You ever walk into a coffee shop, take a look at the baked goods section and feel your heart sink? So often I find myself looking at pastry displays which remind me of plastic toys. I see over-baked, oversized cookies with cheap, waxy chocolate chips in them. Soft, flat croissants that have no crisp in them whatsoever. And I see the saddest, saddest of scones. I wonder to myself, does this shop actually make money off of these? And someone will come in, order a coffee and a scone, and I’m flabbergasted. Part of me wants to run over and be like, no no, put it back and lemme make you one instead!
Okay, so maybe I sound a bit snobbish, but guys, guys! You all know a homemade cookie is unbeatable. You know that homemade baked goods can be a bit more difficult but are always worth the effort. You know that if you make it at home, you can get the texture and flavor you like - and it won’t just be a bomb of sugar designed to trick you into thinking it’s tasty. So today, let’s talk about how to make delicious scones so you are never that person ordering a sad scone.
Making a good scone comes down to: butter cutting, and controlling the moisture that goes into your dough. Essentially you need to remember two things: 1. the butter should be cold, you should be able to see chunks of it in your dough, so don’t ever let it melt, and 2. the less liquid you use, the better. There are lots of methods to get your butter worked into the dough to the right size but my favorite is the easiest: using a pastry cutter. Once your dry ingredients are whisked, use the cutter to mash the butter into kidney-bean sized chunks. Add just enough liquid, your dough should look dry, and work it quickly until it comes together. Then, keep the dough as cold as possible. Not so bad, eh?
One way to avoid adding too much liquid is to avoid fruits that will seep into the dough - raspberries do this to me every time because they so easily mush. So, I came up with a recipe that incorporated raspberries two ways, thereby avoiding any way of ruining the texture of my scones. Also, it’s such a deliciously pleasant surprise to bite into the raspberry cheesecake filling instead of what would usually be a boring bread middle.
But before we get into the recipe, let’s talk texture. I know there are people out there who prefer the texture and flakiness of a biscuit and find scones too soft and cake-like and others who find this abominable. I’m sorta mostly on the flaky side of this debate but, less I upset the scone gods, or you know, in case you prefer it that way as I sometimes do, I have two dough options for you. My biscuit recipe has a lot more butter, and uses buttermilk as a liquid. It’s a bit less sweet and a lot more flaky (if you took out the glaze and filling, and reduced the sugar you would have fantastic dinner biscuits!). My scone recipe (adapted quite a bit from Ovenly’s basic scone recipe) uses cream, less butter and is softer, sweeter and will give you a more traditional scone. Choose your path based on what suits you!
Raspberry Cream Cheese Stuffed Scones
Makes about 10 scones, depending on size
Once fully assembled, these need to be frozen for about an hour before they are baked. You can also make them a day (or more!) ahead of time.
Keep your butter, and buttermilk/cream as cold as possible until the moment you need to use them. These ensures the butter doesn’t melt into the flour and keeps into chunks when it goes into the oven.
One thing I do to streamline my process with these is to keep a parchment lined cookie sheet in the fridge and add the dough squares to it as I make them. Once I have all my squares, I pull out the pan and fill them by spoonful. I work near a sink or a bowl of water so I can easily close them once filled then promptly get them in the freezer.
For the scone dough, I generally prefer to use light cream for the liquid. You can go all in with heavy cream, or do what I did below (I was out of light and ran out of heavy so used a bit of milk). I’ve also added two options for zest: orange is sweeter, the lemon will obviously give it tang.
I don’t recommend eating these hot - the cream cheese filling tastes better once they have cooled. Plus, if you wait till they cool you get to put the yummy, yummy glaze on top.
1 package cream cheese
zest of half a lemon or orange
⅛ cup sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ cup frozen raspberries
Option 1: Biscuit Dough
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 TB baking powder
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Zest of half a lemon or orange
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup (12 TB) unsalted butter, cold
3/4 cup buttermilk, straight from the fridge
cream and sugar, for brushing/sprinkling on top of scones
Option Two: Scone Dough:
3 cups flour
1 ½ TB baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
Zest of half an orange or lemon
¼ cup sugar
8 TB unsalted butter, cold
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup heavy cream, cold
¼ cup whole milk, cold
Raspberry glaze (optionally indulgent but totally necessary):
1 cup powdered sugar (I like to use organic)
1/4 heaped cup frozen raspberries
a squeeze or two of lemon juice
Method for both doughs:
Make your filling first: In a food processor, pulse together all the ingredients until well blended. Set aside.
Make your dough:
Prepare a work surface with a dusting of flour. Flour a rolling pin.
Whisk together the dry ingredients and zest in a large bowl.
Remove butter from fridge and cut into cubes. Use a pastry cutter to cut butter into smaller pieces into the flour mixture. Don’t over-do it, stop when the butter is about large bean-sized.
Add buttermilk (or heavy cream/milk) and vanilla. Mix it in with a spatula to start to form the dough ball.
Use your hands to ball together the dough - it will seem like it needs more liquid but keep ‘kneading’ it into a ball, work quickly and it should form.
Place it onto your floured surface and roll it out into a large rectangle, at about 1/3 of an inch thickness. Flour as you go through the process so it doesn’t stick.
Trim the edges and cut the rectangle into squares. Spoon a teaspoon or more of cream cheese filling (depending on the size of your squares) in the center of your squares.
Dab some water onto the edges and press the edges shut tight.
If you have any scraps (I always do) re-roll the dough (keep the ones you’ve already made in the fridge in the meantime) and repeat. But do your best to keep the dough cold and not let the butter melt.
Freeze on a parchment-lined surface for at least an hour or up to a week ahead of time.
Preheat oven to 425. Remove scones from freezer and brush with cream, and sprinkle with sugar. (The cream will freeze if you take too long before you get to the sugar so brush, sugar one and then move onto the next.)
Bake for 15-20 minutes.
Once scones are cool you have the option to glaze them.
Make the glaze by sifting the powdered sugar, pressing the raspberries through a mesh sieve, and adding a bit of lemon juice.