There is something that feels so wintery to me about scones, although maybe that’s just because scones are quintessentially English, and English weather is notoriously rainy (ironically, I hear that the weather in London today is sunny and the temperature 20C). In any case, on this cold and rainy day in Amman, scones felt very weather-appropriate.
My last few posts have been very health-conscious, and while I continue to enjoy my healthy streak, I felt the need to fatten up my 5’8″ 105lbs mother, who just so happens to LOVE scones. She’s not much of a sweet tooth (why did I not get that gene?!), but occasionally really enjoys desserts with a lower sugar content, so scones are perfect.
A recipe for orange-raisin scones caught my eye in the February issue of MSL, and I’m not sure why I didn’t get around to trying it sooner (oh right, my crazy work sched). The original recipe actually calls for candied orange peel in addition to orange zest and liqueur, but I’m not a fan of orange peel so I decided to leave that out. The verdict? (I may be on a healthy streak but I at least had to take a bite!). The scones were not too sweet (ie- perfect) and just the right flaky texture. However, I thought they could benefit from being just a liiiittle bit more moisture…hmmm, perhaps a bit of sour cream or ricotta in the batter? I’m not sure how much this will affect the texture of the scones, but it’s definitely something I plan to experiment with…stay tuned.
And for all you fellow sweet-toothed foodies (like me!), the homemade strawberry jam adds the perfect touch. The tart Granny Smith apple trick comes from this month’s Bon Appétit, and I must say it is genius because apparently apples are a great natural source of pectin, the chemical that gives jam its gel-like quality. Serve with clotted cream and brew yourself a cuppa (naturally, try something uber-British like PG Tips), and you’d think you were in a British tearoom. Nom.
For the orange-raisin scones:
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 1/4 cup candied orange peel (if desired)
- 1/4 cup orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier
- 1 tbsp orange zest
- 2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 stick cold butter (unsalted)
- 1/4 cup and 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp and 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup cold heavy cream
- 2 large eggs
- Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting
Combine raisins, orange peel if desired, orange zest and liqueur in a small bowl or mug, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 175C/350F. Swift flours together and place half the amount in a food processor. Cut the butter into small pieces and scatter over the flour. Pulse just until combined (mixture should look like small peas) and be careful not to overwork. Add sugar, salt and baking powder to remaining flour, then slowly incorporate the flour-butter mixture until integrated. Whisk cream, one whole egg and one egg yolk together (reserve white for later). Create a well in the center of the flour mixture, and pour half the wet ingredients in. Fold flour mixture into wet ingredients using a spatula, making sure to incorporate flour at the bottom of the bowl. Add the remaining cream and mix just enough to incorporate.
Place dough on a lightly floured surface and gently roll using a small pin into a rectangle shape. Scatter raisins and orange peel evenly over the surface of the dough, then fold dough onto itself in three parts (like folding a letter). Roll the dough out again and repeat folding and rolling step to distribute fruit evenly. Finally, roll dough out to 1 or 1 1/2 inch thick and cut to desired shape (I made circles). Place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper, brush with egg wash, sprinkle confectioner’s sugar on top, and bake for about 20-25 minutes. The sugar will caramelize during baking and add a bit of extra crunch. Transfer baked scones to a cooling rack, sprinkle with more confectioner’s sugar, and take a bite.
For the chunky strawberry jam:
- 4 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered (approx 1 lb)
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Combine strawberries, sugar and grated apple in a medium skillet over medium heat, until sugar dissolves. Stir occasionally to break up strawberries and cook for 15-20 minutes until the jam thickens. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Transfer to a jar or bowl and cover, allow to cool and set for at least 2 hours.
In good health,
* Tea party image (top) courtesy of Candyfloss Curls, Cupcakes and Couture