10 Dec Buttermilk Scones | 2 Make-Ahead Options
My shoulder’s ache, my fingertips have callouses, and the daylight hurts my eyes. But The Messy Baker is written, filed electronically and a 292-page, double-spaced paper copy is beating up all the Christmas cards as it pushes its way to HarperCollins in Toronto. I have promised myself I will not obsessively check the tracking number until Wednesday —the earliest realistic delivery date. Wednesday noon? All bets are off.
In the process of the Last Big Push, I broke a personal record or two. Not only did I write more words than the not-so-great NaNoWriMo novel of 2009, all were coherent (relatively) and spelled correctly (or at least recognizably). In addition, I am now officially the household champion of The Most Consecutive Days Spent Unwashed & in Pajamas — Without a Raging Fever or Knee Surgery Category. Until now, that title was held by my husband during the panic-infused finishing stretch of his recent book.
I used to take comfort in my leaf green house robe. Now it reeks of hysteria and is stained with writer’s tears. A Messy Robe for a Messy Baker. Everything is unfolding as it should.
Buttermilk Scones with Two Make-Ahead Options
In keeping with the theme of my book, I thought my first post-manuscript entry should be a classic with practical tips. And buttermilk scones are the perfect choice.
Scones are best when served fresh from the oven. Sure, they’re okay a few hours later or even the next morning, but nothing beats when they land on your plate almost too hot to split and butter. Buttermilk scones are an integral part of the Christie Christmas morning. They must be homemade. They cannot be baked from commercial dough or heated up bakery versions. After a few harried Christmas mornings I got smart. I created Option #1. It worked for years.
Then my mom requested I make scones for her 80th birthday brunch. Hot buttermilk scones. For 50 people. My Christmas morning solution, which still required mixing, rolling and cutting, wasn’t going to work. So I developed Option #2. The mixing, rolling and cutting are done well in advance but they spend a few more minutes in the oven. Everyone liked the results. Some even dared suggest scones are better done this way. I leave that up to you.
Think fresh-baked scones on Christmas morning are unrealistic? Not any more. Here’s the recipe with more baking options than you have excuses.
- 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ cup cold butter, cubed
- 1 cup buttermilk
- If making right away, preheat oven to 425°F.
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together.
- Using a pastry knife or a food processor fitted with a blade, cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until the butter is the size of peas. If using a food processor, pulse in 2-second bursts. Follow the baking option that works best for you.
- Traditional method: Pour the buttermilk over the flour mixture and stir with a sturdy wooden spoon to form a ball. Knead the dough on a floured board. Roll to ¾-inch thick. Cut into 3-inch circles. Gather the leftover dough, roll it again quickly and cut more circles. Don’t roll a third time. But don’t throw out the leftover dough, either. Instead, use your fingers to squish the scattered bits into one final lumpy scone. Our family calls this “the ugly scone,” but for all its lumps, we fight for who gets the privilege to eat it.
- Option #1: Cover and store the butter and flour mixture in the fridge over night. In the morning, add the wet ingredients and cut the scones while the oven heats.
- Option #2: Follow the traditional method but instead of placing the baking sheet in the oven, pop the unbaked, cut scones into the freezer. Once the scones are frozen solid (about half an hour) transfer them to a resealable freezer bag and store in the freezer. They will keep for up to 2 months. When you're ready to bake, place them on baking sheet and allow them to sit at room temperature while the oven heats.
- Baking instructions: Place scones on an ungreased baking sheet and bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden (5 to 10 minutes longer for frozen scones). Serve immediately.