A few months ago some friends of ours came over for brunch and brought Ge Ge his first cookbook. It’s the Williams-Sonoma Cookbook for Kids, and it’s quickly become one of his go-to reference manuals. Whenever he’s helping me with dinner, he flips to the back sections, which has diagrams of basic kitchen tools, tips and techniques and basic recipes for fundamentals such as biscuit dough, pizza crust and sauces.
“Mommy, are you sure you’re doing it right? Maybe you need to check my cookbook before you start.” We are all amateur experts in this house, apparently.
Usually, I tell him I’m doing fine, thanks. Then, the other day, while the pots simmered on the stove, he sighed. “Mommy, we eat a lot of yogurt every day for breakfast. Can we try something new?” I felt a twinge of mom guilt. I’m not a morning person, and our weekday mornings are a hustle to get everyone out the door. We usually default to cereal, fruit and yogurt most days. I turned to Ge Ge, who had his cookbook open to a recipe for what looked like an easy scone recipe. They were heart-shaped. “Can we make these tomorrow morning?”
The heart-shaped scones looked like an easy enough recipe and quite similar to one I’d tried years ago, but not a quick one for a weekday breakfast. I didn’t have the heart to say no. Ge Ge’s pleading and expectant look, combined with that dose of steady and growing mom guilt, were too powerful to fight. “I’ll tell you what,” I said. “You go to bed nicely tonight, and I’ll bake them while you’re sleeping so that you can have them first thing in the morning.”
Since I usually do everything for my blog in the evenings (I schedule them to post on my blog during the day), as soon as we’d cleaned up from dinner I measured out my core ingredients for the scones: flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and golden raisins (the heavy cream stayed in the ‘fridge so that it could stay cold). The original recipe called for dried cranberries, but I didn’t have any on hand and I wasn’t about to make a special trip to the grocery store. We also didn’t have a heart-shaped cookie cutter, but I had a star-shaped one that looked roughly the same size. That’ll do, I thought. That’ll just have to do. Easy star scones.
This little routine — measuring and setting up ingredients well in advance and making substitutions on the fly as well as I can — is basically the start of my process for any blog recipe that I post. I’m a big believer that cooking shouldn’t be a big to-do, and behind every core recipe are swaps that can be made with existing pantry items without creating the need for more grocery runs for items to be used in a single recipe. Sometimes, my attempts to make a recipe my own, or simply just make them with what I already have in my kitchen, are big, fat miserable fails. In fact, I’d say one out of every three recipes is. It’s super disappointing, because it means I have to make the recipe again to try to figure out what went wrong before I can post about it here.
Happily, by the time I came back around to my carefully laid-out ingredients (I usually measure and set my working station for testing recipes, then go put the kids to bed, then come back to review and make sure I have everything I need measured in the right quantities), everything was still right where I’d left it. On more than one occasion I’ll measure out and come back to discover a tiny finger swipe through my gradually softening butter, or I might be missing half of my chocolate chips. It’s eat or be eaten over here, too.
This scone recipe, despite my shape substitution and missing dried cranberries, turned out to be excellent. The scones were flaky yet satisfyingly dense without being overly heavy or greasy. I also can’t stand a dried out scone, so I let mine cool on a wire rack before storing them in an airtight container overnight, and the next morning, with a quick zap in the microwave (less than ten seconds), I found them still deliciously moist and, because they were slightly warm, perfectly willing to help melt a small pat of salted Irish butter. The kids loved the star shapes, and the scones are easy enough that we’re incorporating them into our weekend breakfasts (when we’re not having crepes, of course). I can also see these making an appearance the next time I host an afternoon tea for the ladies.
Oooh, that sounds like fun. A tea with big floral hats and clotted cream and raspberry jam? Yes, please.
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- For the scones:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup golden raisins (or any other sweet dried fruit)
- ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons chilled heavy cream
- For the topping:
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a large work surface by lightly dusting it with flour, and set up a foil or parchment paper lined baking sheet (for baking your finished scones). Lightly spray a cookie cutter (approximately 3 inches in size) with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt, then add the dried fruit and cream. Using a rubber spatula, mix together until everything is just blended.
- Knead the dough gently using your hands, pressing the dough against the sides of the bowl until the dough forms a ball (do not over-knead).
- Turn out the dough onto your work surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it is about ¾ inch thick. Using your cookie cutter, cut out shapes and place on cookie sheet.
- Gather up the remaining dough and knead gently, then roll out again to the same thickness. Cut out shapes with the leftover dough until no dough remains.
- Pour the cream for the topping into a small cup and brush the tops with cream, then sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake the scones for 10-12 minutes until golden brown on top. Transfer to a wire rack to cool and then to an airtight container to store overnight. Serve slightly warmed with salted Irish butter or raspberry jam.
This recipe was adapted from the heart-shaped scone recipe on page 85 of Williams-Sonoma’s Cookbook for Kids