I keep butter in my freezer at all times for scone baking emergencies.
They used to intimidate me; one bad batch – which would have been flattered to be called hockey pucks – had me thinking I would never make a successful scone.
Learning Nigella Lawson’s trick of grating frozen butter into the flour was a game changer and now I find them to be one of the easiest, and fastest, things to bake when suddenly craving something sweet to eat with a bit of jam or butter.
They are also one of the most adaptable things to bake: lemon zest and glaze for a spring scone, chocolate or spices for fall, cheese and herbs for a savoury version.
This also makes them perfect for bits and pieces one may find in their baking cupboard.
So, when I discovered a handful of candied ginger leftover from a cupcake project and an uncracked jar of Devonshire cream at the back of the fridge (who impulse buys Devonshire cream? Me, apparently.), it was clearly time to make some scones.
Even if it was 11 at night.
After quickly whisking together the dry ingredients, grate in the frozen butter. This creates the perfect little nuggets of butter easily incorporated in the rest of the dough. When they hit the heat of the oven, they melt, creating the flaky layers that make scones so tender and light.
Sometimes I will cut out my scones, in circles or squares, using biscuit cutters or an upended glass. But other times, I like to just pat the dough into a circle and cut it into wedges for something a bit more rustic . . . and fewer things to wash.
Candied Ginger Scones
- 2 cups (500 mL) flour
- 1/3 cup (80 mL) sugar
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) baking powder
- ¼ tsp (1 mL) salt
- ¼ to ½ cup (60 to 125 mL) candied ginger, chopped
- ½ cup (125 mL) butter, frozen
- ¾ cup (180 mL) cream, plus more for brushing the scone tops.
- 1 egg
Preheat oven to 400F (200C).
In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and chopped ginger. Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the frozen butter into the dry ingredients. With your fingertips, gently toss the flour and butter until thoroughly combined. In a small bowl, mix together egg and cream. Pour into the butter-flour mix and stir until just combined. (Sometimes an extra tablespoon or two of cream is necessary, but the mixture should not be very wet.)
Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and squish together, patting it into a circle about an inch (2.5-cm) thick.
Cut the circle into eight wedges and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving space between them to grow.
Brush lightly with cream.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden.