Monday, March 19, 2012

Lavender and Toasted Walnut Scones

Let's talk scones.  When made right, they're light, flaky and buttery.  They're little pillows of heaven.  Little pillows that are great as Monday breakfasts to kick off the week, Friday afternoon snacks with tea, and Sunday late night sustenance in the library. I'm pretty sure that 38% of my freshman year was spent eating the warm cinnamon scones in my school library's cafe.

So you're making your own scones.  Don't stress.  You've got this.  Keep the butter cold and work quickly when you cut it in.  Don't over-mix.  You can even pop the whole tray of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes right before you bake them. The tips are endless!

One of the best places to find scone recipes? Joy the Baker's lovely cooking site.  I have a HUGE blog-crush on her.  Is it okay to profess internet love?  At the very least, I'm marrying her lavender and toasted walnut scones.

I was a little skeptical about using lavender buds in scones.  Isn't that stuff used in soap... and potpourri?  But they turned out beautifully.  The lavender gives the scones a delicate, soft undertone of fragrance, and the honey glaze on top keeps them sweet. Read on for the recipe...

Lavender and Toasted Walnut Scones
From Joy the Baker

Joy says this recipe makes 8 (enormous) biscuits. I made biscuits a bit bigger than my palm and ended up with 16.

1 tablespoon dried lavender
1/2 cup walnut pieces
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
1 large egg
3/4 cup buttermilk, cold
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon milk
Place rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (one for toasting nuts and the other for baking scones).  Set aside.
Using a spice grinder, a mortar and pestle, or a clean cutting board and the back of a knife, grind or press the dried lavender.  We just want to break it up into slightly smaller pieces and bring out the essential oil and the fragrance.
Place walnut pieces on a baking sheet and place in the oven.  Toast for about 5 minutes, until slightly browned and fragrant.  Remove from the oven.  Cool completely.  Chop coarsely and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add lavender.  Add cold butter and, using your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture.  Work quickly to incorporate the butter into the flour.  The butter bits will be the size of small pebbles and oat flakes.
Whisk together egg and buttermilk.
Toss the walnut into the dry ingredient mixture, and create a small well in the center of the flour and butter mixture.  Pour in the buttermilk, all at once, and use a fork to incorporate the ingredients.  Make sure that all of the flour bits are moistened by the egg and buttermilk.
Dump the shaggy dough onto a lightly floured work surface.  Bring together, kneading lightly, until the dough forms a 1-inch thick rectangle.  Use a knife to cut the dough into 8 equal pieces.  Place on the baking sheet.
Brush biscuit tops with buttermilk and bake for 12 to 15 minutes.  *Joy says to wait until the tops get toasty.  I think the best way to tell when scones are done is when the edges around the bottom start to get slightly browned. Sometimes when you wait until the tops turn color, it's already a little too late!  I like my scones soft over here.*   Let cool until almost entirely cool before topping with glaze.
To make the glaze, whisk together powdered sugar, honey, and milk.  Whisk until smooth.  Drizzle scones with glaze and sprinkle with a bit more lavender.
Scones are best served the day they’re made, thought they’re still delicious the second day.  

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