Thursday, January 20, 2011

tea and scones

Another favorite recipe adapted from the Good Housekeeping Great Baking cookbook (a kitchen essential, in my opinion) is my tried and true orange cranberry scones - cream scones flavored with orange zest and studded with morsels of candied orange peel and dried cranberries.  I had substitued corn starch for part of the flour to give it a more crumbly texture and played around until I got the perfect porportions of fruits figured out.  I also tripled the recipe - because they always disappear so quickly - and also beause they freeze well.

A pastry blender comes in really handy when making scones.  It makes the process so much quicker in my opinion.  I still get my hand in there - but just to check for the right consistency.  Since my old one went missing mysteriously last summer, I invested in another one.

This is how I make my scones:

  • 5 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup corn starch
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
  • 2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • zest of a medium orange (about 1/2 tablespoon)
  • 1 cup candied orange peel, chopped
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

  1. In large mixing bowl, stir to combine the flour, corn starch, baking powder, salt and sugar.
  2. Cut pieces of cold butter into flour mixture until no lumps of butter remain and the mixture is crumbly in texture.
  3. Form a well in the middle of the flour mixture then add cream and eggs into the well.  Working outwards, slowly incorporate flour mixture into liquid until dough holds together.
  4. Stir in orange zest, candied orange peel and dried cranberries.
  5. With floured hands, divide dough evenly into 6 balls.  Place 2 on each baking sheet lined with parchment paper (best to leave about 2" space all around) then slightly flatten.  Brush cream over top then sprinkle generously with sugar. 
  6. Moisten blade of knife with cream then cut each round into 8 wedges.  Pull wedges apart to leave at least half an inch of space in between - otherwise when they rise they'll push against each other and the insides won't cook properly.
  7. Bake in oven preheated to 400 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes.  Check that the scones have enough space to grow after the first 10 minutes or so and seperate them if necessary.
  8. Serve warm - otherwise, let cool completely on wire racks and store in air-tight containers.  These can be frozen in a single layer and reheated in the toaster oven just before serving.

I enjoyed mine today with pu-erh tea (we Cantonese call it "bo lei") - a dark tea made from fermented tea leaves that is mellow and soothing especially in this cold weather.  A happy moment :)

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