Monday, January 26, 2009

Cherry and Almond Scones

Cherry and Almond Scones
Home Cooking

I whip up scones almost on a regular basis and I've thought about writing up a post about them. You have to agree though that stock standard scones are so straight forward that there's really no bragging rights (not that I keep this blog for that reason :D ).

When I was brainstorming what to do with my last supply of cherries, I came up with the idea of adding them to my scones. Sure, there are date scones, sultana scones and whatnot so a cherry scone made perfect sense to me. I found a recipe online for using almond meal in conjunction with plain flour for the scones so I thought maybe a cherry almond scone could work. In truth, I can't vouch for what the almond meal added to the scones other than making them a bit denser than usual.

This is my OWN experimental recipe so please, if you decide to go for it, take into heed my advice and apply your personal experience too.

The problems with the first batch using my own recipe was:
  • Bit too dense
  • Not sweet enough
  • No almond flavor in the dough
Alterations I'll try in the future:
  • Buttermilk instead of skim milk
  • Higher moisture content
  • Addition of sugar (maybe soak cherries in syrup before adding them in)
  • Bit more rising agent
  • Use of almond extract for extra flavor
  • It might work equally well without almond meal
  • In a review of the almond meal scone recipe, someone suggested increasing the butter content and also sprinkling sugar on the scones before baking. I think that would have helped with the lack of sweetness and moisture (this reviewer also added cherries and almond flakes, which is what I did!)
Cherry and Almond Scones
Makes 3 med-sized scones

  • 1/4 cup ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • small pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup milk (I used skim milk but I recommend buttermilk)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cherries
  • scant handful of almond flakes or slivers

1. I knew the water content of the cherry would affect the dough. Rather than throwing them in the end as is usual for the addition of fruit, I combined the dry ingredients and added the cherries. I mashed the cherries in with the flour so release their juices so I could better judge how much milk to add.2. I poured in the butter and combined evenly.
3. Finally, I added the milk until it was a sticky dough that still held its shape and added in the almond flakes (I think an ideal dough should be wetter than I what I had). BE GENTLE WHEN MIXING SCONES, especially if using buttermilk or yogurt as part of your wet ingredients.4. Shape into round blobs on a baking paper-lined tray.
I floured the paper but that was completely unnecessary and just burnt the flour

5. Bake in a preheated oven at 170 degrees Celsius until swollen and slightly golden on the outside but cooked inside. As you know, scones are still moist and soft inside so a skewer test won't help you here. I baked mine for about 10-15min.

Blue babies - very exotic in appearance

The end result was beautiful to look at. The plum purple cherries somehow gave the scones an unreal blue hue so that when you serve the scones, they are golden and blue. Very pretty. As for taste, the almond flakes and cherries brought a nice extra omph to the table without being overwhelming. This was still a scone that tasted best when eaten with butter and jam. If you want it to be more stand-alone, you'll need to take some of my advice at the start of this post which is to add sugar, vanilla or almond extract and use buttermilk to improve the texture. I'll update this post if I repeat my experiment and come up with a superior recipe.

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