Wednesday, 25 August 2010

for the love of scones

Although it is something very simple to throw together a batch of scones, if you over look some details, you may end up with a tray of hard, flat, bread-like buns instead. That happened to me on my maiden attempt (^^")

I have made enough mistakes (at least 3 failed attempts) before my oven could churn out a decent batch of scones.

The main mistake I made was...kneading the dough for too long ('long' as in a couple of minutes). We are not making bread here, we do not need gluten to form, so, the less fiddling with the dough, the softer scones you are going to get.

Mistake number 2: using ingredients that were left to room temperature. To make soft, fluffy scones, you need COLD ingredients. Cold eggs, cold milk, cold butter and a cold, well chilled mixing bowl will also help in our hot and warm weather here. You would also need cold fingertips to work the butter into the flour mixture. Since I don't have a pastry cutter or a food processor, I use a fork. The main aim is to prevent the butter from melting as you cut it into the dry ingredients. The dough has to be kept cold so that it will have little bits of dispersed butter in it. During baking, the heat will cause these tiny bits of butter to melt into the dough and leaves pockets and layers in the scones for them to rise nicely.


Besides the above two important keys to making soft tender scones, I had to pay attention to a few very minor details.

*In order for the scones to rise evenly, the pressure you applied while cutting out the scones actually matters. To avoid lopsided scones, press the cutter directly down and lift it straight up without twisting to release the dough.

* Arrange scones side by side on the baking tray, so that they are just touching each other. This will help keep the sides straight and even as the scones cook. They will also rise higher than scones that are baked spaced apart.

* Do not smooth out the edges/sides of a cut-out scone. Leave it alone. Otherwise it will be impossible to get those crackly 'smiles' on the sides.

* Use a sharp cutter. This is something I have yet to overcome. I am still using a drinking glass to cut out the dough (^^'). The problem with this improvised tool is, even though I rolled out the dough to an inch thick, after pressing the glass into the dough, because of the extra pressure required to cut through it, the cut out scones became much thinner :(


These wholemeal scones are a great breakfast treat. The crumbs are soft, although do not expect them to taste as light and fluffy as muffins. We prefer to eat them plain since they are already very delicious without any jam or butter :)




Wholemeal Breakfast Scones

Ingredients:(makes 7 ~ 8 scones)

150g cake flour
50g wholemeal flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons caster sugar
a pinch of salt
50g unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
1 egg (about 50g without shell), cold, lightly beaten
80g plain yoghurt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract (optional)


Method:
  1. In a large mixing bowl, sift together cake flour and baking powder. Mix in wholemeal flour, sugar and salt. With finger tips rub the cold butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (It is important that the butter be cold so when it is cut into the flour mixture it becomes small, flour-coated crumbs. I use a fork to work the butter into the dry ingredients. If the butter starts to melt away during this process, stop and place the mixture in the freezer for 10-15 mins to prevent the butter from melting further. Continue the process when the mixture is well chilled.
  2. Make a well in the centre and add in egg and yoghurt and vanilla extract if using. Stir with a spatula until just combined. The mixture will be sticky, moist and lumpy. Gather up the mixture and place it on a lightly floured surface and give it a few light kneading (not more than 10 seconds) so that it comes together to form a dough. Do Not over work the dough. (Only mix the dough until it comes together. Too much kneading will cause gluten to develop, and the resulting scones will turn hard and chewy. Knead only until the ingredients come together into a combined mass.)
  3. Pat the dough into a round disc, place in a plastic bag or cover with cling wrap and leave it to chill in the fridge for about 30mins. (The objective here is to let the dough rest and keep it cold to prevent the butter from melting so that there will be little bits of dispersed butter in the dough. During baking, the heat will cause these tiny bits of butter to melt into the dough and leaves pockets and layers in the scones for them to rise nicely. If the butter melts or softens before baking, the resulting scone will be hard and flat.)
  4. On a lightly floured surface, dust your hands and the dough with some flour and roll out into 1 inch thick (avoid using too much flour). Cut out the dough with a lightly floured 2.5-inch biscuit cutter. Press the cutter directly down and lift it straight up without twisting. Dip the cutter into some flour after each cut. Gather scraps together and repeat until all the dough is used. (For easy cleaning, I roll out the dough between two plastic sheets, and it is easier to lift up the scones after cutting.)
  5. Place scones on baking tray (lined with parchment paper). For soft-sided scones, arrange them close together on the baking sheet so that the sides are touching, this will also keep the sides straight and even as the scones cook. For crisp-sided ones, place them 1 inch apart, these will not rise as high as scones that are baked close together. Brush the tops with some milk.
  6. Bake at preheated oven at 200 degC for about 12~15 mins or until they are well risen and the tops are golden brown. Do not over bake. The texture of the interior should be light and soft. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Serve warm. (These scones are best served freshly baked, any leftovers can be kept in airtight container. Brush or spray some water over the scones and warm them in the oven before serving.)

45 comments:

  1. I never have to think of what to make for breakfast now. You give me so many ideas!! Thank U & have a great week!!

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  2. Very good tips on making good scones! You are such a very detail person! These scones with some wholemeal flour is a good one! Thanks for sharing!

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  3. hey, looks like we are into scones baking mood huh!! ya, I like the wholemeal flour added to the scones too. very nutty and good texture too. The smiles on the scones really make you smile too!

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  4. Hi HHB, you made the scone looks so so cute with the eyes, hands & legs :). What a healthy treat for breakfast, but I love spreading with thick layer of butter :P.

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  5. Hayırlı sabahlar. Ellerinize sağlık. Çok güzel ve leziz görünüyor.

    Saygılar.

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  6. Thanks for the tips! I've been wanting to try baking scones for months but get intimidated by the thought of having to keep everything cold.

    Some variations you might want to try out: berry white chocolate, cheese and basil, chilli cheese, mocha choc chip... I can get them at bakeries here (in Sydney) but it's always nicer to bake your own! :o)

    And thanks for drawing a face on your scone. I don't feel so silly anymore for making happy food.

    And

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  7. ahhh! it must be the hundred-th time that I say I wanna make scones and till now, I havent even TRIED making one. Shame on me!

    Now with this "healthier choice" I think I better get working!

    Thanks for the recipe!

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  8. Thanks for these very useful tips, if i have yogurt right now, I will straight away to make this since I have all the ingredients.

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  9. I bet not only me but many out there appreciate your effort in putting this up yore those keen new bakers. Looks really light texture... Are these your favorite scone recipe?

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  10. Your scones look great! Texture looks perfect.
    I love your drawing! Put a smile on my face today :)

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  11. HHB, can you give me your email?

    Lovely scones. Is this buttery type?

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  12. The scones look so delicious~ I really like the first picture which u drew the cartoon on it.. very cute and creative^^

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  13. Nice scones, but I've only tried to bake once even though I love them...;p

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  14. Thks for the tips... I haven't tried your oatmeal scones and here comes another version... one more recipe to add to my to-do-list...hehe

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  15. Hi HHB,
    I admired you have the eye for details, not just details, but minute details. And the patience to document them and share them with us. Thank you very much for your effort. I'm just wondering, will I ever dislike anything you made? Not a chance. :)
    This wholemeal scones look very healthy and good! I shall try this. Got it bookmarked! Thanks very much for sharing.

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  16. Hi HHB, i think i'm just like youfei, it is something that i wanted to bake for long time but just hesitated cos i know this is no easy stuff ..but you provided all the useful tips and perfect shapes. If i were to make scones, for sure i'll come back here.

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  17. Your scones are so lovely, with big smiles. Thanks for sharing so many tips, really learn a lot from this post. Can't wait to bake my own scones :)

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  18. You really did alot of research and understanding and observing of your baking process ...

    For the recently try on scones, I did not even roll out and cut, so lazy right?

    Nice looking scones. I think with the info you provide in the various different types of bakes, there is no need for cook book.

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  19. great tips! I tried making scones once and failed =(

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  20. Ren, I hardly see any scones on sales at bakeries here, so I have to make my own, thanks for giving me the idea :) I like fooling around with my photos, this is not the first time I have done it ;) I don't even feel silly for posting them up, hehe!

    youfei, you are not alone, there are things that I said a thousand times I want to make and never get down to do it, like egg tarts, apple pies, cream puffs, etc, etc!

    Bee Bee, so far this recipe gives the softest texture…maybe it is made with yoghurt? The best scones I have tasted were the ones we had at Cameron Highlands. However, I actually prefer those Biscuits that we had at Popeyes…note, only those at Bay Area! Some how, the ones that I have tried at the outlets here, all CMI leh :(

    Edith, I won't say this is very buttery, because the amount of butter used is not that much.

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  21. Jane, I hope this recipe won't let you down :)

    lena, it took me a long while before I started baking scones too, and since then, it became a regular baking item ;)

    Min, I hope you have fun baking scones, it is quite an experience!

    Sherlyn, that's because I have low tolerance for any kitchen mishaps ;) I feel bad if I have to throw away food. Stingy me, I feel heart pain even throwing away half an egg ;')

    pigpigscorner, we always learn from mistakes, I am sure your next batch of scones will be a great success :)

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  22. Thanks for sharing tips from your last few experiments HHB! Will go grab tub of yoghurt and bake some. Yours look simply wholesome goodness with wholemeal flour. You always give me inspiration for what to bake and i certainly pick up alot of tips and baking knowledge from your blog;)

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  23. oh yeaaaa! The best I've tasted is at cameron highlands! I had them almost every single day =X

    nice and warm out of the oven yummehhh!

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  24. Hi HHB,

    I love the tips that you have provided for scone making. Am sure that it will come in handy for me. I have not made any scones yet. Going to attempt them soon (cream scones) from a book I borrowed from the library.

    Hope it will turn out decent so I can have them for breakfast. I love eating those rich scones without butter or jam, like the ones from Popeyes Chicken.

    Cheers =]

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  25. youfei, those scones are so tender and soft!almost like eating a sponge cake!

    Bakertan, actually I started off baking scones because I missed those biscuits from Popeyes Chicken...ie those I had in the States. Somehow the ones I had here didn't taste as good.

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  26. This is such a nice bakes.

    Thanks for your generous sharing of all the tips. Shall I make my first batch of scones?

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  27. Hi HHB,

    You mention that you use 2 plastic sheets when rolling out the dough. I suppose they are not cling film. Where did you get the plastic sheets?

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  28. hanushi, the plastic sheets are simply cut out from those clear plastic bags, hope you know what I am referring to? I used one to chill the dough, after removing from the fridge, I cut it out.

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  29. Hi HHB,

    Pardon me, I'm not quite sure which type of clear plastic bags you are refering to. Can elaborate/enlighten?

    Many thanks!

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  30. hanushi, eg those plastic bags that are used to put fruits when you shop at supermarket (fruits/veg section).

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  31. Your scones look very cute:)! Love the drawing!

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  32. Hi HHB,

    I always have difficulty handling and rolling my dough in general. I tried to put the dough between two sheets of clingfilm and roll on top of my clingfilm but it doesn't work.

    Thanks for sharing generously on the plastic sheets!! It never come across to me that those plastic bags can be used as plastic sheets. It is really a wonderful tip to me. :)

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  33. try using half a can of lemonade instead of rising flour, may work better =D

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  34. i love scones. this looks delicious!

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  35. What a healthy breakfast! I didn't know scones should be arranged side by side. Hehe i always arranged them spaced apart... hehe. Thanks for the detailed tips! :)

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  36. my, the scones look superrr yummy!

    i've a made a batch of scones before but the scones weren't really what i'd call fluffy and i had no ideaaa just why!
    but thanks to this great post, now i know!

    thanks for the tips! ^___^

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  37. Thanks for all the secrets to make the perfect scone. It was very instructive for me. That's why i made my first raspberry scones last week. I put a link on my blog (it's a french one).

    http://amande.cuisineblog.fr/162780/Raspberry-Scones-Ou-scones-a-la-framboise-selon-Rose-Bakery/

    By the way, I ♥ your blog!!!

    Amande "Muffins love me"

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  38. Hi Happy Homebaker,

    I love your baking blog. It's really cool! ^.^
    I would love to learn how to make the scones. The cake flour you use, it's plain flour or flour with baking powder?

    Regards,
    Lynn

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  39. Hi Lynn, cake flour doesn't come with baking powder added...it has lower protein gluten than plain flour. You can refer to this site: joyofbaking.com to check how to substitute cake flour with plain flour. Hope this helps :)

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  40. Dear Happy Homebaker,

    Thanks ^.^

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  41. OMG ...i love scones...can u pls try a low calorie version??? thank u... wanna have em often..lol

    http://forever16iam.blogspot.com/2011/05/sinful-treat-meet-scones.html

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  42. Fantastic! I was looking for a scones receipt. I love it and I will try this one! lovely blog!:-)

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