And then there is the reality. Either Jason comes home after 7pm, or I teach at night, and even if both of us are home and willing to do an early dinner, we run into don't-mess-with-Sammy time. After 5pm, she gets tired and a little restless. She is a very easy going baby, but if she is hungry, she has to be fed NOW. By the time we get the adult dinner ready and set the table, the poor kid is screaming bloody murder. Somehow the parenting books forgot to mention that part. After one disastrous attempt at the "family dinner," we are going back to Mommy-and-Daddy dinner that happens after Sammy is asleep.
But family breakfasts are a totally different story. In the morning, Sammy is the happiest baby on the block, and she can wait very patiently while we are showering and getting food on the table. I am not normally a breakfast person, and I am definitely not a morning person. But since breakfast is now our special family meal, I wanted to lift it out of the monotony of yogurt and granola. I also thought it's a good opportunity to continue learning about baking. There was only one problem. I wanted freshly baked goods without freshly baked effort. In other words, work the day before is fine, but the morning of, I just want to pop something in the oven and take it out. I also wanted fabulous results. The smell of freshly baked something really doesn't do it for me if that something isn't perfectly delicious. That's why I went straight to Rose Levy Beranbaum's "The Bread Bible." This book is not for the faint of heart. It's for seriously anal people who want seriously awesome results.
Once I decided that I didn't have more than an hour to spend on this breakfast extravaganza, I settled on flaky currant scones. The recipe looked relatively easy, but still way more work than I was willing to do on a weekday morning. Was there any way to make it in advance and still end up with piping hot scones in the morning? These scones called for baking soda and baking powder, which made delayed baking risky. What if the scones fail to rise and I end up with tough little hockey pocks? To mitigate the risk of a complete disaster the following morning, I baked one batch at night right after mixing the dough, and one batch the next morning after an overnight rest in the fridge. The results? Both came out great and Jason couldn't tell the difference in a blind taste test. I also tried freezing the baked scones and then reheating them in the oven according to Berenbaum's instructions. That too proved to be successful.
Sammy is too little to eat scones, but she was clapping her hands so enthusiastically, I figured she approved. Tender and buttery scones, strong black tea, and a smiling baby -- what else does one need for perfect happiness!
Flaky Currant Scones
Adopted from Rose Levy Beranbaum's book "The Bread Bible"
Makes 12 to 16 triangular scones 4 inches on the side and 1.5 inches high
About measurements: I am listing the measurements in grams, ounces, and cups. Pick whichever one you like. The reason there is no cup measurement for flour is because it's a bad way to measure it.
Flour: Rose suggests using Hecker's flour because it has a protein level higher than Gold Medal, but lower than King Arthur. I only had King Arthur, and the scones came out perfectly fine. On my second try, I used 3 parts King Arthur AP flour and 1 part Pillsbury Cake flour and the scones came out even more tender and delicious. But don't sweat this flour issue.
What if butter gets too soft: If at any point in the dough making process, the butter gets too soft, pop the dough in the fridge to cool for 15-30 minutes before continuing.
unsalted butter, cold (227 grams / 8 oz / 2 sticks)
unbleached all-purpose flour, preferably Hecker's (608 grams / 21.25 oz)
granulated sugar (100 grams / 3.5 oz / 0.5 cup)
baking powder (9.6 grams / 2 tsp)
baking soda (2.5 grams / 0.5 tsp)
salt (1.7 grams / 0.25 tsp table salt or 0.5 tsp Diamond Crystal Kosher salt)
heavy cream (464 grams / 16.3 oz / 2 liquid cups)
currants (131 grams / 4.5 oz / 1 cup)
2 half sheet pans lined with parchment paper
Baking stone or baking sheet
Instant read thermometer
- Cut the butter into 1 inch cubes. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes or in the freezer for 10.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to distribute evenly. Add the butter and rub it with your finger tips to press the cubes into large flakes. Stop when butter is still very chunky (the size of cherries, but somewhat squashed).
- Add the cream and stir the dough with your hand just until the flour is moistened. Add the currants and knead the dough in the bowl just until it holds together. It's better to under-mix than over-mix. If some clumps just don't want to join the big happy ball, don't worry -- you can add them later when shaping the dough. If you over-mix, you'll get tough hockey pock scones.
- Place the stone or baking sheet on the middle rack in the oven and preheat it to 400F for 30 minutes before baking.
- Turn the dough out on a lightly floured work surface. Lightly flour the top of the dough. Roll it out into a long rectangle 1 inch thick, 8 inches wide, and 12 inches long. Smoosh in the sides with a pastry scraper to end up with an even rectangle.
- Folding and rolling procedure that will give your scones their flakiness (to be done 4 times):
- Fold the dough in thirds like a letter (use your pastry scraper to help you fold).
- You'll end up with a small rectangle. Roll it back out into a large 8"x12" rectangle.
- Rotate the dough 90 degrees and repeat the folding and rolling 3 more time, sprinkling the dough, rolling pin, and work surface with flour as necessary to prevent it from sticking.