I realize I’m a little scone-crazy around here. There are worse things to be. Boy band crazy, maybe.
Having spent the past two mornings in Edmonton in a very family-friendly hotel with fun pools and a spread of all-you-can-eat beige in the morning, including DIY waffles and those long tubes of Froot Loops you crank out into styrofoam bowls, it made me appreciate how much I value my carb calories – that is, if I’m going to eat a giant wodge of bread or a bagel or cinnamon bun, it had better be great. The coffee too, while I’m at it. Perhaps I’m turning into a breakfast snob.
All-you-can-eat scones are easy enough to make happen at home, so long as you have flour and butter and milk (or even sour cream or yogurt) in the house. These also call for an egg, making them richer than your standard biscuit, and vanilla beans just because I was in the mood – there’s no need to rush out and buy one, but if you, like me, hoard your beans, saving them for something special, and then find them a year later in the back of the cupboard, dried out and only good for tucking into a jar of vanilla sugar, here’s a good reason to use one. It’s a satisfying use of a dollar or two to split one with the tip of a knife and scrape out the seeds into your scone dough. Or use vanilla bean paste, which at around $12 a jar is a totally affordable alternative; cheaper than pure vanilla extracts can be, and you get all those bitty black seeds you can see in the drizzle. It doesn’t take much – a jar will last.
I like to pat the dough into a circle right on the baking sheet, then cut it into wedges and pull them apart. No re-rolling of scraps, no wiping down of counters.
These are good, basic scones you can add berries or dried fruit or nuts or chocolate to, and there’s no reason you have to drizzle a thin, vanilla-scented icing overtop, except that it takes a minute to stir together and is oh-so-satisfying to dribble back and forth overtop. It dresses them up nice. So I suppose the motivation might be similar to that which inspires one to accessorize an outfit.
And if you happen to have a little leftover icing from a cake or cupcakes – I always wind up with a small dish of it, not enough to frost anything with – thin it with a little milk, add a drip of vanilla bean paste and dribble it over your warm scones with a fork.
Vanilla Bean Scones
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into chunks
3/4 cup buttermilk (or plain yogurt, thinned with milk)
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla or vanilla bean paste
extra milk or cream, for brushing (optional)
coarse sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
1 cup icing sugar
1 Tbsp. milk or cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla or vanilla bean paste
Preheat oven to 400F. In a bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the butter and blend it with a fork, whisk, pastry blender or your fingers (or do it all in the food processor, if you have one), leaving some lumps no bigger than a pea.
In a small bowl, stir the buttermilk, egg and vanilla together with a fork. Add to the flour mixture and stir just until combined. Pat the dough out about an inch thick on a parchment-lined sheet and cut into rounds or wedges; brush with milk or cream and/or sprinkle with sugar. Pull them apart, leaving at least an inch between them, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden.
To make the glaze, whisk together the icing sugar, milk and vanilla; drizzle it over the scones while they’re still warm. Makes about 8 scones.