My absolute favorite scone recipe is this bacon asiago scallion one, which produces a scone I could truly eat all day, every day. However, there are times something lighter is called for, particularly when you just discovered a small zipper bag of last summer’s blueberries sitting in your freezer.
Fruit scones can be lovely, but I have two problems with most recipes I come across: way too sweet, and they make enough for an army. I’ve seen some that call for four cups of flour (whoa, are you feeding your whole block?) and others with a much higher proportion of sugar and eggs to flour. I want a scone, not a muffin or cake.
So, I set about coming up with my own proportions that would deliver the kind of fruit scone I like: light, a touch buttery but not heavy, and only a bit of sugar, with most of the sweetness coming from the blueberries and some orange zest (lemon zest would be lovely too). This is a small recipe, just enough (plenty, in fact) for two people on a weekend morning, with leftovers for the next day.
I learned the trick of shredding and freezing the butter from an America’s Test Kitchen video a couple of years ago, and have been using this technique for any baked good that calls for “cutting in butter”. It allows you to get the butter blended in very quickly, and keeps it as cold as possible. To make a tender scone you really don’t want to overwork the dough.
The nice thing about paring down a recipe is that it also makes it really fast to put together: from measuring out the flour to pulling hot scones from the oven is about 30 minutes. Obviously, you could double this recipe if desired, but you might need two sheet pans. I’d keep the cooking time about the same, but rotate the pans mid-way through.
makes four large, or eight very small scones
- 1 cup of flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 1 T sugar
- 1 t orange or lemon zest (optional)
- 3 T butter
- a handful of frozen blueberries (about 1/4 cup) – do not defrost
- 1 large egg
- 2 T half and half plus a splash for brushing on top
Preheat the oven to 400°. Shred the butter on the large holes of a box grater and place it on a plate in the freezer for about 5 minutes (longer is fine too).
Put first four ingredients (and zest, if using) in a large bowl. Whisk to blend everything together and remove any lumps. Remove the butter from freezer and, using your hands, gently rub into the flour until it’s broken into small pieces and evenly distributed. Add blueberries to bowl and gently toss with your fingers to distribute through the flour.
In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg and half and half together with a fork, and then, using the same fork, gently mix into the flour mixture until the liquid is completely blended in. Be sure not to overmix. The dough will look really dry – this is OK. Turn the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper and press into a circle or square about 1/2″ thick. Using a dough scraper or large knife, cut dough into however many scones you like. (I like eight, for small scones, but you could do four large ones too). Carefully lift or slide the parchment onto a baking sheet, and spread the scones apart a bit so they are not touching.
In the bowl you mixed the egg in, add a splash of half & half, and lightly brush the top of each scone. Sprinkle a pinch of sugar on each one.
Bake at 400º for 12-15 minutes, until just barely golden on top. Remove from oven, transfer the scones to a cooling rack. let cool about 10 minutes, if you can wait that long. Great with a hot cup of coffee!