Monday, March 27, 2006

Two Kinds of Scones, Two Kinds of Curd

Once in a while I have to break out of the low-carb eating thing and make something with white flour, white sugar, and lots of butter. So, wanting to bring my scone recipe up to date and try a few new ingredients, I ended up making two kinds: a blueberry-ginger and an orange-cranberry.

Not stopping there, using the Meyer lemons that my friend Bill gave me, I had to make some curd for the scones because how can you have scones without lemon curd? Following my own rather industrious lead, I then decided that an orange curd, if it worked, would be a very beautiful way to use up the blood oranges in my fridge. Bingo! on all counts. Put on a pot of tea and enjoy!

Ginger-Blueberry Scones
(or “scaahns”, as my Scottish Aunt Margaret used to say)

2 ½ cups unbleached flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger

8 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Combine the dry ingredients, stirring with a whisk until blended, then place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade.
Sprinkle the pieces of butter over the flour mixture. Pulse 2 or 3 times, at about 10 seconds per pulse, or until the butter is in pieces about the size of peas and incorporated into the flour. Alternatively, you can cut the butter in with two knives or use your fingers to press the dough into the flour, but this may make for a tougher scone.
You want the butter to stay as cold as possible, so minimal handling is best.

Pour the flour/butter mixture into a mixing bowl and gently stir in:
½ cup organic dried blueberries
¼ cup chopped crystallized ginger
Zest of 1 lemon

Using a fork and your fingers, quickly stir in:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk, more or less (depending on the flour you’re using, the time of day you’re doing this, the temperature both inside and outside the house, your emotional state of mind, your significant other’s emotional state of mind, and the current planetary alignment), until the dough is still a bit crumbly-sticky but holds together when pinched.

Dump the dough on a floured pastry cloth and gently knead a few times to bring it together.
Flour the top and with a rolling pin or your hands, roll or pat to a 12” diameter about ½-inch thick.
Cut into wedges or use a cutter or glass to make rounds.
Place on an un-greased baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
Remove from oven and place scones on racks to cool.
Serve with Meyer lemon curd and your favorite tea.

Orange-Cranberry Scones
Using the same method as above, here is the list of ingredients:

2 ½ cups unbleached flour
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp cardamom
½ cup dried organic cranberries
Zest of 1 blood orange

8 tablespoons cold butter cut into small pieces

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk

Make these scones using the method above and serve with Blood Orange Curd.

Meyer Lemon Curd
5 large eggs
¾ cup superfine sugar
1 cup Meyer lemon juice
Zest from 2 Meyer lemons
6 tablespoons cold butter cut into slices

Beat the eggs then stir in the sugar. Whisk until fully blended. Pour in the lemon juice and zest and whisk until blended.
In the top of a double boiler, over simmering water, stir mixture constantly until it thickens. Drop in the butter, a few slices at a time, and whisk until melted and fully blended. The curd will start to glisten as you do this and thicken even more. When all the butter is fully incorporated, remove the top pan from the heat and set aside to cool. Pour into glass jars and top with a lid. You can serve this right away. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Blood Orange Curd
4 extra large eggs
Juice of 3 blood oranges (I got about 2/3 cup)
Juice of 2 Meyer lemons (about 1/3 cup)
¾ cup superfine sugar
6 tablespoons cold butter

I wanted to make this curd using only blood oranges, but they were not tart enough so I added Meyer lemon juice. For this recipe, I would combine the two juices first and taste for tartness. Adjust the sugar content accordingly.
Follow the steps above for lemon curd.

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