Just like the 19th century artifact that unlocked the secret of Egyptian hieroglyphics, I have finally stumbled upon the secret to making great scones. You know, fluffy and moist on the inside while simultaneously being a little crunchy on the outside with that great looking, craggly crater that forms on the top. I’ve tried recipes for years, and they all turn out too dry or too biscuity or too something else. Never have I been able to produce a scone that rivals the ones I grab at the bakery (or even Starbuck’s for that matter), until now.
They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and that’s what happened here. I wanted to make something sweet for a weekend breakfast, but I was totally out of milk. No cream or half and half either. Not even contemplating a run to the grocery store (at 7:30 on a Sunday morning?!), I punted and decided to substitute some ricotta cheese for the liquid dairy in my off-the-top-of-my-head scone recipe. What I ended up with was Orange Ricotta Scones that were simply to die for. Who knew that laziness could lead to something good?
Honestly, I rarely think to myself, “Damn, that was a really good dish that I made.” I’m usually critiquing my own food before it hits the table (“it needs more of X or less of Y; if only I’d cooked it at a little lower temperature; why didn’t I think to add this to it? Blah, blah, blah…”). But I impressed even myself with these. They are honestly one of the best things I have ever baked (of course, coming from me, that’s not too sweeping a statement – I’ll admit that I’m nowhere close to a world-class baker). They aren’t too sweet, but the addition of the orange zest makes it almost taste like the marmalade was baked right in. Besides, if you make the scones too sweet, then you can’t have a rich, sticky glaze over the top. For me, that’s not something I’m willing to compromise.
If you’re going to make these, be advised to use quite a bit of flour when you turn them out because the dough is pretty tacky and soft. I ended up flouring my knife as well when I cut them. I usually brush the top with some cream, but since I didn’t have any, these went bare. They browned just nicely too. I imagine that the solids in the ricotta helped that along. And just that little hint of nutmeg in the background kept them from tasting like straight oranges.
In science, it only counts as a success if you can repeat the process. I haven’t tried yet – actually I’m a little worried about making lightening strike twice. So I may be back here in a little while, eating my words. Just in case, if you’ve got suggestions to make the perfect scone, let me know. I may need it.
I’m excited. This could open up a whole new world of both savory and sweet treats in my future. I wonder if the Egyptians had a hieroglyph for ‘scone’?
- 2 ½ C all purpose flour
- ½ C sugar
- 2 t baking powder
- 1 t salt
- ¼ t ground nutmeg
- ½ C butter (one stick), chilled and cubed
- Zest of one orange
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- ½ C ricotta cheese
- ½ t vanilla extract
- 1 C powdered sugar
- Pinch of salt
- Juice of ½ orange (about 3-4 T)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and ground nutmeg.
- Cut in butter using a pastry cutter or your fingertips until the texture of course sand. (You can also pulse this mixture in the bowl of a food processor).
- Toss in orange zest and mix to combine.
- Set aside.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine eggs, ricotta cheese, and vanilla extract.
- Pour wet mixtures into dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
Be careful not to over mix or scones will be tough. Dough will be very soft and tacky.
- Turn dough out onto well floured board and form into rectangle approximately 12” x 6”.
- Dip knife blade in flour and cut dough into 2” x 3” rectangles.
- Transfer to parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
- While scones are baking, combine glaze ingredients in a small mixing bowl and set aside.
- Add more orange juice to thin glaze to desired consistency (Or more powdered sugar if it’s too thin). It should be thin enough to drizzle over scones, but thick enough not to pool around the bottom.
- When scones are finished, remove from oven.
- Let cool on baking sheet for approximately 5 minutes
- Drizzle with glaze.
this post is reblogged from my earlier site, ‘Inexpensive Eating’