I don't know if other people have such strong feelings about scones, but I'm very picky about mine. For years, I've been making them one way and have been happy with the results. The recipe isn't anything particularly complicated: flour, , butter, heavy cream, sugar (you know, the best things on Earth), some baking powder, and salt. The dough is always loaded with whatever I feel compelled to mix in (blueberries or chocolate chips never disappoint). The recipe works... providing a dense, but flakey pastry. I've made it countless times and thought, "Well, I got that one down. Can't imagine a better scone recipe than this."
And then I made Samantha Seneviratne's fig and black pepper scones from her gorgeous book, The New Sugar & Spice: A Recipe for Bolder Baking. I came late to the party and, for some reason, just recently got around to baking from it. Having heard rave reviews, I had to try something... anything. When I saw these scones, I knew that I had to whip up a batch. They are marvelous scones. To be honest, the best I've ever had. And, with her permission, I'm sharing the recipe with all of you. Per Samantha's suggestion, I served them with a dollop of clotted cream.
In addition, I'm thrilled to announce that I'm giving away a copy of The New Sugar & Spice to one lucky person. Just leave a comment on this post (one entry per person). It's only open to U.S. residents (sorry to my Canadian and international readers). Giveaway closes at 12PM EST on Friday, May 6th. The winner will be contacted via e-mail.
Mission Fig and Black Pepper Scone
The New Sugar & Spice by Samantha Seneviratne (very mildly adapted)
8 big scones
1/4 cup cold heavy cream, plus more for brushing
1/4 cup cold buttermilk
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups (10 1/8 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 1/2 ounces dried Mission figs, stemmed and finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
1. In a small bowl, stir together the cream, buttermilk, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, pepper, and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it is the texture of coarse meal with some larger pea-size pieces. Add the figs and toss to combine.
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Add the cream mixture to the flour mixture and mix with a fork just until shaggy dough forms. Tip the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it, just 2 or 3 times, to get the mixture to come together. Try not to overwork the dough. Form the dough into a 6-inch circle. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 8 equal triangles. Spread the triangles out evenly on the prepared sheet. Freeze for 20 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
4. Brush the tops of the frozen scones with cream and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake the scones until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 15 to 18 minutes. Completely frozen scones may take a few extra minutes. These are best eaten warm.
Serve with clotted cream (see recipe below)
Credit: Reprinted with permission from The New Sugar and Spice, by Samantha Seneviratne, copyright © 2015, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
Quick Clotted Cream
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar, sifted
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the heavy cream until it forms stiff peaks.
2. Hand whisk the sour cream, vanilla extract and confectioner's sugar into the whipped cream until completely blended.