Most of my younger childhood years were spent growing up in a small town at the far northwestern corner of Montana, near the Canadian border. In fact, if you were hiking in the mountains or foothills to the north of town, you had to pay attention and take care that you didn't stray into the next country! I remember agreeing with my sister, though, that if you were paying attention, you'd notice the definite difference between Canadian trees and American trees. Definite difference. I'm not sure if anyone else noticed this.
(Maybe because there really was no difference?)
A ways up the highway into Canada about an hour or so, lived a family who, we found out, was somehow loosely related to us. He was, that is. His wife was from England. She was the first person from England that we children had ever met, and we were impressed with her delightful British accent and "fancy" English ways. It was in their home, one day, that I remember eating my first scone with afternoon tea.
She had set an elegant table with fine china and beautiful linens, poured the tea, and served her homemade scones hot, with butter and jam. Somehow, sitting there at that fancy table, we didn't need to be reminded to sit up straight, or mind our manners. In fact, I think I might have even lifted my pinkie as I raised my teacup.
But, the scones. They were light and sweet with a delicate, buttery crumb that sort of melted in your mouth. Oh, my. I'd never tasted anything quite like them. They surely left an impression on me. A delicious, fancy-food impression. A delicious, fancy-food-therefore-it-must-be-hard-to-make impression. And so, for years, I never even tried! I must have thought that you had to be British and have beautiful table linens and fancy china first. So sad. So sad for all our Saturday morning breakfasts, and our weekday afternoon snacks.
Thankfully, somewhere along the way, I realized how silly this was, the fancy-food-scone-fear, and I decided to overcome. Even though all I had for my table were stoneware coffee mugs and simple cotton napkins, I gathered up my resolve, took a deep breath, stood at the kitchen counter, and carefully followed a recipe.
Uh, people? Scones are so easy to make! I mean, so, so easy.
If you can make biscuits, you can make scones. If you can dump ingredients into a bowl, you can make scones. If you can whack butter around with flour, you can make scones. I dare say, if you can butter toast, you can make scones. You really can. Go ahead and give it a try.
For the sake of your Saturday morning breakfasts and weekday afternoon snacks.
adapted from The Joy of Cooking
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup, plus 1 tablespoon of sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
1 large handful dried , roughly chopped
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup heavy cream
zest from one lemon
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place oven rack in middle position.
In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. With a pastry blender, cut in cold butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add cranberries, stir. To dry mixture, add egg, milk and lemon zest. Stir with wooden spoon until just moistened. Don't overwork! Turn dough out onto lightly floured board, knead just a few turns, then flatten with the palms of your hands into a flat disc about 1" thick. Cut into wedges, like a pie. Transfer wedges onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Back in hot oven for 12-14 minutes, or just until edges start to brown. Serve warm with butter and jam.