14 March 2011

Bilbo Baggins Buttered Scones

"A big jug of coffee had just been set in the hearth, the seed cakes were gone, and the dwarves were starting on a round of buttered scones, when there came a loud knock.  Not a ring, but a hard rat-tat on the hobbit's beautiful green door."

excerpt from The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

I don't know how anyone could read The Hobbit and not get hungry, it is chock full of delicious sounding snacks and meals.

If you haven't read it yet (No way, really?) be sure to pick up a copy before the movie comes out (I'm so excited about the movie I might put up a countdown).

My version of scones are a bit different than what I think the hobbits and dwarves ate, but I'm pretty sure they would have scarfed them down all the same.

Bilbo's Buttered Scones

2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons butter
1 cup buttermilk or sour cream
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
dried cranberries and dried blueberries, about 1/2 cup, totally optional, they are tasty without

1.  Mix all the dry ingredients; flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and the lemon zest.   If you want to save the baking for another day or give this as a gift this would be a good point to stop and store the mix.  Otherwise, go to the next step.

2. Using a pastry blender (or two forks) mash the cold butter into the dry ingredients, this will take a while but eventually you will have a mixture that is crumbly and clumpy.
3.  Now add the buttermilk, vanilla and the dried fruit (if you're using it).  Mix it until a sticky dough forms.  Dump it out onto a floured surface and squish it around a bit (yep, I did say squish).  Not too much, the more you handle the dough, the more the butter melts into the dry ingredients and your scones will end up tough and chewy.

4.  Now I usually plop the whole ugly mess into a smallish bowl in the fridge, but if your in a hurry, go ahead and roll it out.  Roll it to about 3/4 inch thick and then cut it into whatever shapes you like.

5.  You can bake them now but they'll turn out better if you refrigerate the cut scones for a few hours.  I toss mine in the freezer so I can bake just a few at a time when I'm feeling scone'ish.

Here's what mine look like after a night in the freezer

I put them in a freezer bag with the baking directions written on the bag.  I feel very virtuous when I do this, like a poor man's Ask Heloise . 

You want to reach out and pluck the cranberry off the top and eat it, don't you?
6.  Now for baking.  If your oven's not preheated, then turn it to 375, wait a few then plop the scones on a silpat or parchment and bake them for 10 minutes or until the bottoms have turned oh so slightly golden.

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