Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Scones: The Perfect Fall Treat

Weather-wise, today is a delightful victory. The high is 60, as it will be tomorrow, meaning Autumn is finally wrenching away Summer's grip on this hemisphere. Soon, the leaves will start turning gold, persimmon, and toffee, making our outdoor walks a symphony of color, a concerto of crunching. It's almost time to break out the scarves and sweaters.

This is usually very exciting to me - the sweaters in particular. But this year, it brings on a moment of silence from me, because I left all - all - our winter clothes in New Mexico, believing Spousal Unit would be back for them at the end of September. Alas, he is going back, but it's likely to be on the train, which means no room for him to carry an enormous box of fluff.

A few sweaters will be returning so I can avoid freezing my butt off, but most will sit in storage, wondering why they've been abandoned to that cold, dark corner of the universe.

Since I can't revel in my fall sweaters quite yet, I'm enjoying fall's stage entrance in other ways: with food. Over the weekend I made two batches of scones: one lemon poppyseed, one pumpkin chocolate chip. They're a delicious treat for a cool morning and a hot cup of tea.The lemon poppyseed scones came originally from Epicurious, a great place to find fun new recipes. The original recipe is for cranberry, walnut and lemon scones, but I just wanted lemon poppyseed. So, I altered the recipe for my purposes - among other things, I severely decreased the amount of sugar. For a normal-sized batch of scones, you pretty much never need a full cup unless you're trying to overdose on the stuff. You could even go with less than I've suggested here.

Another handy tip: nearly all scone recipes call for chilled butter to be cut into the dry ingredients. I've found that softened butter does the job just as well, and saves you the pain of having to work with a solid brick of (delicious) fat.

Lemon Poppyseed Scones

1 Tbsp plus 1/2 c. sugar, divided

2 Tbsp plus 1 tsp lemon juice, divided

2 c. white flour

1 c. wheat flour

1 T baking powder

1 T finely grated lemon peel (optional)

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) softened butter, chopped

1 T poppyseeds

1/2 c. milk

Mix together flours, baking powder, lemon peel, salt, and 1/2 cup sugar in large bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or fork until pea-sized clumps have formed. Add millk and 2 Tbsp lemon juice; stir with fork, then knead with your hands until the dough is one solid ball (do not overmix). Divide dough into two equal balls. Press out on floured surface until each is 6 inches in diameter. Transfer to a baking sheet (lined with waxed paper, if you prefer) and cut each round into 6 wedges. Brush with the remaining lemon juice and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake about 15-20 minutes until tester comes out clean.

This recipe for Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Scones comes from Morning Coffee and Afternoon Tea, a site I've loved for a long time. Again, you can use softened butter instead of chilled if you like, and rather than leaving one ball of dough for this and ending up with six enormous scones, you can follow the above directions and make two balls of six smaller scones each. Still a satisfying size, and you can share with more friends. I also omitted the egg, brushing the scones with milk instead.

An idea I had - suggested by the first recipe - was to put cranberries in this mix instead of chocolate chips. I even went out and bought them. But then I put them in the cupboard and forgot what I was doing. If you'd like, try 1/3 cup of cranberries instead of chocolate chips. And don't forget to make the pumpkin butter on that website, too!

One day soon, I'll post my recipes for chai tea and hot apple cider, too, so you can enjoy those with these delicious scones, too.


  1. If you use a cheese grater and frozen butter, its super easy to mix in.

    : )

  2. Wow, that's an awesome idea! I'll have to use that.


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