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Article Published January 7, 2021

Getting Hands-On with Scones


It was a bit of a sad holiday season. I shared Thanksgiving with my neighbors. They are the only people who have been invited into my condo during the pandemic, other than my daughter, the physical therapist, visiting nurses, or a few minutes from friends.

I lit the candles on my menorah each of the holiday’s eight days, and Sue and Bob and I decided not to spend Christmas dinner together.

I didn’t do a lot of cookie baking, either. In the early part of December, I did stews and pasta sauces (marinara, pink vodka, and a marathon of Bolognese). I actually do the last in a cauldron the size of a pot cannibals might choose.

But the Bolognese is now down to one three-quart plastic container in the freezer, so as I write this, another batch of Bolognese is cooking downstairs: onions, garlic, carrots, pork, and beef are in, along with a bottle of pinot gris.

In 30 minutes, it will have somewhat evaporated, the milk will be added, then about 200 ounces of tomatoes and the tomato paste will simmer for two or so hours.

I have, however, been doing some baking. I found a new recipe for scones, which was a bit more fun than the recipe I had been using for decades. With this new one, I use my hands to work the butter into the flour mixture, drill a well into the dough, and add heavy cream. I mix this batter with my hands, too.

The author says she likes the “cragging” of the scones instead of rolling the dough and using a biscuit cutter to make them all look neat. I have made this recipe three times: once with chopped pecans, once with marzipan, and once with tiny cinnamon chips. This is fun and easy, and scones can be frozen, too.

Lee White of Old Lyme has been a food editor and restaurant reviewer for more than 25 years. You can email her at leeawhite@aol.com.

Any-Fruit or –Nut Scones

Adapted from The Fearless Baker by Erin Jeanne McDowell (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston New York, 2017)

Makes about 18 scones

3 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoons fine sea salt

10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into ½ inch cubes

2 to 2½ cups fruit and/or nuts

1 cup heavy cream

Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water and small pinch of salt)

Sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 400 degree with racks in the upper and lower two thirds. Line two half-sheet pans with parchment or Silpat.

In a large bowl, whisk dry ingredients together. Add butter and toss to cubes with flour; cut butter into flour mixture by rubbing them between forefingers and thumbs until the size of peas or walnut halves. Add fruit and/or nuts and toss gently to combine.

Make a well in the middle and pour in cream. Toss mixture with fingers to combine, then knead gently to ensure everything is evenly moistened.

Scoop ¼-cups of dough onto prepared sheet pans. I used my hands to do this, leaving 1 ½ inches between. Brush top with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake scones, switching the sheets from front to back and top to bottom at the halfway mark, for 20 to 22 minutes, until tops and edges are golden brown.

Scones can be served warm or at room temperature. They may also be microwaved for 10 to 15 seconds.