Thursday, December 21, 2006

Almond-Buttermilk Scones

My many intentions to bake lots of holiday treats this season have amounted, uncreatively, to the sole production of these scones. In an attempt, truthfully, to avoid leaving a nearly full quart of buttermilk in the refrigerator before leaving for Minnesota for the holidays I perused my recipe collection for a solution. After considering various biscuit, cornbread and panna cotta recipes, I opted simply to make a batch of my favorite buttermilk scones. I prepared and divided the dough at night, placed two scones on a cookie sheet in the refrigerator and froze the rest. In the morning, I baked off the reserved two and my husband and I happily enjoyed these flaky, not-too-sweet, and almond-packed treats for breakfast. They make a nice change from a usual routine of oatmeal and toast and feel quite festive this time of year. Any other nut, fruit or flavoring can be substituted for the almonds and the dough freezes beautifully. Enjoy!

Almond-Buttermilk Scones

a scant 2 ¼ cups (10 oz) all-purpose flour
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon (2.33 oz) sugar
1½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup sliced almonds
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 stick cold unsalted butter

2 tablespoons milk
turbinado or demera sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 375°F.
In a medium to large-sized mixing bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the almonds and stir to combine. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and the vanilla. Cut the cold butter into the flour mixture and stir to combine. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and stir to combine. Gently knead the dough together in the bowl until it is just combined. Be careful, however, not to mix and knead the dough too much—you just want to combine the ingredients. If you have to add a tablespoon more of buttermilk, do so, but otherwise just gently pack the mixture into a ball and then turn dough out onto a work surface. Gently pat and shape the dough into a rectangle approximately ¾ to 1 – inch thick. With a knife or bench scraper, cut the dough into six triangles. At this point, either freeze the cut scones in a zip lock bag or place them on Silpat or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Brush the scones with the milk and sprinkle with the sugar. (Note: you can brush the scones with anything you like: eggs, egg whites, cream, even water. If you don’t have turbinado or demera sugar, regular granulated sugar is a fine substitute.) Bake the scones for approximately 15-18 minutes. (When you bake frozen scones, remove them from freezer while oven preheats. Brush with wash just before baking and bake 18-23 minutes.) Serve immediately.