These are lazy Saturday morning scones.
I have made this recipe at least twenty times or so over the past few years. They are one of my favorite ways to combine butter, sugar, and flour, probably thanks to the heavy cream and the pretty pearl sugar–little opaque sugar crystals that remind me of snowflakes, if snow could taste sweet. (You can find pearl sugar at IKEA, or substitute sanding sugar. But it won’t be as pretty.)
In college, these were my go-to, procrastination-assisting baked good. Today, they were my “I have nothing to eat for breakfast or lunch and I’m still sleepy at 11 in the morning and I really just need something easy and warm that will go with my tea” baked good.
As long as you don’t overmix the dough (the usual scone instruction), these are the easiest kind of gently sweet scone to make. You could add nuts or currants, slather with raspberry jam, or, as I did for lunch, eat them plain and unabashedly, one after another, with a big mug of Earl Grey.
Pearl Sugar Cream Scones
Adapted from Epicurious.com/Gourmet
Generous 3/4 cup heavy cream, plus additional for brushing the scones
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons sugar
2 cups regular flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) butter, frozen*
Pearl sugar (at IKEA; or substitute sanding sugar, or plain white sugar)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a glass measuring cup, whisk together 3/4 cup of the cream, the egg, the vanilla, and 3 tablespoons of the sugar until combined well.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, the salt, the baking powder, and the baking soda. Grate frozen butter over flour mixture using larger holes of a cheese grater. Blend in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal–the butter should be pea-sized. Stir in the cream mixture (and any currants, nuts, etc.) with a fork until the mixture just forms a sticky but manageable dough. (You’ll likely end up using your hands to make it all stick together, so gently knead it; the fork only goes so far.)
Transfer dough to a floured work surface, kneading it no further (unless you had no trouble getting your dough to come together, in which case, knead for 30 seconds). Pat it into a 1/2-inch-thick round, and with a 1 1/2-inch biscuit cutter cut it into rounds. (You could also use a small glass or use a sharp knife to cut into triangles.) Gather the scraps, repat the dough, and cut out more rounds.
On a parchment-covered baking sheet brush the scones with the additional cream, and sprinkle them with the pearl sugar. Bake the scones in the middle of the oven for 15 to 18 minutes, or until they are golden. Enjoy with tea!
*If you have a pastry cutter, you can use cold butter instead of frozen, skip grating, cut into half-tablespoons, and cut into the flour mixture.