Back in my former hometown of Nacogdoches, there is a lovely coffee shop called Java Jacks. They got me hooked on scones. I used to love to drop by on my way to work or school and pick up one of their tasty specialty lattes and a cinnamon chip scone.
For years, I tried to make scones at home, but they never would turn out anything like the ones I got at Java Jacks. I tried numerous different recipes, and I got everything from triangular muffins to hardtack. Even Alton Brown’s recipe didn’t work for me (probably because I did something wrong). I tried scone mix, and while the results tasted really good, they still weren’t quite…scones.
Just recently, I stumbled across yet another scone recipe. This one didn’t seem any more promising than any others, but it sure was easier. The recipe called for baking mix, milk, and add-ins of your choosing. Easy-peasy. So I gave it a whirl.
Well, the scones still weren’t quite like the ones I was used to. They were a little more moist, not so crumbly…but man, were they tasty! The texture was somewhere between a scone and a muffin, but they were easier to make than either one.
Then I decided to try an experiment. What would happen, I wondered, if I added a little butter? I used Alton Brown’s technique and hand rubbed the butter into the baking mix. Then I stirred in the milk and the additional ingredients and baked as directed. When they came out of the oven…lo and behold—scones! Crumbly, tender, tasty, wonderful scones!
Since then, I’ve tried a couple of other variations (with and without the added butter), and they’ve all turned out really good. So I decided to share my “secrets” with the other scone lovers of the world.
The basic recipe (from the King Arthur Flour website):
First preheat your oven to 450°F. Scones tend to be a little larger than biscuits. You’ll make about 4 scones per 1 cup of mix. To each cup of mix, add any combination of Defining Ingredients before adding 1/4 cup milk. For a richer scone, use half-and-half instead of milk.
Put the scones together the way you would biscuits, adding any “defining ingredients” to the dry ingredients before you add the wet.
Mix, knead, and roll as you would biscuits. Scones are traditionally cut into wedges, which avoids the waste issue. Place them on a lightly floured or parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes.
Now, here is the first place I deviate from their instructions. My “defining ingredients” can be anything from chocolate chips to coffee, so I add them in where appropriate (I add the coffee in place of the milk, for example, and stir in chocolate chips after all other ingredients are mixed). I also find that my scones work better at a slightly lower temperature (say, 400). Your mileage may vary, depending on your oven.
You can switch things up a bit by changing the essential elements of the scone, as well as the “defining ingredients.” For instance, you can add 2/3 cup of canned pumpkin to the baking mix (leaving out the milk). You can use coffee or a nice, flavorful tea in place of the milk. And of course, you can use whatever kind of baking mix you prefer, including gluten-free, or you can even mix up your own ahead of time. As far as defining ingredients, the King Arthur website lists a handful of possibilities. You can always glean ideas from Pinterest and other internet resources as well. Between savory and sweet options, the combinations are almost infinite. Below are a few ideas to get you started:
Spinach & Feta
Pesto (regular, sundried tomato, or sweet pepper varieties would all be good)
Chocolate chip, cinnamon chip, or espresso chip scones (add a little sugar to your baking mix for these—these also work well in pumpkin scones)
Cranberry orange (orange zest and dried cranberries, also with a little sugar added)
Pumpkin with maple extract added, or a maple icing drizzled on top
Pumpkin scones with candied bacon topping
Peanut butter banana
Nutella (in place of part of the milk)
Lemon with candied ginger
Chocolate scones with salted caramel chips
You’re limited only by your imagination…and what you can find at your local grocery store. Go forth and bake, scone lovers! Edible happiness awaits.