Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Silicone, scones, and a mat made in heaven

Yesterday morning, when I was making my favorite scone recipe from The Best Recipe, I got thinking about the difference my silicone baking mat has made in my life as a baker.

To read me waxing poetic about said mat (and to learn why it belongs on The Apartment Gourmet’s site) go here.

Otherwise, get yourself a mat of your own and treat yourself to a batch of these scones. You won’t be disappointed in the baking or the eating—I promise.

Sweet Milk Scones
Makes 8 or 9 3-inch scones

What you’ll need:
Measuring cups—liquid and dry
Measuring spoons
Large mixing bowl
Whisk or fork
Rolling pin or empty bottle of wine or the like
3-inch biscuit cutter or round drinking glass with approx. 3-inch diameter
Baking mat
Baking tray

2 cups flour, more for dusting
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 scant T sugar
4 T unsalted butter, cold
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup dried currants or blueberries (optional), plumped in warm water for 5 minutes

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl and mix thoroughly with whisk or fork. Cut butter into small pieces and toss to coat with flour. Using your fingers, press butter into flour mixture using a squeezing motion until mixture resembles coarse meal with a few larger lumps of butter. If you’re using currants or blueberries, stir them in. Working quickly, make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the milk. Stir together with a spatula, making sure to scrape up dry bits from sides and bottom of bowl, until a wet dough forms. Thoroughly flour a work surface and your rolling pin or bottle. Turn dough out onto surface, sprinkle some flour on top, and roll into 1/2 inch thickness. Using a floured biscuit cutter or drinking glass, cut 3-inch scones and place on mat-covered baking tray, at least 1/2 inch apart. Roll scraps together into 1/2 inch thickness and cut again until all dough is used.

Bake 10-12 minutes, or until golden, rotating the tray halfway through.

Several weeks ago, I made a three-citrus curd from a recipe featured in the New York Times. As curd flavors go, it’s divine. As recipes go, it’s not the best, or the most well-tested, that I’ve ever made. The curd never thickens to a true curd-like consistency; mine turned out more like custard, as did the curd of a friend of mine with whom I consulted, despondently, after the fact. But it is, custard-like or not, great on these scones, as are preserves of any kind. After all, what are scones but a vehicle for toppings?

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