Today the sun is out in full force. The air is warm. The snow that fell last weekend is melting at a rapid pace. Stepping outside you can believe that spring is near.
This week brings Brigid's Day, a day to honor the old Celtic goddess of hearth and home who was later added to the cannon of Catholic saints. Whether you honor the saint or the goddess, this is a time of year to take care of the home and start planning for the rest of the year to come. I marked the occaision by baking scones. This was my first attempt, and I found a nice, straightforward recipe in the same book that re-taught me how to make biscuits - Nick Maglieri's Bake!, a book that is fast becoming my baker's bible.
Like his biscuit recipe, Maglieri's scones require no chilling and no rolling. The flaky texture comes from pusling the ingredients ing the food processor and then lightly working the dough by hand, leaving chunks of cold butter that turn into little air pockets as the scones bake. The recipe also calls for cream cheese, which gives them a slightly sweet and tangy flavor as well as some additional body so the scones come out light and moist rather that dry and crumbly. This is a base recipe, and once you mater it, you can easily add things like dried fruit or chopped nuts to it.
For Malgieri's basic scones you will need:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp baking poder
3/4 tsp salt
4 ounces (about half a brick) cream cheese, cut into smaller peices
6 Tbsp unslated butter, also cut into smaller peices
2 cold eggs
1/3 cup cold whole milk
Place a rack int he middle of the oven, preheat it to 425 F and prep a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Mix the dry ingredients and set aside.
Place the metal blade in your food processor and add the cream cheese, butter, and eggs. Pulse until just combined. He notes that this should take 6-8 times and the mixture should look curdled. It took about a dozen pulses for me.
Scrape the sides of the bowl. Then add the dry ingredients and the milk and pulse another 6-8 times. At this point the mixture will look like small peas.
Carefully invert the bowl onto a floured board and gently work by hand, folding the dough on itself several times until it is smooth.
From here, split the dough into two equal sized sections and form them into flat disks about 6 inches in diameter. Place them on the prepped cookie sheet about 3 inches apart. Cut each disk into 8 triangles, cutting about half-way through the dough. I used my bench scraper and just cut right through the middle four times to get my 8 triangles.
Bake until the dough has risen and the scones are a deep golden brown. He says 15 minutes, but it took about 20 in my oven.
Let them cook on a wire rack for a few minutes. Then finish cutting the triangles. I ended up with 16 scones that were beautiful and delicious. I will leave one on the hearth on Monday night for Brigid and I will begin counting the days until spring.