For those of us who live in Colorado –and lots of other places, too — late summer is indeed a special time because…peaches. Palisades peaches (mostly known as Colorado peaches in other states) are some of the best examples of this gorgeous juicy fruit anywhere. Our peaches are only a bit smaller than their California cousins and perhaps a tad more tender than their Georgia sisters, and that’s what makes them oh-so-special. There is, to me, the tiniest edge of lemon in our local fruit; the acid helps make them even more pleasing. They are, as you’d guess, best eaten out of hand but when you’re flush with peaches (oh, please, God, let that happen to me), there are a few other ways to enjoy them! Pies, cobblers, salsa, cheesecake, and ice cream come to mind–but there’s also one of Alyce’s newest favorites...Peach Scones. Why shouldn’t Palisades peaches make an appearance in breakfast, brunch, and tea-time pastries?
Throwing together food for an office-warming open house for our new pastor at First Congregational Church of Colorado Springs gave me good reason to test this recipe more than a few times. (Come hear Rev. Lee Ann Bryce on Sunday!) Goldilocks style, I made them large, medium, small, and then smaller — going even beyond baby bear stage. The very smallest ones seemed to make the most sense for folks coming and going past trays of different goodies, but they took a little finagling to accomplish. 2″ x 2″, I couldn’t get them to maintain size or shape without a thorough chilling. While you can chill scone dough — like if you want to bake them off in the morning but make the dough the night before — it’s not necessarily part of the process. For capital-T Tiny scones (the 2″ x 2″ ones), I patted out the dough, stuck it in a gallon freezer bag, and let it get nice and cold in the chilliest part of my fridge, which is, oddly enough, the top shelf. I tried a half hour, but next — by mistake as I had to eat lunch — left it an hour and found that did it the most good. The cold dough cut more easily and the pastries were more likely to maintain their shape in a hot (400 F) oven–much like pie dough. Should you want even smaller one-bite-sized scones , I’d advise a time in the freezer before cutting and baking. By the way, you can get fresh scones at the last minute by making the dough ahead, cutting it, freezing it on a baking sheet, and baking them whenever you need them and also in the amount you need. They’ll only need a couple of extra minutes in the oven.
Scones are a lot like biscuits if you’re a biscuit baker from way back as am I:
Pronunciation tidbit: In Scotland, scone is pronounced scawn, rhyming with dawn.
While it’s a tish hot to bake during the dog days of August, you can pretend it’s not hot (turn the AC on if you have it) or get up o-dark-early while it’s still all cool, make your coffee, and try this:
- 2 cups/255 grams unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the counter or board
- ½ cup/100 grams granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling on scones before baking or freezing
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup frozen salted butter, 4 oz/115 grams, cut into ¼-inch slices or pieces
- 1 cup /190 grams peeled, pitted, and diced fresh ripe peaches, patted dry with paper or cloth towels
- ½ cup (190ml) sour cream or full-fat Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup (60ml) milk
- 1 large egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water
- PREP: Preheat oven to 400 degrees with a rack in the upper third. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- MIX DRY INGREDIENTS/CUT IN BUTTER: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade (or in a large bowl using a pastry cutter or your fingers), measure in the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Pulse or stir a few times to mix. Add the pieces of butter and pulse (or cut in/rub in) carefully 6-8 times or until you have pea-sized and smaller pieces of butter.
- TURN OUT FLOUR MIXTURE INTO A LARGE BOWL and stir in the peaches. Whisk together the sour cream or yogurt and milk and pour that into the bowl. Using a table fork, stir until all the dry bits are incorporated, but the dough is still shaggy. Knead a few times until the dough barely holds together, then turn it out onto a lightly floured counter or board. The dough shouldn’t be uniform, smooth, or neat. Do not overwork dough.
- PAT DOUGH with floured hands into a 1-inch-thick rectangle approximately 6 ½” x 12 ½”. Brush with the egg mixture and sprinkle with a little granulated sugar. Using a bench scraper or a knife, cut into first 2, then 4, then 8 (or then 16 for small scones) rectangles. (See Cook's Notes on info for even smaller scones.) for Place on prepared sheet pan as far apart as possible.
- BAKE scones until golden, 18-22 minutes. Remove to a rack and cool for a minute or two before serving warm. Scones will keep for a day or two, well-covered but are best when fresh. To reheat, split in half lengthwise, spread lightly with butter, and grill until toasty and hot in a stove top grill pan or skillet. Freeze extras in a Ziplock freezer bag for 2 months.
PEELING PEACHES: You can peel peaches with a knife, a vegetable peeler, or one of the soft-fruit peelers (double serrated blade) -- or just dip them in boiling water for about a minute, pull out, cool briefly, and peel easily.
CHANGE IT UP: As I noted in the recipe, scones can be made in a variety of sizes. You can use no fruit or other fruit like blueberries (with citrus zest, please) strawberries or raspberries or blackberries (or a combination), but also remember chopped fresh cherries, apricots, chocolate chips, raisins, currants, dried apricots, and…whatever else your little heart desires. Some folks make scones with buttermilk. Google up some other recipes and see about that. Drizzling cooled baked scones with icing is an American thing and might appeal to some of you.
CUTTING FOOD COSTS/AVOIDING WASTE FOR THIS DISH: I buy butter in 4-pound packages at COSTCO to save a little; it is precious right now, I know. Flour and sugar I grab when on sale and store extra in a cool dark spot as the dates are usually long. You won’t waste anything when you make scones but will gobble them all up within a day or two. Can’t manage that? As noted, you can make the dough ahead, freeze it, and only bake off exactly what you’ll need. That’s great for solos, duets, or those of us who want to limit our scone intake. But why?
IF YOU LIKED THIS, YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE MY:
Don’t follow a GF diet? Make this cheesecake anyway. Here, GF simply means a nut crust instead of one made using wheat or graham flour and cheesecake adores a nutty bottom! More protein, right?
LIFE GOES ON:
Driving down the street the other day by Penrose-St. Francis Hospital, I saw a few nuns in habit (so unusual today, but so common in my childhood); this one was crossing the road wearing cute Sketcher sneakers. Loved it.
Thanks for keeping me company in the kitchen while I baked 170 scones this week.
Hope you’re all peachy,