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Exploring Womanhood > Heart of the Home > Cooking > Breads, Rolls, etc.

Prize-Winning Scones
by Jennifer A. Wickes

When I was pregnant with my second son, my husband, son and I went on a long weekend to visit my mother-in-law. My husband's grandmother was visiting for her 80th birthday, so we felt it was a perfect time to make the trip. It was early June, and we decided to head over to this outdoor place that sells handcrafted items for your home and food. While there, we tasted the most scrumptious strawberry scones! They were sweet and creamy! Usually, scones tend to be dry and need a lot of butter or cream to be spread over them, so you can swallow them. But not these! My husband, who is not fond of anything sweet, even enjoyed them. When we came home, while the taste was still fresh in my head, I decided to attempt to duplicate this recipe!

I found some strawberry scone recipes on the Internet. I looked at the ingredients to get an idea of the ratio of flour to butter to milk. Once I had noticed a basic pattern involved, I decided to research the purpose of each ingredient.

When baking, fat adds moisture and flavor. Being these scones were extremely moist and flavorful, I figured using heavy cream in lieu of milk would be wise. I also learned that there is a chemical component in red berries that turn blue when heated. The only way to avoid this is to create an acidic environment. With this information, I decided that using buttermilk or yogurt in the recipe would help the strawberries look bright red.

Using unsalted butter in baking is best. Why? Well, salt is used as a preservative, and you may have heard that the fresher the ingredients, the better the end result. Also, too much salt added in baking only toughens the flour. I wanted a moist scone, not a tough one, so unsalted butter was my choice.

The flour used in scones is typically all-purpose or plain flour. Cake flour is too light and cannot handle being processed like a scone. Bread flour has too much protein.

With this information, I felt ready to tackle my new goal, strawberry scones!

As luck would have it, with all of my research, my recipe was a success the first time! My whole family loved them! I even entered them in a competition through Cook's Illustrated. My recipe won the Grand Prize and was featured in their sister publication, Cook's Country (June/July 2005). What surprised me most was that there was a cameo of me on the front cover, and my recipe was an entire page spread with a color photo of my scones!

I am very proud of my creation and hope you are too!

Strawberry Scones

Serve with a dollop of clotted cream (and a cup of tea, of course)for an elegant afternoon snack. For tender scones, avoid overhandling the dough.

2 large eggs
1 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting work surface
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
2/3 cup strawberries, hulled and chopped

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Beat 1 egg with 1 tablespoon cream in small bowl. Set aside. Whisk remaining egg, remaining 1/4 cup cream, buttermilk, and vanilla together in medium bowl.

2. Pulse flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt in food processor until blended. Add butter and pulse into flour until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, about ten 1-second pulses. Transfer mixture to large bowl and make well in center. Add buttermilk mixture and stir until batter forms moist clumps. Carefully stir in strawberries.

3. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead gently until dough comes together and is smooth, about 10 seconds. Pat dough into 7-inch circle about 1 inch thick. Using sharp knife, cut circle into 8 wedges. With pastry brush, remove excess flour from wedges. Transfer wedges to prepared baking sheet, brush tops with egg and cream glaze, and sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

4. Bake until lightly browned and toothpick inserted in center of scones comes out with a few crumbs attached, about 15 minutes. Transfer scones to wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. (Cooled scones can be stored in airtight container for up to 2 days.)

Yields: 8 servings

Jennifer A. Wickes is a freelance food writer, recipe developer and cookbook reviewer. She has written several eBooks, and has had numerous articles, reviews and recipes in printed publications, as well as on-line. She is working on her first cookbook. For more information about Jennifer or her work, please visit her home page: http://home.comcast.net/~culinaryjen/Home.html

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