Now that I think about it, I think that these scones are only the fourth thing that I've ever baked "from scratch" as an adult (not counting cookies and such growing up, because that was supervised and my input was usually just bowl-licking), and thankfully all of them have turned out pretty decently. The first that I can remember was chocolate peppermint cookies for my first holiday season in D.C. During this glorious pre-law school time, I was always searching for a post-work activity (besides happy hour) and decided to bake Christmas cookies as gifts for my friends and co-workers. I don't remember much about how they turned out, but I don't think there were any complaints. However, I still have the bag of peppermint candies used to make the topping- anyone know how long those things last??
The second attempt was this summer, when I decided to make a peach and blackberry cobbler with crystallized ginger biscuits (recipe from Bon Appetit's July 2008 issue). It was my first venture at using my new, gorgeously blue Kitchen-Aid mixer (light of my life! Or definitely my kitchen) and if I do say so, a rousing success. I remember yelping in delight- "I made DOUGH!"- once the mixer had worked its magic and I was rolling out actual biscuit dough on my authentically floured wood board- I was baking! It's the small things, I guess. In any case, that cobbler was amaaaazing and I can't wait to break it out again this summer.
Baking success #3 was almost an epic FAIL, but thankfully saved at the last minute. My friend Lillian was planning her New Year's Eve get together, and I decided to try Amanda Hesser's recipe for meyer lemon sable cookies from her book "Cooking for Mr. Latte" (one of my absolute favorites, as evidenced by its completely battered and stained condition- oops). Amanda suggests making the cookies a couple days in advance, if you can resist eating them entirely, in order to let the lemon flavor fully develop. So I decided to spend a leisurely Saturday afternoon making the dough- went through all the steps, lovingly wrapped the tubes of dough in plastic wrap to rest in the fridge, ate a crapload of the dough scraps from the mixing bowl, defended said dough-eating against my boyfriend's concerns that it contained raw eggs- "there aren't any eggs in the recipe! I don't know that works, but it tastes great!", and plopped on the couch to review the recipe for the next steps. "Hmm... did that, did that, good, great... 4 egg yolks. Oh crap." Having no baking experience and definitely no advice from Amanda on what to do if you make the dough without any egg yolks, I had no clue how to remedy this screwup. So I decided to just pretend I hadn't already beat the hell out of the dough, dumped the cold rolls back in the mixing bowl, added the egg yolks (side note- I love separating eggs. I think doing it successfully makes me feel all chef-y and professional, which I am far from in reality), and mixed them into the dough. Praying that I hadn't overbeaten or abused my poor cookie dough, I put the logs back in the fridge and hoped for the best. In some baking miracle, they actually turned out great- lemony little gems with a nice hint of sea salt. But yeah... I think that episode demonstrates why I like to think of myself as a cook and not a baker. I like improvising, which there is very little room for in baking, and that very slim margin of error for things like "oops! forgot the eggs!" is certainly an obstacle for me. But hopefully the more I try, the less hilarious errors like that I will make.
So, that brings us back to the almond scones and their recipe- here you go. Thanks to Tim again for the inspiration and the recipe!
- 1 cup blanched almonds (whole, slivered, or sliced), toasted
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup cold heavy cream
- 1/4 cup cold whole milk
- 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Divide the toasted almonds in half. finely grind 1/2 cup in a food processor or blender with the sugar, taking care not to overgrind the nuts and end up with almond butter. Finely chop the other 1/2 cup of almonds.
Stir the egg, cream, milk and almond extract together.
Whisk the flour, ground almond/sugar mix, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. Drop in the
butter and, using your fingers toss to coat the pieces of butter with flour. Quickly, rub the butter with your fingers into the dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly. You’ll have pea-sized pieces, and some smaller pieces.
Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir with a fork just until the dough, which will be wet and sticky, comes together. Don’t overdo it. Stir in the chopped almonds.
Still in the bowl, gently knead the dough by hand, or turn in with a wooden spatula 8-10 times. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and divide it in half. Working with one piece at a time, pat the dough into a rough circle that is about 5 inches in diameter, cut into 6 wedges and top each wedge with slices almonds if using. Place them on baking sheet.***
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until their tops are golden and firm-ish. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes before serving.
***Once the scones are cut out and on the baking sheet you can also freeze some or all of them before baking. Simply put the tray of scones in the freezer and wait until they are firm. Put the frozen scones in a freezer and you’ll have fresh warm scones whenever you like. Do not defrost, simply put the frozen scones on the a parchment lined baking sheet and add a couple of minutes to the baking time.