I know a woman who's a fabulous cook, renowned for her utterly scrumptious dishes. She's beautiful, educated, well-traveled, successful--in every way a triumph of womanhood. But she won't share her recipes with anybody.
In my opinion, that's a shame.
One of the chief delights of my life is cooking for the people I love, and I share my recipes with anybody who asks. (Heck, even if they don't ask!) I figure, cooking is love, and sharing my best recipes with more people means more love to spread around.
And when is more love in the world not a good thing?
So, here's one of my best, most favorite recipes. "Easy Drop Scones" dates back 10 or 15 years ago, when I found it in a women's magazine. (I can't remember which; really, I wish I'd kept track of these things so I can give credit where credit's due!). The entire recipe without pictures is at the end of this post. But the pictures make it yummier, no?
Start by cutting up some very cold butter into little pieces. Try to handle the butter as little as possible because you don't want it to warm up from your hands:
Toss it into a food processor (fitted with the knife blade) along with flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt:
Buzz everything until the butter is in little bits and the mixture looks like slightly bumpy flour:
Pour the floury mixture into a large bowl and dump in some dried fruit. I used dried cherries, but this recipe works equally well with raisins, currants, chopped-up dates, chopped-up apricots, or almost any kind of dried fruit you can think of:
Measure out a half cup of milk:
And then stir one egg into the milk until it's well incorporated:
A Side Note: If for any reason you have to interrupt yourself, this is a good place to stop. Stick the bowl of dry ingredients/fruit into the fridge, and set the milk/egg mixture alongside it.
The key is to keep that butter COLD! Bits of cold butter, suspended in an unbaked biscuit or scone or similar item, then placed in a hot oven, will result in little mini-explosions within the baked good that create tenderness and pockets of yumminess.
Ooh, I love pockets of yumminess!
So refrigerate everything if you can't work swiftly enough to keep the butter cold:
Then when you're ready to proceed, pour the wet ingredients into the flour/fruit mixture:
And stir them up quickly. There's a little flour left in the bottom of the bowl below, see? The mass needs another few stirs, but don't stir things to death: That results in tougher biscuits and scones. You need a swift, light hand:
There we go! A clean bowl bottom and a shaggily incorporated mass:
Using a big spoon or your fingers (my favorite method), plop the scones onto a buttered cookie sheet:
This recipe makes 12 medium-sized scones or 9 big honkers. I like the honker size:
Sprinkle up to one tablespoon of sugar over the tops of the scones. I usually end up sprinkling about half of a tablespoon:
Ugh! Gigantic Thumb of Death! Anyway, here's what the scones look like before popping into a hot oven. They're shaggy and not too precise:
When they're done, about 12 to 14 minutes later, they should be just turning golden brown:
Aaaah! The smell alone is divine! And as I said, they're big. Here's a teaspoon laid next to them, for size comparison:
Let them cool on a cooling rack. Yeah~just try to let them cool! Once the smell of these babies wafts through your house, they'll start disappearing before they hit room temperature.
And that's how it should be. You're welcome.
Easy Drop Scones
2 C. all-purpose flour
1/3 C. sugar, plus 1 Tbsp. more (reserve it for sprinkling)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. cold butter, cut up (no substitutes!)
2/3 C. dried fruit, cut up
1/2 C. milk
1 large egg
1. Heat oven to 425 Fahrenheit. Grease a cookie sheet. Pulse flour, 1/3 C. sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter in a food processor until the texture of fine meal. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in dried fruit.
2. Beat milk and egg together with a fork. Add to flour mixture; stir with fork until dry ingredients are evenly moistened.
3. Drop dough by 12 heaping tablespoonsful (or 9 huge ones), 2 inches apart, onto prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake 12 to 14 minutes, or until golden. Transfer to wire rack. Makes 12 medium or 9 huge scones.