Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fresh Blueberry Scones

With the blueberries leftover from Father's Day, Will let me know that I would be making blueberry muffins. He actually said this was another way for me to avoid pancakes.  I have made a lot of blueberry muffins over the years, but they've always been adapted from other recipes - leaving off the crumb topping or adding berries to a plain recipe. I'm always leary of such practices if I haven't made the original recipe at least once... a truly well-designed recipe will have all the components - toppings, mix-ins, batter - perfectly balanced so that substitutions will impact the base. I didn't have a go-to recipe that I could count on and make changes to with confidence. I offer the following, from the trusted Joy of Cooking, as one such staple. I chose the "Sour Cream Muffin" variety as the base, and stired in 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries. When adding berries to baked goods, it's good to hold back a tablespoon or two of the dry ingredients before you mix with the wet ingredients (eggs/milk etc) to toss with the berries before stirring them in to the finished batter. This helps them mix in and not sink to the bottom or clump up as much.

Makes 15 standard muffins; can also be baked in loaf or baking pan as coffee cake.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream (or buttermilk or plain yogurt)
2/3 cup sugar (light brown or white)
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 400. Grease or line muffin cups. Whisk together flour, baking powder, soda (if using; see note below), salt, and nutmeg. 
Separately whisk together remaining ingredients except berries until well-combined. Stir in dry ingredients mixing just until moistened; do not over mix; batter will be clumpy. Stir in bluberries and fill muffin cups 2/3 full.

Bake 17-20 minutes.
Note: you can subsitute milk or cream for the sour cream; if so, omit the baking soda.

I thought these were really really good. And while most muffin recipes say they are best eaten fresh, we found these lasted well for three days (we toast them before eating anyway.) They were cakey and flavorful without being too sweet or dense. But as soon as I took them out of the oven, I commented to Will, "I'm surprised you didn't ask me to make you scones." Naturally, he replied, "Good idea! Will you make me some scones?"

As above with muffins, I didn't have a go-to scone recipe. And while you can of course simply stir some blueberries into your basic scone recipe, but without a standby for comparison, I felt I should find a recipe was specifically designed for fresh blueberries - something that might be more likely to take into account the extra liquid from fresh berries, or the tart and sweetness of fruit. Many of the recipes call for dried fruit which has less impact on the final consistency of the baked good, so I was glad to find this version for Fresh Blueberry Scones at the trusted King Arthur Flour website.

I'd read in another recipe somewhere that leaving the butter bits in "pea-sized" clumps after the initial mixing would give a more flakey texture, while processing the dough until the butter was more evenly distributed with the flour into a sandy texture would provide a more fluffy texture, so that's what I went for.

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