Why does summer have to end? This summer has been chillier than most which means we've enjoyed fewer beach days than normal. However, with the beginning of the school year fast approaching for Mr. Matthew, I've committed to spending as much time as possible doing fun summer-themed outings with the kids before we are no longer able to do them! This has meant lots of time at the beach.
All the stores are featuring discounted prices on summer toys. I took the kids shopping and had them each pick out a couple sand toy sets. They each were below a dollar and the kids were so happy. Matthew was especially thrilled with a plastic "claw" reminiscent of a steam shovel that can be used to scoop sand. Emma picked out some tiny shovels and a little dump truck and has just enjoyed scooping sand into the back of the truck. Both kids also love seagulls. I personally think those birds are evil.
I packed these beautiful scones to enjoy as a snack on the beach that afternoon. Scones are one of the easiest pastries to make - but also the most easy to mess up. I've had a lot of bad scones - a lot of times they can be too dry and dense. But not these scones! They were so moist - thanks to the addition of sour cream to the batter. The other secret to perfect scones is keeping everything chilled so that the end result is a perfectly flaky dough with butter flavor evenly distributed throughout. To achieve this, the butter is frozen before baking and then grated. This makes for easy, even distribution throughout the flour with some quick work of the fingertips. The dough is also folded a couple times, similar to how croissant dough is treated, and then chilled in the freezer for a few minutes before being rolling and shaping. This helps the baked scones rise more dramatically. The berries and white chocolate are scattered on top of the dough after it is rolled out for the final time and then the whole thing is rolled up cinnamon-roll style, flattened slightly, and then cut into the traditional scone shape. It's a brilliant way to incorporate those delicate, juicy berries!
These scones did not last long! Paul especially thought they were fantastic. Emma also seemed to enjoy her scone, choosing to continue chewing on it even after she had dropped it in the sand. The looks on her face as she crunched through some sand particles was priceless. I only baked half the scones and froze the remaining for a special breakfast treat sometime in the future. I have a feeling they won't be sitting in the freezer for long!
Buttery Scones with Blueberries and White Chocolate
adapted slightly from Cook's Illustrated Magazine June/July 2007
Note: Even though the recipe calls for two whole sticks of butter, only eight tablespoons are incorporated into the dough with an additional two tablespoons melted and brushed over the top prior to baking. The whole sticks of butter are used in order to make the grating process easier.
16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), frozen whole
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (about 7 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup chopped white chocolate
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces), plus additional for work surface
1/2 cup sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (optional)
1 tablespoon coarse sugar, for sprinkling
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Score and remove half of wrapper from each stick of frozen butter. Grate unwrapped ends on large holes of box grater (you should grate total of 8 tablespoons). Place grated butter in freezer until needed. Melt 2 tablespoons of remaining ungrated butter and set aside. Save remaining 6 tablespoons butter for another use. Place blueberries in freezer until needed.
Whisk together milk and sour cream in medium bowl; refrigerate until needed. Whisk flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest in medium bowl. Add frozen butter to flour mixture and toss with fingers until thoroughly coated.
Add milk mixture to flour mixture; fold with spatula until just combined. With rubber spatula, transfer dough to liberally floured work surface. Dust surface of dough with flour; with floured hands, knead dough 6-8 times, until it just holds together in ragged ball, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking.
Roll dough into approximate 12-inch square. Following illustrations, fold dough into thirds like a business letter, using bench scraper or metal spatula to release dough if it sticks to counter-top. Lift short ends of dough and fold into thirds again to form approximate 4-inch square. Transfer dough to plate lightly dusted with flour and chill in freezer for 5 minutes.
Transfer dough to floured work surface and roll into approximate 12-inch square again. Sprinkle blueberries evenly over surface of dough, then press down so they are slightly embedded in dough. Using bench scraper or thin metal spatula, loosen dough from work surface. Roll dough, pressing to form tight log. Lay seam-side down and press log into 12 by 4-inch rectangle. Using sharp, floured knife, cut rectangle crosswise into 4 equal rectangles. Cut each rectangle diagonally to form 2 triangles and transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet.
Brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon sugar. Bake until tops and bottoms are golden brown, 18 to 25 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool 10 minutes before serving.
To Make Ahead: Freeze unbaked scones on a baking sheet. When ready to bake, heat oven to 375 degrees, brush the tops with melted butter, sprinkle with sugar, and extend cooking time to 25-30 minutes.