Despite the distractions of lingering snow and Olympic excitement (though Bob Costas could fall into a crevasse somewhere and I don’t know that I’d complain…) life does go on. Life, of course, includes having my friend Kate for tea to plan our menu for a Lunar New Year dinner. While we’ve yet to settle on a date at this point, at least the menu’s going to be hot. One cannot, of course, have someone to tea without something nice to go with it. In honor of our Asian endeavor and the newly-minted year of the tiger, I decided to make some rich and zingy ginger-vanilla scones.
Adapted from a lovely, layered recipe of Rose‘s (naturally…), swapping diced candied ginger for the called-for currants, and adding some ginger syrup and delicious, floral vanilla bean paste made for a lightly sweet, decadently rich and spicy treat to go with the beautifully delicate whole-leaf green tea Kate had brought back from a recent trip to Kathmandu. (Hooray for friends who go to exotic places!) Hooray for scones!
Adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum
Makes 14 scones
1 c unsalted butter, chilled
4 1/1 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 c heavy cream
1 tsp ginger syrup
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 c diced candied ginger
Cut butter into 1″ cubes. Freeze 10min. Line 2 half sheet pans with parchment. Place a baking stone or cookie sheet into the oven. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Combine cream, ginger syrup, vanilla bean paste and vanilla extract in a glass measure. Set aside. Add the butter to the dry ingredients, and using your fingers press the butter cubes into large flakes. Work quickly and confidently–particularly if you have warm hands–you should be compressing cold butter into thin pieces, not melting it away into the flour mixture.
Stir the cream mixture in and mix just until the flour is moistened and the dough starts to come together in large clumps. Sir in the candied ginger. Knead the dough in the bowl till it just comes together and turn out onto a floured surface.
Lightly flour the dough and roll it into an 8″ x 12″ rectangle, keeping the edges neat with a bench scraper. Fold the dough in thirds like a letter, lightly flour, and turn the dough so the folded edge is to the left. Repeat the flouring, rolling, and folding to repeat the “turn” three more times. Refrigerate the dough, covered in plastic wrap, for 15 minutes only if the dough starts to stick.
After it’s final turn, roll out the dough to an 8″ x 12″ rectangle. Trim edges with the bench scraper so they will rise evenly. (Collect and reroll the scraps, turning it twice before rolling into a square and cutting in two triangles.) Using the bench scraper, cut the dough in half lengthwise into two 4″ x 12″ pieces. Cut each piece into 6 triangles.
Divide scones between the the two prepared baking sheets, placing them about 1″ apart. If the dough is soft, freeze, covered in plastic wrap for 15 minutes. Bake 1 sheet at a time, keeping the second sheet covered in the refrigerator. Place baking sheet on the baking stone or cookie sheet and back 15-20 minutes, when tops are golden brown and edges are beginning to brown. The top will be firm, but will give just a little when pressed. Do not overbake.
Drape a clean linen kitchen towel over a cooling rack and transfer the scones to the rack. Wrap loosely with the towel and cool till warm or room temperature before serving.
Notes & Variations:
The original recipe called for currants, and did not add any vanilla at all. I’m sure they’re lovely. I also baked mine all at once on a single sheet pan. They needed a few more minutes in the oven, but seemed none the worse for wear.