Summer Ginger Spice Scones Recipe
Last evening, we experienced a rather wicked storm here, with eerie dark gray skies, driving rain, lightening that caused repeated power and cable outages, which somehow put me in the mood to bake. While it is not yet fall, I craved something warm and spicy. So, this morning, I baked a batch of Ginger Spice Scones, and decided to update this previous post that provides my Basic Buttermilk Scone recipe and the added variation to make this morning’s version, flavored with brown sugar, Chinese ginger, warm cinnamon, and some golden and dark raisins, the tops golden and shimmering with a sprinkling of demera sugar added prior to baking. Please scroll to the bottom of this post for this recipe variation.
According to the calendar, it is not yet summer, but in my area of the world, the daily high temperatures signal that it is summer. Summertime Sunday brunches with friends are a favorite tradition, and often feature sweet and savory scones. I have a basic buttermilk scone recipe that has been my favorite for the past 12 years or so, based on a recipe from an old Bed and Breakfast cookbook. Once you master this simple recipe and technique, you can create many variations by altering the agents of flavor and perfume. Your scones may be sweet or savory, but they will always have a moist, crumbly texture, a golden brown top, and a bit of a crunch to the crust.
Basic Buttermilk Scones
Time: 10 minutes prep and 13-16 minutes baking
Preheat the oven to 425 F
Tools: your hands, or as Jacques Pepin says, “my favorite tool in the kitchen!” You may use a pastry cutter, if you prefer. Some prefer to use the food processor to pulse the dry ingredients and the butter, but I have found that this alters the texture. One full size baking sheet, and parchment paper
3 cups of all-purpose flour ( I prefer King Arthur organic)
1/3 cup granulated sugar (omit for savory scones)
1 teaspoon salt
2 and ½ teaspoons baking powder ( I prefer sans aluminum)
1 teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons very cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes ( I prefer Kerrygold—it is a creamy tasting European style butter made with milk from grass-fed cows)
1 cup buttermilk, whole or low fat if you wish
Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and give it a stir. If you are adding any herbs or spices for a variation, now is the time to add them. Next, add the cubes of butter to the dry ingredients, and using your fingers or a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until it is well-distributed and the mixture is coarse and has the appearance of pea-sized globules. Now, add the buttermilk, as well as any extracts, zests, grated cheeses, bacon bits, fresh or dried fruits to the flour/butter mixture. Mix with a spatula until just combined. Be gentle if you are adding fresh berries.
Turn the mixture out on a sheet of parchment paper that is dusted with flour, and flour your hands. Now, pat the dough out, gently insuring that all ingredients are combined well, patting it into a ¾ inch thick circle or rectangle. You can cut the circle into wedges, the rectangle into squares, or you can use a 2 inch round biscuit cutter, if you wish. Place the scones on a parchment lined baking sheet, and brush the tops lightly with buttermilk or half and half. You may sprinkle the tops of sweet scones with demera sugar or a Lavender Vanilla Bean sugar, as I did for my Lemon Blueberry Scones, or your preferred flavored sugar.
Bake for 13-16 minutes. The tops should be golden, and these scones rise very nicely! Yield is 10-15 scones, dependent upon your style of cutting them. Cool on a wire rack, and then serve. They freeze well, and any leftover scones can be freshened the day after baking by warming for about 10-15 seconds in the microwave.
Here is how I made the Lemon Blueberry Scones:
I added the zest of 2 large lemons to the dry ingredients. Add the juice of that lemon to the buttermilk before adding the buttermilk and a cup of fresh rinsed and drained blueberries into the flour/butter mixture. After brushing the tops of the cut scones with buttermilk, sprinkle with Lavender Vanilla Bean sugar or sugar of your choice. I had some Lavender Vanilla Bean sugar from my local Savory Spice Shop, which is my very reliable source for fabulously fresh dried herbs and spices, as well as excellent quality extracts and baking cocoas. Bake as directed in the Basic Buttermilk Scone recipe.
These are really fabulous smeared with lemon curd, but butter will do!
Parmesan Thyme Scones
These are heavenly whether they are served alongside fried chicken at dinner, or with an herbed butter and a slice of your favorite ham at brunch.
Using the Basic Buttermilk recipe, add 2 tablespoons of fresh thyme, easily stripped from their twiggy little branches using your index finger and thumb, to the dry ingredients. Add the zest of one large lemon as well at this stage. Add some freshly ground black pepper as well. When you get to the step of adding the buttermilk, also add 1 and ½ cups of finely grated Parmesan cheese. Continue through the directions for forming, brushing the topes with buttermilk and baking.
These have a delicious salty Parmesan flavor, brightened and perfumed by the thyme and the lemon zest.
In the future, you are likely to see many other variations on my basic buttermilk scones. During the fall and Christmas holidays, I make Double Ginger Scones, utilizing ground Chinese Ginger, finely chopped candied ginger, and molasses! See how many flavor variations you can create! Recipes are just a jumping off point!
Ginger and Spice Scones
Yields 16 round 2 inch scones
For this method, follow the Basic Buttermilk Scone recipe, with the following variations:
For the sugar, use half dark brown sugar and half granulated. Wren you whisk together the dry ingredients, add 1 generous Tablespoon of good ground ginger–I use an organic Chinese ginger that provides powerful ginger flavor. Also, add 1 generous Tablespoon of cinnamon–I like organic ground Ceylon cinnamon. Add 1 cup of raisins when you add the buttermilk. I used 1/2 golden and 1/2 dark raisins. After you form then scones, brush the tops with buttermilk lightly, and sprinkle with demera sugar. Bake at 425 degrees F for 13-16 minutes. The scones should be golden brown, and the tops firm to touch when done.
These scones have a bit of sweet crunch on top, are moist and light, and have warm spice flavors that provide a hint of fall that is to come! And, of course, with fall will come the Pumpkin Spice Scones, so visit again!