Friday, January 27, 2012

You say biscuits. I say scones. Or vise versa.

This month we made scones. Or biscuits*. Or something resembling them.

It was back to basics time.

This month was all about experimentation, and learning about the chemistry and science of baking. Fat plus flour plus kneeding or folding equals light and fluffy or soft and gooey or layered and flaky.

Or something.

Blog-checking lines: Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers’ host. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (a/k/a biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens!


Which is to say, were it a different month, I might have made four or five batches of biscuits/scones (especially because this recipe is tiny tiny so you can make them for two people and eat them ALL for breakfast/dinner and not worry about it one bit) but this month got away from me and it never happened.

Alas, I only made one set, but I will make more in the future.

ready for the oven.
This is one of those recipes that is so easy it's hard. For example, there are just five ingredients, so there's no place to hide old baking soda or non-sifted flour. In fact, for these scones I actually triple-sifted the flour. Triple. Sifted. (And I guess you should too.)

And! The sifting occurred from a great height, so as to incorporate as much air into the flour as possible. (And, by the way, to create as big of a mess as possible.)

After triple sifting, you get to rub in the fat with your fingers. I am all for any recipe where I get to use my hands. I love the feel of the flour and the butter and the goodness all in between my fingers. Oh yes I do.

Also, this recipe suggests grating the butter and then freezing it for a bit before incorporation. (I might need to admit that grating butter was also one of the most fun things I've done in the kitchen in a long time.)

breakfast accompaniment, but sweet. in this way I am honoring both America and Australia*.
The recipe becomes a choose-your-own-adventure-experience at this point, when you get to decide if you're going to knead or fold the dough.  Kneading makes soft lovely scones and folding makes flaky layered scones. Either way, the dough is sticky and it makes you worry.  (I folded.)

Don't worry. It will work out.

Cut your scones using a floured cutter that is open on top and round and thin-walled and blah blah blah you're going to end up just using a butter knife and cutting them apart because you have nothing resembling a biscuit cutter in your house and the description in the recipe makes you nervous.

Note: I need a biscuit cutter. Apparently the method of using an over-turned drinking glass just isn't going to cut it any more (pun definitely intended). 

layers? almost.

Results were mixed. Joe thought they were divine and I thought they needed work. Sounds about right, doesn't it?

Next up: I'm going to make something that our host Audax calls a "fairy ring" in which he adds sprinkles (which Australians call "hundreds and thousands") to the dough and then ices and adds more sprinkles once baked. Anything with sprinkles is good by me.

Really. Anything.

* Apparently, in Australia these are called scones. They are usually cut out but then put on the baking sheet so that the sides touch and everything stays soft. They are eaten with jam over tea. They are not the North American scones (which are wedge-shaped and lumpy and fruity and dry and wonderful) but rather what are called baking soda biscuits in the States, which Americans eat with butter and turkey for dinner as a savory side. (Which, by the way, Australians would call "savoury.")

Also, one should note that buttermilk biscuits (to Americans) would be called buttermilk scones to Australians, and would still be eaten as a sweet, not with chicken-fried-chicken. These are American, according to our Australian host. And so, I thank you, Southern America, for buttermilk and the biscuits that come from them. But I didn't make those this time, because it seemed beside the point.


Julie said...

again, you've made me smile with such clever banter about scones or biscuits....adorable! the photos are superb and can't wait to hear about the "fairy ring"....sprinkles inside?! YUM

Jene said...

LOVE scones! I have a recipe for scones that call for vanilla bean seeds (from scraping the pod). Sounds so delish-when you're ready for another scone fix, let me know, I'll forward it to you.

Your photos make my mouth water! YUM! Good going, Cupcake!

Audax said...

So glad that you learnt so much from the challenge and your scones do look so yummy great job on this recipe. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

chef_d said...

uts,mThey look delicious, great job!

TheFNUK said...

Lovely photos!
Check my blog for some of my travel writing! :)