It would be crazy to know how many scones I have baked in the past ten years, don't you agree? This recipe was probably the first one I tried when I needed few morning pastry recipes for my very first job. Joy of Baking was one of the first internet sites that offered a huge array of recipes, all of which were really good. The recipe I use has been slightly modified from the original but it is such a good recipe I never felt the need to find another one. At my second job in a tiny restaurant that was open for breakfast for its first 5 months two sweet ladies came in almost everyday just for the scones, and when I was selling them at a local farmers market, the ginger scones were among my best sellers.
The first time I had a scone was in Ireland, the morning after we camped on one of the Aran Islands. We woke up early, started walking and stopped at a farm house that was converted into a restaurant. The place was not open for breakfast, but the lovely owner, a woman in her late 20's, invited us in and served tea and a delicious triangular pastry that must have been a scone. The dried fruit and seeds made them delicious, I wish I could try her recipe, that was one of the most wonderful breakfasts of my life. I suspect that the butter had a lot to do with the incredible taste.
I have made these scones with currants, dried cherries and anise seeds, chocolate chips, or crystallized ginger, and everyone who has tried them raved about them, so go ahead and try them, you will never go back.
The trick to light and flaky scones is to use cold ingredients and handle the dough as little as you can. Once cut, they store for weeks in the freezer so double the recipe us and freeze some to keep for a moment's notice.
Adapted from The Joy of Baking
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
6 oz butter, cubed and chilled
2/3 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 375F. Mix all the ingredients in the bowl of a mixer. Add cold butter, mix with the paddle attachment until the butter pieces are pea size. Add the chocolate chips or any other dry ingredients, mix for few seconds. Add the buttermilk and mix just until incorporated. Transfer the dough onto a floured surface, finish the mixing by hand to avoid overworking the dough, form a ball and flatten it to a disk 1.5" high. Cut the disk in eighths, brush with cream, sprinkle with crystal sugar (optional), and bake until golden, 15-20 minutes (turn the temperature down to 350 half way). Variations: 1 cup chocolate chips, or 1 cup currants. Add other ingredients to taste, like anise or caraway seeds. For ginger scones add 1 tsp ginger powder to the dry ingredients, and 2/3 cup crystallized ginger chopped in 1/4" pieces.