February 5, 2010

Double the zest

There hasn't been much activity around here lately, as you've probably well noticed, because I took a break from baking for about a month or so, but now the baking is back, and it's back with scones. It took me about a week to get them on here, too. I had to get the recipe right, you know, with a little tweaking -- made it twice, and the second time was the charm. And, thankfully, the pictures turned out better the second time as well. So all of that makes for a better post and recipe for you.

Scones are the best on a rainy or overcast morning in the winter, when all you want for breakfast is something warm and comforting and easy on the stomach. Large or heavy breakfasts are a bit much for me right after waking up, so toast is the usual fare, except for the occasional day that calls for a little more effort. I've been looking forward to making these scones for some time now and am so glad I finally made the effort.

Ginger is the key flavor here, lots of chopped up crystallized ginger. There's also a bit of freshly grated ginger in the dough, but the chunks of crystallized ginger give the biggest impact. Each bite will make your mouth tingle and crave for more. They rather make the scone worthwhile for me, although the base itself is very good, with a soft, mildly sweet crumb that almost melts on the tongue. Lots of butter and a good measure of cream result in that kind of texture. The edges are crumbly, almost like shortbread, and the interior moist enough to make each mouthful go down easy without being clammy. No clammy scones in this kitchen, thank you very much, which can be one of the most disappointing things to have happen. These are just about perfect. The zesty ginger and mild dough balance each other out so that the one isn't too powerful and the other too underwhelming.

Although best on the day they're baked, right out of the oven, the scones will keep for a couple of days in an airtight container. They may taste more gingery the next day even, with the flavors developing over time and all. I haven't had a chance to find out yet, since they were only baked this morning. After that, they'll begin to go stale around the edges, which isn't very palatable. I'd be surprised if they last longer than a day or two, though, they're so good, especially when baked for the best meal of the day, a meal that should put a smile on your face, along with a vanilla latte (which definitely puts a smile on mine).

Ginger Cream Scones
Adapted from Epicurious

2 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 Tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
10 Tbsp (1 ¼ sticks) cold butter, cubed
⅔ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
¾ cup heavy cream, plus extra
Raw sugar, such as turbinado

Preheat oven to 400° F. Place rack in middle of oven.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and baking powder. Add the fresh ginger, lemon zest, and butter, mixing with a pastry blender or two knifes until the consistency resembles fine meal. Stir in the chopped crystallized ginger.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in cream. Using a wooden spoon, carefully mix together until just combined, forming a soft dough. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead a few turns to form into a ball, adding a little more flour if dough is sticky. Pat dough out into a circle roughly ¾-inch thick. Cut into ten wedges and transfer to a large, rimmed baking sheet. Lightly brush tops of scones with a little cream, then sprinkle generously with the raw sugar.

Bake until edges are golden, about 20 minutes. Cool scones on a wire rack for a few minutes, then transfer to a towel lined basked to keep warm. Serve with butter, if you want. They're pretty darn good on their own.

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