At my church we have the service and then the Sunday school hour after with a short break in between. During the fall/winter/spring each adult Sunday school class is in charge of making and serving coffee during the break for a month. We have always taken a break for the summer months, because people don’t drink coffee when it is hot outside. But wait a minute…I drink coffee in the summer! So this year I volunteered to take care of the summer coffee with some help from my family. Then I thought it would be fun to provide some biscotti for people to munch on with their coffee. Then we thought, hey, why not put a basket out and make it a fundraiser for a church camp scholarship fund that was in need of some extra dollars? Then I made the mistake of making scones.
Bake sales are a tried-and-true fundraising idea. Much easier than a full meal, and for some reason people seem to be more willing to give some money for a baked good than anything else. I’m a bit baffled as to why this is, but since baking and serving baked goods is simpler than savory food, oh well. The biscotti I could make days ahead of time; they get better with age. The scones I made the night before, because the morning of was not an option. The scones proved to be way more popular, which is where the mistake comes in. I like to give people what they want, so I found myself spending some late nights making scones.
Fortunately scones are ridiculously easy. With one simple scone recipe I was able to make a variety of different flavors to change it up a bit each week: honey cinnamon, currant, lavender, chocolate chip, almond cardamom, and lemon. This method also proved to be very forgiving as one week I forgot to buy half and half and proceeded with just water; another week, again forgetting the half and half, I melted down and used some homemade vanilla ice cream and cut the sugar back by about half. As you can see in the picture I cut them on the smaller side, although one lady still asked me if I had any smaller ones, and I don’t spend a lot of time making them uniform. The less you mess the more tender they will be (they’re just biscuits, after all!), so the quicker they can go from mixer to oven the better. I’m willing to sacrifice some aesthetics for taste.
Basic Scone Recipe
Makes 3 dozen small scones
- 6 cups all-purpose Flour
- 6 Tbsp granulated Sugar
- 3 Tbsp Baking Powder
- 1/2 Tbsp table Salt
- 1/2 lb unsalted Butter (2 sticks), refrigerated
- 3 cups Half and Half, refrigerated
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
- Take the butter out of the refrigerator, cut it into tablespoon-size pieces, and drop into the flour.
- Using the mixer’s flat beater cut in the butter. Start the mixer on lowest setting then gradually move it up a notch or two as the butter begins cut in and the risk of flour flying everywhere lessens. Many will say to do this until it looks like coarse cornmeal, but I like to stop the mixer and feel it. If you feel chunks of butter it needs more time. It should feel like soft sand. A few small chunks of butter won’t hurt much. (You can do this all by hand, but I would do it in third batches, unless you’re really good at cutting in butter by hand. You don’t want the butter to melt too much.)
- With the mixer on the lowest setting, slowly pour in the half and half. Mix it just until everything in incorporated. Even if it is a little crumbly still that is fine, because you can pat it together as you form it.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly flour surface and pat it into a ball. Cut the ball in half and then each half into thirds (so you will have 6 pieces of dough).
- Pat each piece into a disc about 1/2 inch thick. Cut the disc into 6 triangles.
- Transfer the triangle to a baking sheet (I use USA Pans for my baked goods and do not need to use parchment paper, but you can use parchment if you find they stick).
- Bake about 20 minutes
- Honey Cinnamon – add a tablespoon of cinnamon to the dry ingredients and 3 tablespoons of honey as you add the half and half.
- Currant – add a cup of currants just before adding the half and half.
- Lavender – add 1-1/2 Tbsp of dried lavender to the dry ingredients.
- Chocolate Chip – add one 12oz bag of chocolate chips right after the half and half.
- Almond Cardamom – Replace one cup of flour with almond flour and add a tablespoon of ground cardamom to the dry ingredients. you could also mix in slivered almonds just before adding the half and half.
- Lemon – add the zest of one or two lemons to the dry ingredients and add the juice along with the half and half.
- The batter should feel moist but not sticky (everyone groaning right now needs to grow up). If it doesn’t want to hold together add a little more half and half or just some water. If it is sticking to the cutting board sprinkle on some more flour.
- If you can’t bake them all at one time put some of the dough into the refrigerator.
- For a glossier finish brush with some extra half and half or milk before baking. Sprinkle with some chunky sugar for a crunchy top.
- Americans tend to think scones have to be gigantic and super sweet. These are not. Enjoy them with some butter, clotted cream, or creme fraiche, along with coffee or hot tea.