Mother's Day treat
FARGO — Scones are one of my favorite pastries to make, and if you look in my deep-freeze on any given day, you'll almost always find a bag of scones just waiting to be popped into the oven. I love the simplicity and versatility of scones, which can be made in just about any flavor, including sweet and savory variations.
Using simple pantry ingredients, a batch of scones can be ready to eat in about 30 minutes, from start to finish. These raspberry almond scones are a perfect Mother's Day treat, and they're simple enough to make that children (and husbands) can achieve success on their first attempt.
I've been making scones for years, and every time I serve them I am asked for my secret to achieving their perfectly rich and flaky texture. Making scones is a simple process, but a little bit of extra effort goes a long way to achieving the best results.
First, I handle the dough as little as possible. Scones are a rustic pastry and can be made entirely by hand using just a fork or pastry cutter to mix the dough. However, I've found that using my food processor for this step helps prevent overhandling of the dough and keeps the butter from warming up too much, thus ensuring a rich and flaky texture.
Next, I use very cold butter and cream to make the scones. I cut the butter into quarter-inch cubes and chill it in the freezer for at least 30 minutes before using, or even days/weeks if I'm planning. Keeping the butter and cream cold creates wonderful pockets of steam as the scones bake and makes them ultra-flaky.
Finally, I chill the scones in the freezer for at least 20 to 30 minutes before baking, which further helps those important steam pockets to develop.
This recipe calls for fresh raspberries, and whenever I use fresh fruit I chill it in the freezer for at least one hour, or even up to several months. Like the cold butter and cream, chilling the fruit will enhance the texture and help prevent it from becoming mushy when added to the dough.
The raspberries for these scones came from my garden last September and were perfectly good to use after eight months in the freezer. (When freezing fruit, place the berries or fruit pieces separately on a baking sheet and then in the freezer for about an hour until the fruit has hardened. This step keeps the fruit separate once transferred to a freezer bag or airtight container. For best results, use the fruit immediately upon removing from the freezer.)
This recipe makes eight large scones, or about two dozen smaller scones. Scones freeze beautifully, especially unbaked, and I prefer the smaller size as you can bake off the amount you need and freeze the rest to be enjoyed later.
These raspberry almond scones are delicious on their own, but when drizzled with a rich almond glaze and sprinkled with sliced almonds they are positively divine. Buttery-rich and so very flaky, these scones are the perfect gift for your mother or grandmother this Mother's Day.
Raspberry Almond Scones
Makes: 8 large scones or about 2 dozen small scones
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch cubes and chilled
1 cup raspberries, frozen or chilled for best results
½ cup sliced almonds
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
For the Almond Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
¼ to ⅓ cup heavy cream or milk
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
Pinch of salt
½ cup sliced almonds, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Place flour, baking powder and sugar in a large bowl or food processor and use a whisk to mix, or pulse ten times. Add the chilled butter and cut in with two forks or a pastry blender if making by hand, or pulse in the food processor about 12 to 15 times until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and gently stir in the chilled raspberries and sliced almonds, just until incorporated.
Mix the cream with the vanilla and almond extracts, then use a fork to gently stir the liquid into the flour-butter mixture until a dough begins to form. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured countertop or work surface. Use your hands to gently knead the dough into a sticky, rough ball, about 15 to 20 seconds only.
Lightly dust a round cake pan with flour and gently press the dough into the pan, handling it as little as possible. Flip the pan over onto the work surface and gently tap the bottom until the dough is released.
Use a sharp knife to cut the dough into 8 large wedges, or about 2 dozen small wedges. Place each scone on a parchment-lined baking sheet, spaced about 2 inches apart. For best results, place baking sheet in the freezer for at least 20 minutes before baking.
Remove sheet from freezer and brush the top of each scone with heavy cream, then bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, until the edges are golden brown, and the tops are just beginning to brown. Remove and transfer scones to a wire rack and cool completely before icing.
As the scones cool, place all the icing ingredients (except for the sliced almonds) in a medium bowl and use a whisk or wooden spoon to mix until smooth. Start with ¼ cup heavy cream or milk and add more as needed until desired consistency is achieved.
Once the scones are completely cool, use a spoon or piping bag to drizzle the icing over the tops, then sprinkle each with a handful of sliced almonds.
Scones can be kept fresh for up to 2 days if stored in a metal container or wrapped in aluminum foil.
To freeze unbaked scones
Flash-freeze them first on a baking sheet for one hour, then transfer to a freezer bag or airtight container and freeze for at least 3 months. Bake without thawing (amount of time to preheat oven is just fine), adding 2 to 3 minutes baking time if needed.
To freeze baked scones
Wrap each individually in plastic, transfer to a freezer bag or airtight container and freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw at room temperature before unwrapping and, for best results, warm in a 350-degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes until warm. Apply icing just before serving.
Recipe Time Capsule
This week in...
• 2017: Luscious Lemon Curd
• 2016: Syttende Mai Grilled Salmon with Lingonberry Sauce
• 2015: Chef Ben's Chicken Poblano Tortilla Soup
• 2014: Sarello's Wild Mushroom Soup
• 2013: Homemade Limoncello Liqueur
Recipes may be found on Sarah's blog at thelostitalian.areavoices.com.
"Home With the Lost Italian" is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello's in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their 13-year-old son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello//thelostitalian.areavoices.com.