I must confess I have never been a big fan of scones. Given the choice I'd much rather have a banana-nut muffin or a chocolate croissant. But recently, I discovered that my favorite specialty food store in Brooklyn, Sahadi's, carries clotted cream. And nothing is a better vehicle for thick, buttery schmears of clotted cream than tender, crumbly scones.
While scones certainly aren't difficult to make from scratch, I was intrigued by the different versions of King Arthur mix available at my supermarket: cherry-almond, cranberry-orange, maple-oat, blueberry, and cream tea. (A quick online investigation revealed that the King Arthur website had even more enticing options, including peaches & cream, whole grain gingerbread, and even pina colada.) All are $6.95.
At first I wanted to make the cream tea scones, but I decided against it when I realized I would have to add 1 cup of heavy cream. It just seemed like a little much—a cream scone topped with clotted cream? I wasn't sure if my arteries were up to the challenge.
To make the blueberry scones, all I needed to add to the mix was a pinch of salt, a stick of cold butter, an egg, and 1/2 cup milk. It sounded easy enough. I dumped the mix in a bowl, added the salt, and set about dicing the butter. The instructions recommending mixing the chunks in with a fork or an electric mixer. First, I tried the fork method, but it was tedious and tiring—two things a boxed mix should never be. Next, I tried the electric mixer, which resulted in clouds of scone mix billowing around my kitchen and settling in a fine, buttery film all over the floor. In the end, the best method proved to be the most basic: Working quickly, I used my fingers to blend the butter in the mix until it was the consistency of wet sand.
After beating the egg with the milk, I stirred everything together and then gathered the dough into a ball. A very wet, very gluey, ball. The instructions said to pat the dough into an 8- or 9-inch disk and then cut it into 8 wedges, but this proved extremely difficult. Trying to make clean cuts through the dough with a knife was like trying to cut through melted cheese—it kept sticking and pulling.
Finally, I managed to separate my scone dough into eight shaggy triangles. I slid the baking sheet into the oven. After the recommended 16 minutes they smelled delicious but still looked pretty raw. I ended up baking them for an extra five minutes to ensure that they were golden brown and cooked all the way through.
After letting my scones cool (but just barely!) I broke one open and slathered it with clotted cream. The texture was crumbly and light, with just a hint of crunch at the corners. The flavor of the scone was nearly perfect—buttery and a touch sweet—but I couldn't really taste the blueberries at all. They were much too small, dry, and few and far between. Overall, I would conclude that this mix is good and solid, if not great. It would make a nice addition to a gift basket filled with assorted jams and tea. But if you're looking for a knock-your-socks-off breakfast indulgence, you're better off sticking with your favorite homemade recipe.
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