Thursday, October 6, 2016

Crème Fraîche Scones from Miette



As promised here are these sweet little scones from Miette.  I have written about my delight in Miette (see here), and so it was a no-brainer when I needed to whip up a vehicle for Strawberry Vanilla Jam. And these did not disappoint.



Shall we explore the history of the scone, you and I?

There's a lot of information out there about the scone. As in a lot, so let's see if I can round some of it up. The scone was originally a Scottish quick bread made with oats and then griddle-fried. The scone distinguishes itself as not utilizing yeast, as one might expect from other tea pastries, such as a tea cakes or sweet buns. Instead, this well-leavened pastry uses baking powder to achieve its heights. However, baking powder is a relatively recent invention, so scones probably soared using buttermilk as a boost.



Now don't get all confused about "high" and "low" or "afternoon" tea. Americans (and their representative tea rooms) like the sound of "high tea" because it sounds all fancy and lovely. However, high tea refers to a full (yet early evening) meal that includes meat and the like. Low or afternoon tea takes place around 4 or 5 p.m. and is generally the delicate sandwiches (with crusts requisitely cut off, right?), scones, and sweet desserts. 



Now, let's get particular.  Devonshire tea, also known as cream tea, is precisely where one should situate these scones from Miette. Served with clotted cream and strawberry preserves, scones absolutely must be cut in half. This is for full effect, people, and I don't dispute it. However, I am not even going to get embroiled in the which-comes-first debate: cream first then preserves (à la the Devon way) or preserves first then cream (à la the Cornwall method). I leave that to the experts. 


Now, let's talk about these little scones. The method is a little unusual. First you press the dough into a pan in order to get a uniform height. Then you cut them into 1-inch squares, pop them out of the pan, and then bake them in the oven. This produces a sheer abundance of delightful scones, that are as pretty to look at as they are delicious to pop in your mouth.



I did heed the warning that there was not enough liquid, so I made some pretty liberal changes below. With the extra liquid these turned out delightfully, and I did as instructed and froze then remaining scones (first I put them on a baking pan in the freezer until frozen; then I put them in a bag). Now I have the perfect scone for my afternoon tea. One with cream on top. The other with strawberry preserves on top. I am not choosing sides. 

Crème Fraîche Scones 

Adapted from Miette
Yield:
4 Servings

Ingredients:
1/3 cup crème fraîche*
1/3 cup heavy cream + extra for brushing
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk (Added)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp cold, unsalted butter, diced (added 1/4)
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 Tbsp baking powder +1 tsp (added 1 tsp)
1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp baking soda
1 1/8 tsp salt


Instructions:
1.   In a small bowl, stir together the crème fraîche, heavy cream, egg, and egg yolk. 

2.  In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, butter, lemon zest, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix on low-speed until the mixture resembles cornmeal. 

3.  Add the crème fraîche mixture and mix until the dough is just moistened. It will look under-mixed and crumbly at this point, but it is important to stop as you will finish the mixing when you press the dough into the pan. The less you handle the dough, the flakier your scones will be.

4. In an 8-in square baking pan, firmly press the dough as evenly as possible. Use a rolling-pin to level the top if possible. The dough should be about 1-in thick. Brush the top with cream and sprinkle lightly with sugar.

5. Mark and cut the dough into 1-in squares. Carefully separate the cubes and put them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze for at least 1 hr, or wrap tightly and freeze up to 1 month.

6. When you're ready to make the scones, preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange the frozen dough squares 1 1/2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until the edges are toasted and golden brown, 10-12 min.

*You can purchase crème fraîche or make your own. To make your own, you'll need:

2 cups heavy cream
2 Tbsp buttermilk

Whisk together the cream and the buttermilk in a container. Cover and set the mixture aside at room temperature for 24 hours. It should become thick and tangy. You can refrigerate what you do not use for up to 2 weeks.

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