Saturday, June 26, 2010

Lemon Ginger Cream Scones on a Hot Summer Day

I’ve had a craving for scones for a while now, but have put off making them until a few days ago, which turned out to be one of the hottest days in New York so far this year. Not an ideal day for baking of any kind, in fact, but my craving won out, and I cranked 

up the a.c. and got to the task at hand. I made a classic cream 
scone, but added crystallized ginger and lemon zest to the dough instead of the standard currants. Despite the a.c., my kitchen was warm, so I put the bowl containing the flour and butter mixture 

in the freezer for a few minutes so that the butter wouldn’t 
melt into the flour as I cut it in. The scones came out perfectly—extremely tender and warm and fragrant with the scent of ginger and lemon. And if you’re eating a scone (which rhymes with 

‘gone,’ not ‘own,’ in their country of origin), you’re indulging, so you might as well go all the way with the accompaniments. I suggest raspberry jam, homemade crème fraiche and honey butter, and a nice strong pot of Earl Grey tea. Or perhaps iced Earl Grey tea. It is summer, after all.

Note: If you prefer to cut out the scones with a round cutter, reduce the amount of butter to 6 tablespoons. The scones will hold their shape better.

Lemon Ginger Cream Scones
Makes 8 scones

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
¼ cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into tablespoons
1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
1 egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash
Turbinado or granulated sugar, for sprinkling tops

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the butter pieces and, using 2 knives or a pastry blender, cut it into the flour mixture until the largest pieces are the size of peas and the rest resembles coarse meal. Stir in the ginger and lemon zest. Add the cream and stir gently with a rubber spatula just until the dough comes together.
3. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and lightly dust it with more flour. Shape it into an 8-inch disc. Cut the disc into quarters, then cut each quarter in half to make 8 wedges. Transfer the wedges to the baking sheet, spacing them 2 inches apart. Brush the top of the dough with the eggwash, and sprinkle generously with  sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown.  Serve warm.

Honey Butter
Makes ½ cup

½ cup/4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
1 tablespoon honey
Pinch of salt

Place butter chunks in bowl of electric mixer and mix at low speed, using the paddle attachment. Increase the speed to medium and gradually add the honey and salt. Beat until well blended and smooth, about 5 minutes. Scrape into ramekins and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Homemade Crème Fraiche
Makes 1 1/3 cups

1 cup pasteurized heavy cream (not ultra-pasteurized)
1/3 cup buttermilk

Combine the cream and buttermilk in a jar or glass measure. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours, until thickened. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, until chilled.

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