Finally, a scone recipe from the MSBH I can fully endorse. And guess what? No eggs in the dough. I adore these scones. I’ve made them several times and they always turn out well.
Fennel seeds – you’re supposed to grind up the seeds in a spice grinder or mortar & pestle. I’ve never been good at grinding seeds by hand (I more or less just end up moving them around the mortar with the pestle) and I don’t have a spice grinder. I’ve thought about getting an electric spice grinder, but I can’t help but think that the first time you use it to grind a really fragrant spice, you’ll never get that smell out of it and it will taint any spice you grind in the future. Can anyone speak to this?
So anyhow, I used my food processor with acceptable-but-not-ideal results.
And the other major component of this recipe – the golden raisins – are simply chopped up a little bit. I love cooking and baking with golden raisins. They are delightful.
One of the things that lends these scones their rich, savory flavor is the addition of extra virgin olive oil with the wet ingredients.
I always err on the side of making my dough too dry rather than too wet. It’s all a balancing act, I find, mixing a dough until it “just comes together” as the recipe instructs. I know this sort of ambiguity is why so many people do not like to bake at home. But it’s difficult to dictate an exact measurement for baked goods. I think that’s one of the major differences between cooking and baking. With cooking, you can more times than not simply rely 100% of the measurements of a trusted recipe and you’ll turn out reliably good dishes. With baking, however, you have to get a “feel” for when your dough is right. Sometimes you’ll need less flour, other times you’ll need more cream.
In baking, you often have to make a recipe over and over and, sometimes, over yet again and pay attention each time to your dough and what kind of baked good it yields. You have to understand how the desired flakyness of a certain baked good, for example, is affected by the moistness of the dough. You have to know whether adding more flour or simply a few more minutes of kneading will bring together your bread dough. And you can’t figure that out by reading a recipe – you have to learn it by doing it and redoing it.
I think that’s why so many people eschew baking beyond store-bought boxed mixes. Those mixes have been engineered to yield consistent results and have a slew of chemical ingredients to guarantee it happens. But to make baked goods from scratch, with real ingredients, you have to develop a working knowledge of how doughs should feel when they’re “right.” And, in order to develop that knowledge, you simply have to make a lot of mistakes, figure out why you made them, and learn how to correct them. Unless you can take classes and have someone teach you first-hand, the best way is through self-education (reading about the art and science of baking) and trial-and-error.
I knew when I got to this point, my scone dough was where I wanted it.
The dough is rolled out like you would for biscuits and the individual scones are cut with a cookie cutter.
The bits of butter melt while the scones bake, leaving pockets of air and giving the scones their tender, flaky quality. Butter also adds flavor and moisture. Is there anything butter cannot do? No, no there is not. Butter is massaging my shoulders and filing my taxes as I write this.
I used to always shrug off egg washes out of impatience, but they really do add a golden, polished finished to baked goods while allowing you to top the item with seeds, sugar, salt, whatever. Fennel seeds are sprinkled on top of each scone here and I also sprinkled some sea salt on top.
I like these best warm from the oven with some butter and honey. They keep pretty well but definitely lose a lot of their charm after the first day. I sometimes toast them the next day and eat them with goat cheese and red onion.