The best way to enjoy scones will never change: spread jam and clotted cream over a plain or fruit scone and enjoy with a cup of tea. Yet scones have a versatility as well that has inspired, especially in the blogosphere, some creative variations for our quintessential tea-time treat. One fun and irresistible variation that I’ve discovered is the Cadbury Mini Egg Scone.
This creation is from Sues at the well-known food and lifestyle blog We are Not Martha | But Can’t We Try?. I met Sues a couple of years ago when she was teaching blogging courses at the Boston Center for Adult Education, and this recipe illustrates the joy she brings to cooking and baking.
Along with Cadbury Mini Eggs, the ingredients include Cabot Greek-style vanilla bean yogurt, which contributes flavor and a flaky texture to the scones. In part because I’m still trying to master the art of combining cold butter into a flour mixture, I decreased the amount of butter. And while Sues chops her Cadbury Mini Eggs, my knife skills made chopping impossible, so I crushed the candy instead.
For detailed and entertaining instructions, plus a wild suggestion for adding a glaze on top of the scones, visit Sues at WeAreNotMartha.com.
Cadbury Mini Egg Scones
2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 sticks of cold butter (I used only 1 stick)
1/4 cup of sugar
3/4 cup of vanilla Greek yogurt (e.g., Cabot’s Greek-style vanilla bean yogurt)
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1/2 cup of milk
1 cup of Cadbury Mini Eggs, chopped or crushed
Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
Cut butter into small pieces and combine with flour until it resembles coarse meal.
Add yogurt, vanilla, and milk.
Add chopped or crushed Cadbury Mini Eggs.
Mix together until dough forms.
Place half of the dough on a floured surface and roll into an 8-inch circle.
Cut into 6 triangles and place on parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake at 350º for 17-20 minutes.
Repeat with the remaining batter.
Needing a larger quantity than 12, I made smaller scones, more like cookie-sized. I also made a batch of full-sized scones, and both versions produced a satisfying and unique experience: flavorful and moist with sweet pleasure from the bits of candy. The pastel shells added a sense of springtime joy as well. This recipe offers a creative and delicious use for your leftover Cadbury Mini Eggs, although simply eating the candy on its own is always satisfying as well!
While my Irish ancestry runs deep, I had never experienced the traditional Irish-American meal of corned beef and cabbage until college, when my friend Beth hosted an elaborate St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Years later we still reminisce about her amazing and authentic feast, which included one St. Patrick’s Day tradition that was familiar to me from childhood: Irish soda bread. Beth recently shared her recipe with me, and I am now inspired to start my own tradition of making this bread every St. Patrick’s Day!
Beth is an interior designer with wonderful creativity in the kitchen. Her recipe, which she learned from her grandmother, includes buttermilk, sour cream, raisins, and baking powder instead of baking soda. Beth recommends enjoying the bread with a cup of Irish breakfast tea. One option is Mark T. Wendell’s Irish Breakfast Tea, which Bonnie recently reviewed at Thirsty for Tea. I have not yet tried this tea and am looking forward to enjoying some in the near future.
For anyone seeking a bolder accompaniment, Beth has another suggestion. The other day she hosted an Irish coffee social, where she and her neighbors enjoyed her Irish soda bread with Irish coffee: a mixture of coffee and Irish whiskey (Beth used Jameson’s) topped with freshly whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon and/or nutmeg. Coffee-flavored drinks don’t appeal to me (not even whiskey!), so my tamer option was a nice cup of herbal tea, Mint Medley from Bigelow Tea.
Grandma’s Irish Soda Bread
3 cups of flour
3/4 cup of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
4 teaspoons of baking powder
2 tablespoons of shortening
1/4 cup of buttermilk
1 cup of raisins
3/4 pint (1 1/2 cups) of sour cream
Preheat oven to 350º
Sift together flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.
Add shortening and buttermilk. Mix until well blended.
Mix in sour cream until dough forms.
Grease and flour cast iron skillet.
Add dough to skillet.
If desired, carve an X into the top of the dough.
Bake in skillet for 30 minutes. Check on the status.
Bake for another 20-30 minutes.
If needed, cover with foil for the last 15 minutes or so to prevent the raisins from burning.
Since I did not have a cast iron skillet, I substituted with a round cake pan. Also, raisins are not my favorite flavoring and were omitted. And my overall presentation, including my attempt to draw an X on top, needs work. Yet even with my little flaws and adjustments, the outcome was a delight. My bread was moist and sweet and dense, with a taste that was familiar and yet still a revelation. Making this Irish soda bread left me even more in touch with my Irish and Irish-American roots and the traditions of St. Patrick’s Day. Thanks to Beth for sharing her grandma’s recipe!
Despite my still questionable scone-making ability, I requested Sara’s recipe. Trying to bake like her would be impossible for me, but I welcomed the challenge.
And the challenge started with the ingredients. Sara’s scones include three of her baking staples: organic flour, plain yogurt, and crème fraîche. I forgot to buy organic flour, so all-purpose flour had to serve as a substitute. And crème fraîche was a mystery to me. Fortunately her recipe listed milk as an alternative. (I now know that crème fraîche would have been easy to make: combine 1 cup of heavy cream with 2 tablespoons of buttermilk, cover, and let sit at room temperature for 12-24 hours. Click here for more detailed instructions. I’ll try this next time.)
At her tea party Sara served two types of scones: almond and cranberry. The almond scones were especially popular. Since I don’t eat nuts, her cranberry scones were my choice. But I did not choose cranberries for my own scones. Instead I added the baking staple that is never missing from my cupboard: chocolate chips.
So while my version of these scones lacked all the elegance of Sara’s baking, her tea party, and the tea and scones culture, I enjoyed the effort. Next time I’ll use the proper ingredients, including homemade crème fraîche.
Scones made with yogurt and crème fraîche
This recipe is tea-party sized (32 scones). The ingredients can be halved.
4 cups of organic flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2/3 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of baking soda
2 sticks of butter, softened and cut into small pieces
1 cup of any of the following: broken almonds or other nuts, dried cranberries or other dried fruit, or any other desired add-in
1/2 cup of plain yogurt
1/2 cup of crème fraîche (or substitute with 1/2 cup of milk)
Fancy sugar (optional)
Sara uses a stand mixer to combine ingredients.
Combine flour, salt, baking soda, and sugar.
Blend butter into the dry ingredients until beads of dough form.
Mix in almonds, dried cranberries, or other add-ins.
Add the plain yogurt and crème fraîche (or plain yogurt and milk).
Mix until dough forms.
Divide dough in half.
Turn out one half of the dough onto a floured surface.
Roll or press dough into a square about 8 or 9 inches on each side, about 1/2 inch thick.
Slice dough into 4 quarters, and then create triangles, like this:
Separate scones onto parchment lined baking sheet.
Sprinkle with fancy sugar, if desired.
Bake at 425° for 10-12 minutes.
While first batch is baking, repeat steps 8-11 with the other half of the dough.
As expected, my scones lacked the elegance of Sara’s, and not just because of the substitutions. My precision when rolling and cutting the dough needs improvement.
Still, I was satisfied with the result. These scones are moist and flavorful with the crumbly texture typical of scones. Despite appearances, I feel as if great scones, or at least good ones, are within my reach.
A year and a half ago, a batch of homemade scones would have been made in someone else’s home, not mine. Now a year of experimenting with homemade scones has created a small sense of accomplishment for this tea and scone journey of mine. Just a small sense, though, because scones humble me as well. Despite the relative simplicity of the ingredients, the process of combining cold butter into a flour mixture remains my nemesis. Yet scones are part of my life now, and the experiments continue.
My latest scones were based on a recipe for Buttermilk Scones, with the option to substitute for the buttermilk with plain yogurt. A substitute for cold butter would have been more welcome, but this recipe is intriguing nonetheless. While the yogurt does not make these scones healthy, this recipe inspires me because of its connection to four women who share a commitment to natural, homemade foods.
The first inspiration is my friend Sara.
Sara is the mother of three who makes her meals from all-natural ingredients and uses local and organic products whenever possible. In her ideal world, Sara would live on a farm and grow all of her own ingredients. When I asked her for a scone recipe, she referred me to celebrity chef and modern pioneer Georgia Pellegrini and her 2010 book Food Heroes:16 Culinary Artisans Preserving Tradition.
One of the culinary artisans featured in the book was Sue Forrester from Cumbria, England. Sadly passing away at age 63 shortly after the book appeared, Sue Forrester was known for her hand-made Cream of Cumbria butter, as well as for her “Butter Poetry,” which she enjoyed composing during the butter-making process.
A chapter about butter, poetry, and England of course must include a scone recipe. Georgia Pellegrini adapted a recipe from Cumbria’s celebrity food artisan and one of Sue Forrester’s customers, Annette Gibbons OBE (Officer in the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire). Annette Gibbons is author of Home Grown in Cumbria and has been recognized for her services to Cumbria’s Food and Farming Industries.
To do justice to these women and their commitment to natural, locally sourced food, the butter and buttermilk should be homemade (Food Heroes includes instructions for both), as well as the yogurt (my friend Sara makes her own yogurt). I’m satisfied with working on scones for now and saving butter and yogurt making for another time. As a compromise, I shopped at Whole Foods and bought Kate’s Homemade Butter (produced in nearby Maine) and 365 Organic Low Fat Plain yogurt.
In this recipe (used with permission), Georgia Pelligrini adds prunes to the scones and suggests cooked and crumbled bacon, grated cheese, or any other dried fruit as alternatives. My fruit additions paid tribute to a scone I discovered last year at a farmer’s market: strawberry and coconut. Again, I should have dried my own strawberries and coconut, but since I have no idea what that involves, I turned to Whole Foods for freeze-dried strawberries and shredded coconut, both free of additives and sweeteners.
Buttermilk Scones (made with yogurt)
3 cups all-purpose flour
2½ teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons powdered sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
½ cup prunes, coarsely chopped, or any other flavoring tidbits (using my version, ½ cup of dried strawberries and ½ cup of shredded coconut – more of each if desired)
About 1½ cups plain natural yogurt or buttermilk
1 large egg white, lightly beaten (Optional)
Preheat the oven to 425º F.
Combine the flour, baking powder, powdered sugar, and salt in a large bowl.
Rub the butter into the flour mixture with your fingers until it resembles fine sand.
Toss in the prunes or other flavorings. (Dried strawberries and coconut for me)
Gradually stir in the yogurt (or buttermilk), stirring until the dough just barely comes together. If you find you need more yogurt, add a teaspoon at a time so you don’t overdo it.
Turn the dough out onto a floured board and press down gently. Lightly roll or use your fingers to flatten the dough to about ¾ inch thick.
Using a ⅔-inch round cutter or an upside-down cup, stamp out scones and place them on a baking sheet. (If you use dried strawberries, push the fruit deeper into the scones. Some of my strawberries were sitting on top and got a bit burnt.)
Brush the tops with egg white, if you’d like, for a shiny touch. (I skipped this step)
Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Eat immediately to enjoy them at their best, or let cool completely and freeze. To serve, thaw at room temperate and fill with fresh whipped double cream and thick strawberry jam.
These scones have a fluffy texture with a moist and buttery taste that lacks the crumbly quality of many scones. Even though the taste and texture may differ, the effect of spreading jam and cream and serving with tea creates a wonderful scone experience. While I’m far from mastering scones or qualifying as a food artisan, this recipe inspired me to continue my efforts and also to consider more deeply the rewards of natural, homemade foods.
Dorene enjoys not just visiting tea rooms for her tea and scones, but also hosting her own afternoon tea and cream tea affairs.
Not surprisingly, my potential as a tea party hostess remains limited. I have, however, taken the first step by starting to bake scones. After trying a few different recipes, including the Classic Cream Scone recipe that Dorene uses (see below), despite some challenges, I better understand the devotion so many people show towards scones.
My greatest challenge has been mixing cold butter into the dry ingredients, a standard step in most recipes. Some recipes suggest a pastry blender, which I keep forgetting to buy. Two knives used scissor fashion is another suggestion, but this trick is beyond either my comprehension or skill (or both). Other recipes suggest using your fingers, which I find rather tiring. During my first attempt at scones, I wished I could just stop and make chocolate chip cookies instead.
But now that my scone-baking journey has started, I am determined to improve. Upcoming attempts include some yogurt based scones and, if I can find the courage, one of Kelsie’s creative concoctions at For the Love of Scones.
Here is the classic cream scone recipe that Dorene uses.
Classic Cream Scones
Makes about 14 scones
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, chilled
1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1 large egg
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Optional: ¼ cup chocolate chips and ¼ cup pecans OR
¼ cup white chocolate and a ¼ cup Craisins® OR
anything else you would like to mix in
Also optional: 1 egg mixed with 1 teaspoon water for glaze (optional)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly butter a baking sheet or line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
Cut the butter into small pieces (about ½ inch each) and add to flour mixture. With a pastry blender, two knives used scissor fashion, or your fingers, cut the butter into the mixture until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
In a small bowl, whisk together the cream, egg, and vanilla.
Add the cream mixture to the flour mixture and stir just until combined.
Add the optional ingredients, if desired.
With lightly floured hands, place the dough on a floured cutting board or surface. Pat the dough until it is about ½ inch thick. Flour a round biscuit cutter or a glass, cut out rounds from the dough, and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Gather any scraps and repeat until all the dough is used.
Brush the scones with the egg mixture, if desired.
Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
Remove the baking sheet and cool for 5 minutes. Transfer the scones to a wire rack to cool for a few more minutes.
Serve warm. Top with Devonshire Cream (recipe below) and jam or lemon curd, if desired.
Allow leftover scones to cool completely and store in an airtight container.
Recipe can be doubled with very good results. These scones also keep well in the freezer.
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine all ingredients and beat until stiff
Serve with scones and jam
The grocery store where I shop was out of cream of tarter, so I could not make the cream. I chose the chocolate chip variation for my scones, but since I don’t eat nuts, I skipped the pecans and added a few extra chocolate chips. A touch of laziness when gathering the scraps of dough resulted in several large and misshapen scones. My yield was closer to 10 than 14.
While these scones did not come out quite like Dorene’s, which always receive rave reviews, I was pleased with the results and with my progress.