Since the coronation of King Charles and the American Mother’s Day fall just over a week from one another, I couldn’t help but think of making scones in honor of both events. (Of course I watched the whole coronation…well, at least from the time I awoke. Enchanting it was – especially the choir.) There’s nothing like a basket of gorgeous scones to set off a festive brunch or holiday tea and they’re both easy to make (I promise!) and very fast, particularly if you use a food processor. The only big decision will be….What kind of scones will you make? Scroll down for ideas or if you’re quite serious, you can order the wondrous Scots baker and fiction writer, Sue Lawrence’s fine book, SCOTTISH BAKING for the real deal scoop. I had a basket of lovely fresh strawberries on hand and a small jar of toasted almonds leftover from a salad, so there was little question about what I’d do. I adore strawberries with chocolate, so I thought I’d toss in just a few mini chocolate chips to gild that lily and quite soon, Strawberry-Chocolate Chip Scones with Almonds were born. And, if I do say say so myself, they’re fabulous. I want them again.Jump to Recipe
I did begin with a batch of plain strawberry scones–a very American version — to take to our church’s Sunday morning bake sale benefiting our youth trips. No nuts for this bake as we have members with nut allergies and hence support a nut-free campus. While I only had eight, I’ll tell you I sold out! (Phew.) If nuts or chocolate are no-nos for you, be assured this recipe works fine without them. Be sure to swap in vanilla extract for the almond extract for nut allergies.
MUST I USE A FOOD PROCESSOR?
Longtime readers know I’m a lazy cook and will use a machine whenever I can, so these scones are made or at least begun using my trusty food processor. That is definitely NOT a must for scones. The start of the dough involves mixing dry ingredients and cutting butter into them and it can be done with a food processor or in a bowl with a pastry cutter, a table fork, two table knives, or your own best tools–your hands, particularly your fingers. If you skip the food processor, you’ll have one less bowl to wash.
Scroll down and watch Mary Berry’s video about making scones to see how to use your fingers. It’s from 1979 and is a hoot to watch. And, by the way, she uses self-rising flour plus baking powder.
Here are a few photos so you can see how easy and quick these little ditties can be:
Did I tell you how happy people will be when you try this?
Strawberry-Chocolate Chip Scones with Almonds
- 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 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup frozen salted butter (4 oz/115 grams) cut into 1/2-inch slices or pieces
- ¼ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup diced fresh strawberries, 8-9 medium-sized strawberries
- ½ cup (190 millileters)sour cream or full-fat Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup (60 millileters) milk
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 1 large egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water
- ¼ cup (17.5 grams) sliced almonds, toasted
- PREP: Preheat oven to 400 degrees with a rack in the upper third. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toast almonds (see last ingredient) and set aside to cool.
- MIX DRY INGREDIENTS/CUT IN BUTTER: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade or in a large bowl if using a pastry cutter or your fingers, measure in the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Pulse or stir a few times to mix. Add the pieces of butter and pulse carefully 8-10 times if using the machine (or cut in with pastry cutter/crumble-mash with fingers) until you have pea-sized and smaller pieces of butter.
- TURN OUT FLOUR MIXTURE INTO A LARGE BOWL (if not already using the bowl) and stir in the diced strawberries and mini chocolate chips. Whisk together the sour cream or yogurt with the milk and almond extract and pour 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 needn’t be uniform, smooth, or neat. Dump the dough out onto a floured surface and form into a rough ball.
- PAT DOUGH with floured hands into a 1-inch-thick rectangle approximately 6” x 10”. Brush with lightly with some of the egg mixture. Scatter the almond slices evenly, pat gently into dough, and sprinkle with a little granulated sugar–about 2 teaspoons. (You will have egg leftover. Cook it for the dogs or you.) Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes. Using a bench scraper or a knife, cut into first 2, then 4, then 8 (or then 16 for small scones) rectangles. Place on prepared sheet pan as far apart as possible as the scones will spread quite a bit. To help the scones keep their shape, you could freeze the tray for 10 minutes before baking at this point.
- BAKE scones 18-22 minutes. The scones should be golden on the bottom and have golden patches on the top. Remove to a rack and cool for a minute or two before serving warm. Scones will keep for a day or two, well-covered. To reheat, split in half lengthwise, spread lightly with butter, and grill until toasty and hot in a stove top grill pan or skillet.
About preheating the oven: Since this dough is refrigerated for 30 minutes, you could wait until then to preheat your oven if you’re sure it heats quickly; mine — a gas oven — is fairly slow to preheat and so I preheat before I begin mixing dough.
CHANGE IT UP:
Fruit: This scone recipe works with peaches, blueberries, etc. Scroll down for other ideas and recipes. The original recipe uses frozen fruit. There is no reason you can’t leave the scones plain and add butter and jam or sour cream and honey at the table. Making ahead: Scones are best on the day they’re made. But as I wrote in the recipe head note, you can make and cut the dough, and freeze it to bake from frozen another day. Place the frozen scones on a lined baking tray and let them rest there while the oven preheats. This great tip is in Dorie Greenspan’s lovely book, BAKING WITH DORIE, which — by the way — has several wonderful scone recipes. No mini chocolate chips on hand? You could do a chocolate drizzle instead. I wouldn’t use regular chocolate chips in the scones; I think they’re too big. You might also try finely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, though I haven’t done it.
Cutting the scones... You can easily use a cookie or biscuit cutter to cut your scones if you like though I believe there’s less waste with scones cut with a knife or bench scraper. The smaller you want to cut the scones, the colder the dough should be. For really tiny, bite-sized scones, freeze the dough for 15 minutes or so before cutting. Reroll the dough for a second cutting as needed but don’t work the dough too hard. The first cut scones are best tasting. Cutting Tip: For both biscuits and scones, if using a biscuit cutter or knife or bench scraper to cut them, use a firm down and up movement for cutting. Do not twist the cutter or knife as you raise it to insure a fully risen, beautiful biscuit or scone.
ABOUT SCOTTISH SCONES from Sue Lawrence... ... Some were plain, some had currants or sultanas, some were mixed with syrup, some with buttermilk or sour milk to give an especially good rise. But they were just there, on the tea table, ready to be gently torn open with your fingers, then smeared with butter and jam; whipped or clotted cream was for effete southerners only.
And since they take only minutes to prepare and a mere 12 minutes to bake, scones are the perfect Fast Food -- quick, easy, delicious! Split in half by pulling apart gently (never cut a freshly baked scone with a knife) then smear with butter and - unless it is a savory scone - a good smear of jam. The whipped or clotted cream and jam ritual also had its place, but it is somehow not as homely as the butter-jam combo.
In Scotland, scones were traditionally baked on the "girdle" in the days when only the big houses had ovens. Girdle scones (sometimes differentiated by being called soda scones) look different, are often triangular in shape and usually a little flatter than their oven-baked counterparts. ~Sue Lawrence, SCOTTISH BAKING.
Baker’s Note: Sue’s scones are baked at 425 degrees F and hence bake more quickly.
British or American? With a machine or by hand? Plain or with fruit? Butter? Jam? Honey? You decide.
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And if you want Coronation Chicken, too, check out this Jamie Oliver video.
LIFE GOES ON:
Watching King Charles’ coronation was a highlight of the week, but let’s face it; it came a little early even for a Saturday morning. My day then included a not-too-long but much-needed nap. I spent most of my adult life never napping but now feel free to jump back in bed when the need arises. No guilt, no worry over what I didn’t accomplish, just a real sense of feeling good about taking care of myself. The dogs are thrilled to go with me. Of course they have never had a problem with sleeping during the day. Or any other time.
Not celebrating a mother this week? The scones are perfect for that, too.
Thanks for keeping me company in the kitchen; you’re always welcome and appreciated,