Friday, July 3, 2009

What to Bake on the Fourth of July

Since I usually have houseguests on my birthday (that’s what you get for being born on July 3), I try to make a breakfast that they’ll enjoy just as much as they will. Here is this year’s selection, berry scones (I went overboard at Citarella’s on Thursday when I saw that blueberries were $1.99 and raspberries were $2.99) with the colors of the holiday. Enjoy this crazy weekend.

Red, White, and Blue Scones
Makes 6 scones

The idea of folding the dough (for a puff pastry-like lightness) is from Cook’s Illustrated. It’s also important for a high rise that the butter is extra cold, and that you freeze the mixing bowl for a few minutes before mixing the dough. In fact, I cut and froze the butter and put the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl in the freezer the night before, so that everything would be chilled, and I wouldn’t have to work too hard on the morning of my birthday. In place of the sanding sugar, you could use a tablespoon of granulated sugar.

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour plus a tablespoon or two more as necessary
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
½ cup blueberries
½ cup raspberries
½ cup buttermilk
1 egg white, lightly beaten
White sanding sugar for sprinkling

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the butter into small (1/8-inch cubes or even smaller is good) pieces, place in a bowl, and freeze for at least 30 minutes.
2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Freeze for at least 30 minutes.
3.Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
4. Place the flour mixture and the butter in the workbowl of a food processor and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few larger butter pieces throughout. Turn it into a mixing bowl and stir in the buttermilk with a rubber spatula until a ragged dough forms, adding more flour, a tablespoon at a time, as necessary.
5. Turn the dough out onto a floured piece of parchment paper and gently roll it into a 9-inch square. Scatter the berries on top of the dough and gently press them in.
6. Fold the top third of the dough towards the center, and then fold the bottom third upwards to create a skinny rectangle. Pat the rectangle into an even 9 by 3-inch rectangle. Cut the rectangle into three 3-inch squares. Cut each square in half on the diagonal, so you have 6 triangles (I hope you did well in Geometry!).
8. Push the scones at least 2 inches apart from each other.Lightly brush the tops (not the sides) with the egg white, sprinkle with the sugar, and freeze for 15 minutes.
7. Bake until golden, 18 to 20 minutes, slide the scones, still on the parchment onto a wire rack, cool 10 minutes and serve warm, or cool completely and serve warm.

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