Saturday, May 27, 2006

SHF #28: Vanilla and Ginger Scones

Sugar High Friday's theme this month is ginger and the event is hosted by Ruth at Once Upon a Feast. Frankly, I had a huge craving for vanilla and couldn't get it out of my head enough to focus on the ginger. After a while, I gave up on trying not to use vanilla and decided to work with it.
I went with some simple scones and added a lot of vanilla to them. Again, I used vanilla paste instead of vanilla extract, so if you look closely, you can see the vanilla beans. I added candied ginger chips to the batter not only to fit the theme of the event, but to provide a contrast with the vanilla.
It worked beautifully. The ginger was sweet and a little bit sharp, while the vanilla was wonderfully fragrant. To say that the kitchen smelled fantastic while these were baking is an understatement, as butter and vanilla wafted through the air. The scones tasted excellent, as well. The vanilla flavor was almost a surprise, since it is often included in recipes but not played up to the extent that I used it here. I think that it really had a chance to shine in these scones. They were tender and not dry in the least, with crisp, browned edges.
I ate them warm, but you can certainly serve them at room temperature. They are best the day they are made, but can be stored in a plastic bag and refreshed with a few minutes in a 350F oven if necessary. Halve the recipe if you don't need a dozen scones at once, though these are definitely on the small side. You'll probably want two per person.

Vanilla and Ginger Scones
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, chilled and cut into 6 or 8 pieces
2 tsp good vanilla extract or vanilla paste
1/2-2/3 cup milk
3-4 tbsp chopped candied ginger

Preheat oven to 400F.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
Add the butter to the flour mixture and rub it in with your fingertips, making crumbs. Keep working the flour until the butter seems fairly evenly distributed, with a few larger bits, but none larger than a pea.
Stir in 1/2 cup milk and the candied ginger pieces. Add the remaining milk 1 tbsp at a time until the dough comes together into a ball. It should not be too sticky.
Knead dough gently into a ball on a lightly floured surface, then press it out into a 1/2-3/4 inch thick disc. Use a 2-inch round cutter to cut scones and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Press dough gently back together and make another pass with the cutter.
Bake for about 14-15 minutes at 400F. Until light golden brown. The bottoms should be dark brown.
Cool on a wire rack, or eat warm.
Makes 12 small scones