There is almost nothing simpler to whip up for a snack or breakfast than scones. They have the added advantage of being incredibly versatile. Scones were a constant in the bakery’s market days. With a good variety of ingredients stockpiled, we were prepared for almost anything we could dream up. You’ll find other scone recipes on this blog – raspberry, currant spice, and pumpkin pecan – but those represent just a fraction of the kinds we made. In this recipe you can use caramel chips, caramel with sea salt chips, half caramel/half chocolate chips, or skip the caramel and pecans entirely and replace them with oh, I don’t know – dried cherries and chunk chocolate maybe? Scone variations are like having a few thoughtfully picked wardrobe items that are mix and match. And when you make them yourself, they are nothing like those dry, stale things sold in airports and questionable coffee shops. You, the baker, can enjoy them warm from the oven while they are at their best.
If you do a lot of baking it’s helpful to keep 1/2 cup portions of cut-up butter in the freezer. We started doing this in the bakery so we’d always be ready to mix up pie dough but it’s helpful for scones and other baked goods too. It makes it less likely you’ll overwork the dough and get the butter so warm it all melts, preventing the flour from coating the pieces of butter. Pulsing flour and cold butter in a food processor until pea-sized pieces of butter remain helps make doughs light and flaky. You can put the flour/butter mix back in the freezer for 20-30 minutes if it needs to cool down before adding the rest of the ingredients.
Contrary to what a lot of calorie-conscious types seem to assume, scones are not nearly as sugary or laden with fat as many other pastries. This recipe for a dozen has only about 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of butter. Each scone is roughly comparable to buttered toast with jam. Your diet can afford that afternoon break.
– Joan, 20 March 2020
Caramel pecan scones
- 2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (130 grams) spelt or whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup (114 grams) cold butter, cut into pieces
- 1/3 cup (64 grams) sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon (yes, tablespoon) baking powder
- 1 cup (227 grams) half and half
- 1 egg
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract, or butterscotch or maple flavoring, or a mixture of 2 kinds
- 1 cup (170 grams) caramel chips, or caramel sea salt or chocolate chips, or a mixture of 2 kinds
- 1/2 cup (56 grams) pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 1 egg white, milk or cream for brushing tops
- 1/4 cup (42 grams) caramel or other chips, coarsely chopped
- confectioner’s sugar for topping, optional
To toast pecans, bake halves in a single layer at 350°F for 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes before using a sharp knife to coarsely chop into pieces. Set aside. Turn oven up to 400°F. and line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Pulse the flours with the cold butter in a food processor until the butter is the size of peas. By hand, stir in sugar, salt, and baking powder, then stir in chips and pecan pieces. Whisk together egg, extract or flavoring, and half and half. Pour into dry mixture and use a fork to mix, just until everything comes together.
Divide dough into 3 pieces, about 350 grams per piece. Sprinkle a little flour on your hands and pat each piece into a circle about 5″ across and at least 1″ thick. Use a bench knife or large sharp knife to cut each into quarters. Spread the cut pieces apart by 1″. Brush tops with slightly beaten egg white, milk or cream. Sprinkle chopped caramel chips on the tops. Bake at 400°F for 16-20 minutes. Check after about 15 minutes to make sure the top chips aren’t burning. Remove baked scones, still on the parchment paper, to a cooling grid. Put a few tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar in a fine sieve and shake it over the scones. Allow to cool about 10 minutes before serving, or cool completely and store in a covered container for 2-3 days. After cooling these can be frozen in a ziplock freezer bag. Warm before serving.