scone thoughts (the rosemary-honey-orange-pecan scones of my dreams)

Baking for R has become a highlight of my week. Each recipe is an opportunity to lose myself a little in research and learning; I want to understand the science of chewy versus crisp cookies, the basic ratios that make up scones and cakes and brownies. Tuesday evenings, when I bake, have become a bright silence that buoys up the first half of the week. Grading and lesson planning are set aside for butter, sugar, eggs, and my beloved KitchenAid. And at the end of the evening, something sweet cooling in the kitchen, I sit down and write R a letter to tuck into the paper bag of treats — sometimes about a poem I’ve read, or a memory this baked good brings up, or a conversation we had that I’ve continued to think about.

A few weeks ago, I did a side-by-side comparison of two scone types: these flaky scones and these cream-only scones (scroll down the thread) with half a recipe of this glaze. The cream-only scones turned out just like Starbucks scones — crumbly, almost cake-like, and a little too sweet. The glaze was a real hit, though — tangy and very lemon-y.

 

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Flaky scones from All Things Pastry — R’s favorite

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Starbucks-imitation (cream-only) scones from Chowhound — everyone else’s favorite

R preferred Ana’s flaky scones. I made them last week with dried blueberries and lemon zest; this week R suggested something with honey and cinnamon. Keeping Ana’s recipe as a base, I thought about making a honey-rosemary scone (Cinnamon?! So normal!) and read this and this, about substituting honey for sugar (count it as a liquid, reduce oven temperature, use 75% of sugar). I also read this about honey glazes on scones (honey + powdered sugar + milk/water).

Then. I. Saw. This. Cinnamon-honey cubes?!

Anyway, I ended up settling on making TWO types of rosemary-honey-orange scones last week and had a taste off. The clear winner was an adaptation of Thomas Bouchon’s cinnamon-honey scones (I changed the flavor profile and cut a few corners to make the recipe less fussy. While I haven’t made the original, these were tender, full of flavor, and baked up beautifully).

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Rosemary honey and orange pecan scones

Two nights before 

Whisk together:

30 g flour

30 g sugar

5 g finely chopped fresh rosemary

5 g orange zest

With your fingers, rub in 30 g cold butter.

Stir in 20-30 g honey into a smooth paste. Flatten into a 4-inch square on plastic wrap. Freeze overnight.

The night before

Whisk together:

460 g flour, sifted

2.5 tsp baking powder (sifted!)

1/2 tsp baking soda

91 g sugar

In a mixer with the paddle attachment, beat in:

8 oz cold butter, cut into small pieces

and beat for 3 minutes. The directions say to to do this next step with the mixer running, but I’m not that coordinated, so I stopped it and poured in

135 g heavy cream and

135 g sour cream

then beat for 30-45 seconds, scraping down the sides once in the middle. Then I added 1/4 cup toasted, chopped pecans and pulsed the mixer for 30 more seconds.

Take the rosemary-orange honey-butter from the freezer and cut into small squares. Fold into the dough by hand to avoid smearing/breaking them apart.

Press the dough into a 7×10 rectangle on a piece of plastic wrap; cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, cut the dough into 12 squares. Place on a silicone-lined baking sheet, 1″ apart, and freeze for 2+ hours.

The day of

Bake from frozen for 28-30 minutes at 350°.

Fresh from the oven, brush with a 2:1 combination of browned butter and honey (I used 40 g butter to 20 g honey).

 

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