Sunday, August 22, 2010
When my lovely blogger friend, Anh of A Food Lover's Journey announced that she and Cherrie from Sweet Cherrie Pie were co-hosting the International Incident Scones Party blogger event this month, it really got me to thinkin'. Despite prior successes, scones are just not something I usually crave. They're neither rich like brownies, for example, nor pretty like cupcakes and tarts. Scones also have an (undeserved) bad rep from the under-flavored/over-baked versions often found at coffee chains. I'm halfway convinced those are sold only to dry out our mouths so we'll crave more coffee (smart, actually).
But prompted by this event, I'm recollecting that the humble scone is bursting with possibility. Truly an unfussy canvas for playing with different grains and add-ins, be they sweet or savory, dry or juicy. True, Ms. Scone is nothing much to look at. But she knows this and doesn't try to hide behind any fancy frostings. She's happy simply in the company of a good cuppa coffee or tea and maybe some jam and cream if they're around. Prepared with the proper light touch, she'll reward you with a slightly crunchy exterior that yields to softer innards.
These white chocolate and dried cherry scones I made for the party are particularly tender due to the lower gluten content from the buckwheat flour (I used teff) and cornmeal. Methinks even a zealous stirrer would find them hard to mess up =). And you white chocolate naysayers, I encourage you to take a chance on these. Baking seems to caramelize the white chocolate so that the flavor becomes more complex. Plus, its infamous sweetness is reigned in by tart cherries and flavorful grains in a recipe that otherwise contains little sugar.
Lastly, I'd be remiss not to wish our hosts, Anh and Cherrie a big Happy Birthday this month! Please don't forget to check out their scones and those of all the other International Incident partyers by clicking on the thumbnails at the bottom of this post below the recipe.
White Chocolate Sour Cherry Scones [Printable Recipe]
Slightly adapted from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich via David Lebovitz
Makes 8 large scones
DAVID'S NOTES: You can swap out dark chocolate for the white chocolate chunks. I prefer to used chopped chocolate because those pre-prepared chips don’t melt and get as gooey when baked. You can also swap out any other bits of diced dried fruit for the sour cherries; California dried apricots would be fantastic with the white chocolate chunks.
If your dough is very soft, or you don’t want to get the counter dirty, you can certainly spoon it onto the prepared baking sheet in 8 mounds. For firm, neater-looking scones, the dough should be not too sticky and you can knead a bit more flour into the dough. Since the scone dough is on the soft side, this is the time to get out your metal pastry scraper. If you don’t have one, a metal spatula will make lifting the dough, and the cut scones, a little easier.
1 large egg
Scant 1/2 cup (115 ml) cream or milk
1 1/3 cup (170 g) flour
1/3 cup (45 g) buckwheat flour [I substituted teff but whole wheat should work too]
1/3 cup (45 g) cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
1/3 cup (65 g) sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes
3/4 cup (105 g) white chocolate chunks
1/4 cup (35 g) dark chocolate chunks
1/2 (60 g) coarsely-chopped dried sour cherries
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 teaspoon milk
Coarse (or granulated) sugar for topping scones
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 C) and line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. In a small bowl, stir together the egg with the milk or cream. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, buckwheat, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
Using a pastry cutter, work in the cold butter until the pieces are about the size of corn kernels. (You could use an electric mixer or food processor instead.) Add the egg mixture, stirring with a spatula, until the dough is moistened, then stir in the chocolate bits and sour cherries.
On a lightly-floured surface, pat the dough into an 8-inch (20 cm) round. If it’s too wet and is very sticky, knead in a spoonful or two of flour on the countertop. Use a pastry scraper to divide the dough into eight wedges and set them on the baking sheet, evenly spaced apart.
Brush the tops of each wedge with the a glaze made by stirring the egg yolk with the teaspoon of milk together with a fork. Sprinkle the tops of each scone with coarse or granulated sugar so they’re generously coated. Bake the scones for 25 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.