When I think about those recipes I’d like to master and have in my back pocket for whipping up for various occasions, scones come to mind. They’re good candidates for shaping and freezing unbaked, which is nice for a two-person household. They’re good for transporting, making them good candidates for giving. And they lend themselves to different flavors, making them flexible for seasonal baking and pairing with toppings.
During my search for a good recipe to start this scone recipe project with, I learned that there are many varied approaches to making them, including different amounts of fat, baking powder, and egg. In the interest of developing my own baking style, I like to consider base formulas and add customization from there. For these scones, I selected the formula from Professional Baking (fourth edition) by Wayne Gisslen as my starting point.
Using my little jars of apricot freezer jam as a guide, I settled on almond as the flavor for these scones.
I had read so much about not overworking the dough in order to keep the scones tender, that I decided to stop when I felt the dough was underworked, and the butter and shortening chunks were too large. This little mental shift really helped me avoid tough dough — the scones turned out extremely tender, but firm enough on the outside that they don’t fall apart when picked up.
I’m very happy with how these turned out. The flavor is almost like pie crust, and wonderful with the apricot jam. This recipe is quite rich, and for my next batch I may experiment with pulling back on the butter and shortening some. I didn’t care for the way the almonds tasted sprinkled on top — they were too browned for my taste and bordered on tasting burned. Next time I’d increase the almond extract and eliminate the almond topping, simply using the coarse sugar instead.
Rich Almond Scones
Adapted from Professional Baking
- 183 grams finely-milled hard white wheat flour, well-chilled
- 183 grams finely-milled soft white wheat flour, well-chilled
- 46 grams white granulated sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 73 grams unsalted butter, cut into slices and squares, well-chilled
- 73 grams shortening, in medium chunks, well-chilled
- 1 large egg
- 164 grams half-and-half
- 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
- half-and-half and demerara sugar for topping
- sliced almonds for topping (optional)
- apricot jam for serving (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 425°.
- Grease or line a baking sheet.
- Stir together the chilled flours, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl.
- Add the chilled butter and shortening chunks and toss with fingers to coat. Using a pastry blender, cut up the pieces into the flour. The texture will range from coarse meal to peanut-sized.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, egg, and almond extract.
- Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture. Using a rubber spatula, start folding together the wet and dry mixtures lightly, about 5 to 8 strokes. It won’t be fully combined.
- Dump the mixture onto the counter and pull together lightly. Pat into a rectangle, then using a bench scraper fold the rectangle in half. Repeat the patting and folding 2 or 3 more times. I didn’t need additional flour on the counter for this process.
- Pat the dough into a circle, 1/2- to 3/4- inch thick. Using the bench scraper, cut the circle into 8 wedges and place on greased or lined baking sheet. If some are getting frozen for later baking, place them on a separate sheet and freeze at this point, without adding toppings.
- Brush the scones with half-and-half and sprinkle with demerara sugar.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until they start to lightly brown.
To bake the frozen scones, remove from freezer while oven is preheating and brush with half-and-half and sprinkle with sugar before baking. Add a couple of extra minutes to baking time.