Sunday, February 27, 2011
Buttermilk Cranberry Scones and Meyer Lemon Curd
My favorite time for afternoon tea is four o'clock. It's the perfect time, when you think about it. Three o'clock is too early, I'm usually still full from lunch. Five o'clock is too late, I certainly don't want to spoil my dinner. But four o'clock? Four o'clock is just perfect.
Unfortunately, more often than not the chaos of life doesn't allow for four o'clock tea. Afternoons are the busiest part of the day around here and when I do have free time, I'm usually trying to get a hike in before the sun sets. Four o'clock tea is a luxury and, well, my life is far from luxurious.
But if I do have time for four o'clock tea, I want these scones to be there. Buttermilk cranberry scones to be exact. With Meyer lemon curd on the side. "Yes, I'd like that with an Earl Gray, please."
These scones are actually very lovely and perfect at many times of day, including breakfast. The buttermilk and the cranberries make them slightly tangy and they are oh-so-moist and flaky, just like any good scone should be. And the Meyer lemon curd? Don't even get me started. It's delicious, it tastes like lemonade. Or lemon meringue pie. Or lemon bars. Mmm... The sweet and tart lemon curd is the perfect accompaniment to these scones. They're a match made in heaven and are sure to make you smile, anytime of day.
Adapted from Gourmet, March 1990
The buttermilk flavor really shines through in these scones. The original recipe calls for sour cherries, but I love the flavor of dried cranberries (and that's what I had in my pantry). I had to add a touch more buttermilk than half a cup -- my dough was far too dry. Also, with regards to the cake flour, I highly recommend you use it because it really makes a difference. There really is no direct substitution for cake flour, but if all-purpose flour is all you have, you can subtract two tablespoons of all-purpose flour and add a tablespoon of cornstarch for each cup of cake flour that the recipe calls for (that is, 1 cup cake flour = 1 cup - 2 tablespoons ap flour + 1 tablespoon cornstarch). But that's just an approximation, obviously cake flour is best.
1/2-3/4 cup of buttermilk plus 1/4 cup for brushing scones
1 large egg
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup cake flour (not self rising)
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) very cold salted butter
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Granulated or turbinado sugar for sprinkling
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. In a bowl whisk together 1/2 cup of the buttermilk, the egg, the brown sugar, and the vanilla until the mixture is combined well.
2. In an electric mixture fitted with a paddle attachment, stir together the flour, the baking powder, and the baking soda. Blend in the butter on low speed until the largest pieces of butter are the size of peas (you should still be able to see pieces of butter). Stir in the cherries and the buttermilk mixture until the mixture just forms a sticky but manageable dough. Add additional buttermilk if mixture is too dry.
3. Knead the dough gently for 30 seconds on a lightly floured surface, pat it into a 3/4-inch-thick round, and cut it into 8 wedges. On an ungreased baking sheet brush the wedges with the remaining 1/4 cup buttermilk and sprinkle them with the granulated sugar. Bake the scones in the middle of a preheated 400°F oven for 15 to 18 minutes, or until they are golden.
Adapted from David Lebovitz
I love this recipe because compared to other lemon curd recipes I found, it's very low tech. Most called for double boilers and candy thermometers and all sorts of crazy gadgets, but David Lebovitz really strips down the technique and makes it an accessible recipe for everyone, especially those that don't want to wash a thousand dishes after this process. The only change I added was to include the zest of the Meyer lemons. Some of the zest gets strained out in the last step, but all those glorious essential oils cook into the curd.
2-3 Meyer lemons
1/3 cup of sugar
2 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
1. Finely zest lemons until you have two teaspoons of lemon zest. Juice lemons so that you have 1/2 a cup of lemon juice. Place a mesh strainer over a bowl and set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, whisk together lemon juice, lemon zest, egg yolks, eggs, sugar, and salt.
3. Set pan over low heat and add the cubed butter. Whisk constantly until the butter is melted and well combined.
4. Increase the heat and cook over medium, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and begins to look like jelly (David Lebovitz explains that you know it's done when you lift the whisk and the mixture holds its shape before falling back into the pan from the whisk. I found it took about 10 minutes).
5. Press the curd through the strainer. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until curd is cooled completely. Enjoy spread on scones, biscuits, or toast.