Mastering the Humble Scone

It’s time again to share another successful Daring Bakers challenge!  This time around Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers’ host.  Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (a/k/a biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens!

That’s right.  Scones in the rest of the world (as in not the U.S.) are the same thing as our biscuits.   Who would have known? (unless you’ve traveled to England, Ireland, or Australia of course.)  Well, let’s just say that during my time over in Europe, scones made a showing for quick breakfasts to-go while we were catching the morning bus to far-off places.  Usually I’d take the wholemeal versions and W would opt for the creamy white fluffs, like these.

Back in America, I’d mastered the perfect biscuit recipe yielding light and fluffy (and somewhat healthy) results.  But then gluten happened.  Or, shall I say, a reaction to gluten happened, and here I am with a challenge on hand that was more than enough challenge for the first month of the year and baking gluten-free!

I tried several recipes for scones–none of which began as gluten-free because I believe that everyone should have access to this recipe, not just those with special diets.  I did end up deciding that all of Audax’s wonderful work proved correct and she had developed (or discovered) the best basic recipe for the English scone or American biscuit that could be easily adaptable for me.  So I only tweaked my flours a bit, but left the remaining recipe the same for you to try.

Yep, I had a snack mid-shoot!

In the future, I will be creating a wholegrain version of these to satisfy my desire for texture and heft, but for now these do perfectly with a bit of rhubarb jam and a good strong cuppa.  And they will become my go-to for all those friends and fam that don’t share my desire for wholegrain!

And it was quite delicious.

Basic Scones (a.k.a. Basic Biscuits)

Serves about four.  Recipe can be doubled.

Ingredients:

1 cup (140 gm) all-purpose flour or 140 grams all-purpose gluten-free mix plus 3/4 tsp. xanthan gum

2 teaspoons (10 gm) fresh baking powder

¼ teaspoon (1½ gm) salt

2 tablespoons (30 gm) frozen grated butter

approximately ½ cup (120 ml) cold milk

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to very hot 475°F

2. Triple sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. (If your room temperature is very hot refrigerate the sifted ingredients until cold.)

3. Rub the frozen grated butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles very coarse bread crumbs with some pea-sized pieces if you want flaky scones or until it resembles coarse beach sand if you want tender scones.

4. Add nearly all of the liquid at once into the rubbed-in flour/fat mixture and mix until it just forms a sticky dough (add the remaining liquid if needed). The wetter the dough the lighter the scones (biscuits) will be!

5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, lightly flour the top of the dough. To achieve an even homogeneous crumb to your scones knead very gently about 4 or 5 times (do not press too firmly) the dough until it is smooth. To achieve a layered effect in your scones knead very gently once (do not press too firmly) then fold and turn the kneaded dough about 3 or 4 times until the dough has formed a smooth texture. (Use a floured plastic scraper to help you knead and/or fold and turn the dough if you wish.)

6. Pat or roll out the dough into a 6 inch by 4 inch rectangle by about ¾ inch thick. Separate into four equal portions and gently form into rounds.

7. Place the rounds just touching on a baking dish if you wish to have soft-sided scones or place the rounds spaced widely apart on the baking dish if you wish to have crisp-sided scones. Lightly flour the tops.

8. Bake in the preheated very hot oven for about 10 minutes (check at 8 minutes since home ovens at these high temperatures are very unreliable) until the scones are well risen and are lightly coloured on the tops. The scones are ready when the sides are set.

9. Immediately place onto cooling rack to stop the cooking process, serve while still warm.

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