Sunday, August 28, 2005

Sunday Brunch: Buttermilk Scones

I like a good scone. Unfortunately, a good scone outside of the kitchen seems to be rather difficult to come by these days. I know this is not true for many people for two reasons: you might have a particular bakery you frequent that makes nice ones or you have different scone standards than I do. Let me say that having one bakery that does scones well is a great thing, but it does not really increase the availibility of scones to the rest of us.
As to scone standards, I think that they are heavily influnenced by chains that do a heavy business in them. There isn't anything wrong with that. To be fair, some of their scones can have a good flavor (often from the glaze one the scone), but to my mind they are too dry and bready to be really good. My favorite scones are made by The Cheese Board in Berkeley, CA. If you live anywhere in the bay area and have never been, shame on you. Make sure to have their pizza, as well!
For now, I guess I'll stick to homemade.
Using buttermilk instead of cream in this recipe give the scones a richness without some of the fat. They are buttery and the cherries go well with the tang of buttermilk. You may need a little less liquid if it is very humid where you live.

Buttermilk Scones
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp butter, cold and cut into small pieces
5 tbsp buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup dried cherries, chopped if you like smaller pieces
For topping:
1 tbsp buttermilk
1 tbsp coarse sugar

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar and whisk to combine. Rub butter into the flour mixture with your fingers or a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles very coarse meal. Stir in buttermilk and vanilla, adding the dried cherries as the dough starts to come together. The dough should be sticky but not runny.
Form dough into a disc 1 inch thick and place on your baking sheet. Cut the dough disk into 4-6 wedges using a knife or a pizza cutter. Brush with 1 tbsp buttermilk and sprinkle liberally with coarse sugar. You may separate the scones or bake them together and break them apart after they're baked (I like to separate them).
Bake at 400F for 15-18 minutes, until lightly browned.
Let cool for a few minutes before serving.

Makes 4-6 small scones