These can be used as shortcakes, scones, the cobbler on top of baked fruit, and with the addition of herbs or cheese, savory biscuits to accompany dinner. The trick here is not to overwork the dough and make sure all of your ingredients are cold. It’s a very crumbly mass once it comes out of the bowl, but that’s why the finished texture is so light and tender. Don’t knead the dough together, but rather press it until it just holds.
This dough can be made by hand, in a food processor, as it is written, or in a stand mixer. Makes 8 shortcakes or scones. Feel free to use your imagination for the “additions”: nuts, cheeses, dried fruit, spices…the combinations are endless. When it is hot, make sure that all of your ingredients are very very cold.
2 cups / 270 g all-purpose flour (you can make these with whole wheat pastry flour too!)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped (optional…do not use if making savory scones)
1⁄2 cup / 115 g unsalted butter, diced into 1⁄2-inch cubes
1 cup / 240 ml plus 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream, divide
1 – 1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries, blueberries, etc. (if making fruit scones)
OR 1 tablespoon herbs and 3/4 cup cold grated cheese of your choice (if making savory scones)
3 tablespoons Turbinado or granulated sugar (if making sweet fruit scones)
· In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, granulated sugar, and vanilla bean seeds, if using.
· Pulse a few times to combine and break up any clumps.
· Add the butter, scattering it over the flour. Pulse 15 times to break up the butter.
· The mixture will look sandy, with some larger pieces of butter throughout. Pour 1 cup / 240 ml cream over the dough and pulse an additional 20 times.
· Add the raspberries and pulse just a couple more times to combine. The dough will look crumbly and dry.
· Dump the dough onto an unfloured work surface and use the palm of your hand to work the dough just until it holds together. You don’t want to overwork the dough, as this can make it tough.
· Gather the dough together into a 6- to 8-inch round (for making wedge-shaped scones) or a rectangle (for cutting out round biscuits).
· Use a brush or your fingers to spread the remaining 2 tablespoons cream in an even layer on top. Sprinkle the extra sugar, if using, on top of the cream.
· Chill the dough for 30 minutes. (DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!)
· Preheat the oven to 400°F.
· Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
· Cut the dough into the desired shapes (triangles or circles are common shapes) and then place them on the baking sheet.
· Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until deep golden along the edges.
· Cool to room temperature on a wire rack. These are best served the day they are baked. Unbaked dough can be wrapped and frozen for up to 1 month.
Note: When it is very hot, I make these by hand and simply grate the chilled butter into the dry ingredients with a cheese grater. From there I toss the butter and dry ingredients together, breaking up any large clumps with my hands, and then stir in the cream.
— By Deborah Binder
Deborah Binder is “dancing with N.E.D.” (no evidence of disease) after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2009. She is a foodie who loves to cook from scratch and share here experiments with her family and friends. She attended culinary school on the East Coast and freelances around town for local chefs. Her current interest in food is learning to eat for health and wellness, while at the same time enjoying the pleasures of the table. As Julia Child once said, “Everything in moderation including butter.” Deborah can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.