Monday, October 19, 2009

Date Scone - a 2 method comparative analysis

Date Scone - a 2 method comparative analysis
Home Cooking


Yes, yes, I really shouldn't harp on about the things I love and am obsessed with but in my defense, this IS my food blog so what better outlet am I going to have?

Judging by the number of scone recipes I've posted on here, you probably have a fair idea of my attitude towards scones; i.e. they rock my world.

I don't even disagree with people who say plain scones are bland. If I had a limited range of adjectives, I'd probably use 'bland' too! But they are bland in such a good way. Add cream and jam and you're set for win.


Now... onto date scones.

I have a girlfriend and whilst we share very similar taste in clothes and shoes, our taste in boys and scones are at opposite ends. The former is a good thing. The later is more baffling. We argue about the different properties of scones: cakey, fluffy, light, dense, creamy, buttery... and can never seem to agree on which are good/bad.

However, all that ceases to matter because we're both huge fans of the date scones at Cool Beans Cafe, Adelaide St in the city. They are huge and goodness (and great value).

During our scone debates, we discuss the different methods of making scones. From what I can see, there are a few basic recipes that you can modify/add to. There are the recipes with butter, and there are the recipes with cream. Some use lemonade.

Usually, when I make scones I just bang together whatever I have in the pantry until I get a good consistency of dough - no measurements, no nothing. This isn't because I'm so pro that I just 'know' instinctively how to arrive at the perfect product. It's more out of laziness than anything else and I do get better and worst batches.

For the purpose of this post, I actually followed 2 different date scone recipes VERY accurately so I could give a good verdict.

One uses butter.

The other uses cream.

Which comes out on top? Read to find out...

Date Scones Batch 1 (using butter in the dough)
Makes 12 (I halved this recipe to make 6)

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups of self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp all spice
  • 30g chopped butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped, pitted dates
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
Procedure:

1) Preheat the oven to 220 degrees. Line an oven tray with baking paper.
2) Sift flour and all spice together in a large bowl. Add the butter and rub in with fingertips.3) Stir in dates and sugar.
4) Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add combined milk and egg at once (reserving around 1 tsp for glazing).5) Turn mixture out onto a lightly floured surface (if too sticky, add just enough flour to make it a cohesive dough). Press out till about 3cm thick.6) Cut into rounds. Place close together on the baking tray. Brush with the reserved milk mixture and bake for around 12-15min until the scones sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.7) Cool on a wire rack before serving.

Scone 1 texture shot


It is recommended to serve date scones warm with butter but I think they're fabulous on their own. These ones look quite cute and I cut the dates up really finely so the dough itself has a strong date flavor. The texture is dense and sweet.

Date Scones Batch 2 (using cream in the dough)
Makes 9

Ingredients:
  • 1 and 1/2 cups self raising flour
  • 1 heaped tbsp icing sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup of cream
  • 1/2 cup of milk (or 1/4 cup of milk and 1/4 cup of date water, which is what I used)
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates
Procedure:

1) Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
2) Put dates in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 10min. Drain and let cool.
3) Stir together the flour, sugar and salt.
4) Combine the liquids and stir into the flour. 5) Mix with a spatula (or butter knife, as I did)6) Stir in the dates.
7) Press the dough onto a board (I found it was still sticky at this stage so I just added more self-raising flour until it just came together) and cut into rounds.8) It wasn't specified in the recipe but to be fair (when comparing with the previous recipe), I egg-washed these as well. You don't have to though. Bake for 10-15min until golden on top.


These scones come out with a lovely crumbly, dense texture. Just perfect for me.

Scone 2 texture shot

The verdict?

I think I prefer the cream scones simply because I hate crumbing butter into flour. HATE IT. The cream scone dough was stickier and harder to form into a nice shape but... I'm not too picky about appearance.

The butter scones weren't hugely better in terms of texture so I might as well opt for the easier method. Also, I learnt that cutting the dates up smaller makes them more integrated into the dough (which for me, is a good thing). I liked the addition of allspice, though, so I might do that for the cream method.

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