It's been quit a while since I've made scones. In the meantime Sweetie has eaten scones at bakeries and restaurants and made much of them. They were fine but truly not as good as the ones I make. One thing that was usually true of those other scones was that they were heavy, dense and/or cake like. My ideal scone is more like a biscuit in texture but lighter while still being rich due to the use of both heavy cream and butter.
Thanks to the generosity of some friends this past week I was the recipient of a couple stalks of fresh gorgeous rhubarb. Rhubarb is one of the harbingers of spring and it's fresh tangy flavor is a tonic to the winter weary spirits, just like Meyer lemon. Usually I make a strawberry-rhubarb pie when I have rhubarb but this time I decided to find out how well rhubarb goes with cream scones by adding chopped rhubarb and pecans to the basic recipe.
One of the tricks to making light, moist and delicious scones is to barely handle the dough once the liquid ingredients have been added to the dry mixture. I used a fork to mix and had the dough about 3/4 combined when I sprinkled on the rhubarb and nuts. That way they were folded in during the last few strokes of mixing. Once the dough was turned out onto the floured board, I barely kneaded it...just enough to work in the last crumbly bits. To shape it I was again careful to use a light touch and the least amount of handling possible.
The result was a nice tray of light and delicate scones that almost melted in your mouth. The rhubarb's sharpness was the perfect contrast to the sweet richness of the dough. Because the scones already had butter and heavy cream in them, no additional butter or clotted cream was necessary. If I'd had some lemon curd I might have added a smidgen but they didn't really need anything extra to be the perfect companion to a nice hot cup of afternoon tea. Cheers!
Rhubarb Oat Cream Scones
1 large egg
2/3 cup cold heavy cream
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1/2 cup oat flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
1/3 cup chopped fresh rhubarb
1/4 cup chopped pecans
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.
Stir the egg and cream together. Set aside.
Whisk the flour, cake flour, oat flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. Drop in the butter and, using your fingers, toss to coat the pieces of butter with flour. Quickly, working with your fingertips or a pastry blender, cut and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is from pea-size pieces to pieces the size of oatmeal flakes.
Pour the egg and cream over the dry ingredients and stir with a fork just until the dough, which will be wet and sticky, comes together. Gently fold in the rhubarb and pecans. Don't overdo it. Still in the bowl, gently knead the dough by hand a few turns (or knead briefly when you turn it out on the floured board).
Lightly dust a work surface with flour and turn out the dough. Divide it in half. Working with one piece at a time, pat the dough into a rough circle that's about 5 inches in diameter, cut it into 6 wedges and place it on the baking sheet. (at this point, the scones can be frozen on the baking sheet, then wrapped airtight. Don't defrost before baking - just add about 2 minutes to the baking time.)
Bake the scones for 20 -22 minutes, or until their tops are golden. Tops may also be slightly cracked...that's OK.
Transfer them to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before serving, or wait for them to cool to room temperature.