made with cold but­ter: Ev­ery tray of scones is chilled in the freezer for 30 min­utes be­fore bak­ing. (If you don’t want to make a full batch, wrap the scones in plas­tic and leave them in the freezer un­til ready to bake.)

Gatliff also sug­gests that you aren’t overly kneady, which can re­sult in a “tougher end prod­uct”. Fi­nally, she likes to add a glaze to moisten the scones and seal in fresh­ness.

For this ar­ti­cle, Gatliff cre­ated two de­lec­ta­ble scones made with sea­sonal in­gre­di­ents – pecans, ap­ples and figs. Her Fig and Mas­car­pone Scones are sweet­ened with maple syrup and shaped into rus­tic free-form pas­tries. Her Ap­ple Pe­can Cin­na­mon Scones are del­i­cate lit­tle tri­an­gles per­fumed with ap­ple pie spices (cin­na­mon, nut­meg and gin­ger), driz­zled with ic­ing and show­ered with toasted pecans. Both are lovely to look at and taste just won­der­ful.

As I was de­vel­op­ing this story, I re­mem­bered that At­lanta ac­tress Jill Jane Cle­ments once sent me a recipe for cran­berry and orange scones. While most scones re­quire but­ter (for flak­i­ness) and egg (as a binder), th­ese “light” scones are moist­ened with cream and brushed with but­ter, and that’s it. “They freeze per­fectly, and I have yet to have any­one not think they were the best scones they ever had,” Cle­ments told me in an e-mail.

My only prob­lem was – you guessed it – sticky dough. Cle­ments’ recipe called for 1¼ cups of cream, which made for moist and ten­der scones. But the dough was too soupy for my squea­mish hands, so I cut the cream to a half cup, and the scones came out great.

While many scone-ists like adding fruit, nuts, choco­late and other flavours to scones, one who does not is food writer Mark Bittman. His clas­sic scones are proper English bis­cuits meant to be served with jam and clot­ted cream. The trick be­hind th­ese light and ethe­real scones is cake flour. Ev­ery time I do them, they bake like a dream. And be­cause you mix them in a food pro­ces­sor and use just enough cream to form the dough into a ball, you won’t find your­self floun­der­ing around the kitchen with but­tery dough stuck be­tween your fin­gers. – The At­lanta Jour­nal-Con­sti­tu­tion/McClatchy-Tri­bune In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices

an as­sort­ment of scones in­clud­ing Orange and cran­berry Scones, Fig and mas­car­pone Scones, clas­sic scones, and ap­ple-Pe­can-cin­na­mon Scones. — mcT

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