I’ll admit it – I’m not a “vanilla” person. I’m the one who needs a million toppings on my ice cream. I yearn for lots of texture and crunch, and interesting flavor combinations. Given the choice, I’d take chocolate (or caramel, or berry-filled, or dressed to the nines) any day.
But sometimes, I think it’s really important to enjoy something plain old “vanilla”. Really, truly, enjoy it. Get back to the roots of your confection, to remember how incredible it can be all on its own, without an excessive amount of chocolate, being drenched with some succulent sauce, or studded with this and that. I refuse to say “plain”, because “vanilla” should be anything but plain. Personally, I think “vanilla” is the hardest thing to do well – it needs to be exceptionally well executed in order for whatever you make to get rave reviews. So yeah, “vanilla” is a challenge.
I’ve been on a scone kick lately (but really, what “kick” am I not on, let’s be honest). And while the scones I’ve been making are good, they haven’t been GREAT, and we all know that perfection is the name of my game. I’ve tried leaving chunks of butter, grating the butter, refrigerating all ingredients, refrigerating the scones overnight, etc – and there’s always been a little something not quite right. So, I decided to go “vanilla”, and go back to square one. No chocolate, no strawberries, no glaze, no nothing. The simplest ingredients, only – butter, flour, salt, leaveners, cream, and creme fraiche. Cream scones.
Friends, these cream scones are really out of this world. Not plain in the least, and they fly directly in the face of dry, dense, overly-sweet, brick-like scones. They are high rising, impossibly light, and quite literally melt in your mouth delicious (really). The simple addition of coarse sanding sugar is the perfect adornment, that adds a slight crunch and a hint of extra sweetness.
Vanilla (and scone!) perfection.
Yield: 12 scones
- 226 grams (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold
- 135 grams (1/2 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoons) heavy cream, plus extra for brushing
- 135 grams (1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons) crème fraîche
- 304 grams (2 1/4 cups + 2 tablespoons) cake flour
- 152 grams (1 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
- 91 grams (1/4 cup + 3 1/2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
- 12.5 grams (2 1/2 teaspoons) baking powder
- 2.5 grams (1/2 teaspoon) baking soda
- Cut butter into 1/4″ pieces. Place in a small bowl, and refrigerate until ready to use.
- In a small bowl, whisk together heavy cream and crème fraîche. Set aside.
- Place all dry ingredients, cake flour through baking soda, in the bowl of a stand mixer. Fit mixer with paddle attachment, and mix on low speed for 15 seconds to combine.
- Add butter, and start mixer on lowest setting so that the flour doesn’t fly out of the bowl. Increase speed to low, and mix for 3 minutes. If there are still large chunks of butter after this mixing time, break them up with your fingers, and mix again until the pieces you broke up are just incorporated.
- With the mixer running on low, slowly pour in heavy cream mixture. Mix for about 30 seconds, until just combined.
- Place dough between sheets of plastic wrap, and press into a 9 x 6″ rectangle, squaring off the ends as much as possible. Ensure that the block has even thickness.
- Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours, until firm.
- Place a sheet of parchment on a baking sheet.
- Remove dough from refrigerator, and position so that a long end faces you. Cut dough vertically into thirds (3″ wide). Cut each third in half horizontally, and then cut each piece in half diagonally to yield 12 triangular scones. Arrange on baking sheet, leaving space between scones.
- Cover sheet with plastic wrap, and place into the freezer. Freeze for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight. Scones should be frozen solid before baking.
- Preheat oven to 350F, and line a second baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Remove scones from freezer, and transfer frozen scones to second baking sheet.
- Brush each scone with heavy cream, and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
- Bake on center rack in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown, turning the sheet halfway through baking.
- Cool on a wire rack, and enjoy! Scones are best the day they are made, but can be kept in an airtight container for 1 day.
Frozen, unbaked scones can remain in the freezer for up to one month. Bake as directed.
Source: Adapted from Bouchon Bakery