Over the summer, I spent the weekend in New York City with some of my blogging friends. Naturally, our visit was food-focused, including eating in restaurants, browsing a farmers market, exploring Chelsea Market, and shopping at bakeries.
One of my favorite bakery treats was the Fennel-Golden Raisin Semolina Twists at Amy’s Bread in Chelsea Market. I accidentally ordered an extra one, and I enjoyed every last bite. I added them to my never-ending list of recipes to try to recreate.
This week, I decided to bring refreshments to a morning meeting. I had scones on my mind, and when browsing cookbooks for ideas, in Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook, I came across a recipe for savory scones reminiscent of the twists at Amy’s Bread. I was thinking of something sweet, so I decided to play around with it. First of all, I halved the recipe, then I added more sugar to make these sweet, not savory, and finally, I made mini-sized scones instead of large ones. I love the tiny size for a group. They are small enough that people will always take a sample without feeling overly indulgent.
The end result was a success. The flavor brought me back to my weekend in New York. The only thing missing was a touch of semolina, so next time, I’ll try using some in place of some of the flour. The scones’ crumbly texture held up after a couple days in my cake dome. The leftovers didn’t even need toasting to revive them after the first day.
Fennel-Golden Raisin Scones
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook
1 Tbsp fennel seeds plus extra for sprinkling on top of scones
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ stick cold unsalted butter (2 oz/¼ cup), cut into small pieces
¾ cup golden raisins, coarsely chopped
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¾ cup heavy cream plus extra for brushing the tops of the scones
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a spice grinder, coarsely grind the fennel seeds (about 10 pulses). If you don’t have a spice grinder, you can use a mortar and pestle.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Work in the butter using a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingers (my preferred method) until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add raisins, ground fennel seeds, olive oil, and cream and stir just until the dough comes together. If it seems too dry, add a cream in small amounts (1 Tbsp at a time) until a dough forms.
Lightly flour your work surface. Pat the dough into a round about ¾-inch thick. Using a 1½-inch cookie cutter (or glass), cut out scones and transfer to the baking sheet. Gently push the scraps together and repeat until all dough is used.
Brush the top of each scone with some cream (you can also use milk or an egg wash) and sprinkle with a few whole fennel seeds.
Bake the scones for 20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through, until they are a light golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
Makes 2½ to 3 dozen mini scones. (If you want bigger scones, don’t pat the dough as thinly, probably closer to an inch or a little more thick, and you’ll need to bake them longer.)
Tea is my caffeinated drink of choice. I drink cups and cups of tea everyday. My favorite is Extra Bergamot Earl Gray from Upton Teas. I’ll have an occasional espresso drink on the run. I don’t really care for plain old coffee, though I’ll sometimes order it in restaurants because the way most restaurants serve tea is abysmal. Don’t even get me started…
In the afternoon (or sometimes mid-morning), a cup of tea wants a little bite to accompany it. I think this is what scones were invented for. I like them just a little bit sweet and crumbly.
I’m constantly trying new scone recipes. My goal is to some day settle on two base recipes, one using cream or milk and the other with buttermilk. That way I can accommodate the current dairy supply in my refrigerator. My choice of mix-ins can always be combined into either dough.
I have a variety of flours in the pantry, most of them from Bob’s Red Mill, leftover from various recipe experiments. A local grocery store (though my least favorite one around) stocks a large inventory his products. I will visit that store for flour.
My recent favorite is buckwheat flour. I’ve been substituting it for some of the regular flour in assorted baked goods. I like the earthy undertone it adds, and the slightly purple color of the end product.
With a recent excess of blueberries, picked next to the dock of our Maine cottage, I had blueberry scones on my mind. Using some buckwheat flour gave my scones the rustic look I had in mind.
When you’re in the neighborhood, you’re always welcome to stop by and join me for a cup of tea, a scone (or two), and a chat!
Rustic Blueberry Scones
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup buckwheat flour
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
10 Tbsp (1¼ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut in to ½-inch pieces
1 large egg
6 Tbsp buttermilk
¾ tsp vanilla extract
¾ tsp almond extract
1 cup blueberries, rinsed and dried
Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Measure the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse corn meal. (You can process about 10 seconds before starting to pulse, if you’re not that patient.). Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, lightly whisk the eggs. Add buttermilk and extracts and whisk to combine. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir just until the flour is incorporated. Add the berries and stir gently to combine.
For each scone, scoop about ¼ cup of dough onto the baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. I use an ice cream scoop that’s about this size.
Bake the scones for 15-20 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry. Remove from the oven and let them sit for about 5 minutes on the baking sheet. Then transfer the scones to a rack to cool further, or just eat them warm!
I find that scones freeze well. If I take one from the freezer in the morning, it’s defrosted and ready for a quick toasting in the oven later in the day.
* Note that Bob’s Red Mill is a sponsor of the International Food Blogger Conference that I am attending later this week. In exchange for a discounted rate, I’ve agreed to write some blog posts about the conference and its sponsors. However, I purchased the flour myself and I’ve expressed my honest opinions in this post.