I love these tender, flaky “Blueberry Scones” and can’t get enough of them. I have several quarts of blueberries in my freezer remaining from last summer’s backyard blueberry crop. So whenever I see an idea for using blueberries, I’m ready to try the recipe. A blueberry scone recipe in our local newspaper insert caught my attention. I have become pretty good at making homemade biscuits. Scones are similar — just a richer version. This recipe is delicious and easy to make because of several short cuts and tips that I learned while baking many batches of biscuits. I can prepare this recipe in just a few minutes. Here is how I made these melt-in-you mouth scones.
I associate scones with England, Scotland and the British Isles. I can just picture the Queen of England being served scones with afternoon English “cream tea.” If fact, the reference below pictures the Queen eating scones with white gloves on! Count me out on that idea. Actually, scones of some sort are found in many countries around the world. They can be round or pie-shaped; sweet with additions such as raisins, currants or savory with additions such as cheese and jalapenos. And these delicate pastries are becoming more familiar to Americans — who can go into a Starbucks or another coffee shop without noticing the scones.
As a comparison for those of us living in the South, scones are similar to biscuits. Both are quick breads. This means that the leavening agent is baking powder which allows the pastry dough to rise quickly. In contrast, yeast doughs are much slower to rise. Another similarity between scones and biscuits is how the dough is made. The shortening is “blended” into the dry ingredients so that bits of shortening result about the size of small peas. When the dough is rolled out, the shortening is smashed into small layers with the flour. This results in flaky layers as the scones or biscuits bake and pop up resulting in a tender pastry. You should actually be able to peel off the layers of the baked pastry.
The main difference between scones and biscuits is that scones are sweeter and richer with sugar, butter and eggs and sometimes cream added. Both pastries can have lots of other flavors and seasonings added. I’m adding blueberries to my scones and then icing them with a lemon confectioners’ sugar glaze.
Tips and Tricks for Making Biscuits and Scones
Making biscuits and scones can be a little tricky. I have had plenty of flops along the way. With practice, it is possible to make these pastries easily at home. Here are some tips which I have learned both to simplify the recipe and perfect my technique.
For ingredients, I use Gold Metal Self-Rising flour rather than all-purpose flour and baking powder. I never have a problem with scones/biscuits rising when using this brand of self-rising flour. Plus, it is simpler than measuring out flour, baking powder and baking soda and salt. Just measure out how much self-rising flour you need, the baking powder and salt are already there. And this brand doesn’t leave a bitter aftertaste in the biscuits which can be a problem when using flour and baking powder containing aluminum.
Biscuits and scones are made with either milk, buttermilk or cream. For simplicity, I have substituted cultured buttermilk powder and water. I store buttermilk powder in my refrigerator, no need to worry about expired milk or buttermilk or having to make a special trip to the store to purchase buttermilk.
For these scones, I’m using butter as the shortening. However, when making biscuits, I use Crisco baking sticks. I used frozen blueberries. However, you could also substitute fresh blueberries — but you must freeze them first. To do this, rinse, pat dry and spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze.
I used a food processor to make these scones, but it also is very easy just to use the “old-fashioned” method and use two forks to cut the shortening into the flour.
Here are some other tips and techniques:
- Do not to cut in the butter into too small-sized chunks. The butter pieces should be about the size of small peas. The idea is that the flour coats the shortening pieces. When you roll out the dough, layers of flour and shortening should be the result.
- Biscuit/scones need to be kneaded just a bit to make them properly. However, do not over-knead the dough. The dough may be a little sticky; however, you also don’t want to add too much flour which results in a hard dough.
- Let the dough “rest” on the pastry board before trying to roll it out; this helps reduce stickiness.
- Keep everything cold. Keep the butter cold, use ice water.
- Chill the scones in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes prior to baking. They should feel almost frozen.
- When cutting out the round biscuits or scones, don’t twist the biscuit cutter or knife. This seals the sides of the biscuit/scone dough and they won’t rise as well.
- Turn the cut biscuits upside down when placing them on the baking sheet. I don’t know why, but this makes an amazing difference
- Don’t use a rolling pin to roll out the scones/biscuits. Rather, I pat them out with my hands.
- Place the biscuits on an unoiled baking pan. Or place them on parchment paper. Placing them on a oiled baking pan may lead to a burnt biscuit. If you don’t have parchment paper, cut up a brown paper bag. (Now you know why you saved all those Whole Foods paper shopping bags.)
Making the recipe:
Here are my scones in progress. First, blend together the self-rising flour, dry buttermilk powder and sugar in a food processor. Then “pulse” the chilled butter into smaller chunks the size of very small peas. Only three or four “pulses” are needed to get the right consistency. Next, add the egg and ice water and process until the dough begins to form into a ball and pull away from the sides of the food processor bowl. Transfer to a floured pastry board. The dough is soft, add additional flour if it is too sticky. Let the dough “rest” on the pastry board for a few minutes and up to10 minutes. Then knead by hand just enough to mix in the blueberries.
Pat the dough out into a circle about 1-inch in height. (I don’t use a rolling pin.) Cut into eight pieces. Transfer to a parchment paper on a baking sheet and freeze for ten minutes.
Then bake in a hot 400 degree oven for 15 minutes..
Remove form oven and cool slightly. Arrange on serving platter. If desired drizzle on lemon confectioner’ sugar glaze.
While the English are enjoying scones with hot tea, I’ll enjoy mine with a cup of coffee. After all, I’m in Louisiana where coffee rules! These are delicious — and better than Starbucks!
I hope these tips will help you make perfect scones the first time and avoid some of the flops which I have made. Using self-rising flour and dry buttermilk powder definitely helps make the process simpler. These scones so tasty, it is worth learning to make this pastry.
- 2 cups Gold Metal Self-Rising flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp powdered buttermilk blend
- 6 Tbsp cold butter, cut into chunks
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup ice water
- flour, up to 1/4 cup for dusting the pastry board
- 1 cup frozen blueberries, (If using fresh blueberries, rinse, sort, pat dry and place on a single later on a baking sheet or plate and place in freezer until blueberries are frozen.)
- lemon confectioners’ sugar glaze, optional
Instructions and Steps:
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or substitute cut side of brown paper bag.)
- In a large food processor bowl, pulse together the self-rising flour, sugar and powdered buttermilk blend.
- Add the cold butter chunks. Pulse several times until the butter is the size of small pea-sized crumbs.
- In a small bowl, whisk the egg until blended. Pour in the ice water and whisk to combine.
- Add the egg/water mix to the dry ingredients in the food processor bowl. Pulse until the egg/water is combined with the dry ingredients. Dry ingredients will start to pull away from the sides of food processor bowl into a ball.
- Transfer the dough to a well-floured pastry board and form into a ball. Let the pastry “rest” for a few minutes and up to 10 minutes on the pastry board.
- Gently knead and fold in blueberries. Do not over-knead. Add flour to pastry board and top of pastry ball to keep from sticking to pastry board and hands. Do not add too much flour.
- Using hands, pat into about a 10″ diameter circle, about 1″ height. Cut into 8 equal sized pie-shaped pieces and transfer to parchment paper. Do not use a sawing motion when cutting the scones; rater make a sharp downward slice.
- Place in freezer for 10 to 15 minutes until almost frozen.
- Transfer to oven and bake for 15 minutes or until tops are browned and cooked through.
- Remove from oven, cool to room temperature.
- If desired, ice with lemon confectioners’ sugar glaze.
Lemon Confectioner's Sugar Glaze - II
- 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp water or more
Method and Steps:
- Whisk confectioner’s sugar, vanilla extract, lemon juice and water together until blended, smooth and silky.
- Add additional water, a small spoon at a time, if glaze is too thick to drizzle. Be careful not to add too much water. When a cook’s spoon is lifted up, the glaze should stay on the spoon and come off in a slow stream. The glaze hardens quickly – do don’t delay in spreading it on the scones.
- Drizzle over the scones.