Monday I had the pleasure of joining a friend of mine for a tea and bake date at her home. Mrs. R is a part of the house church I fellowship with in Kansas City. And since she also shares my love of baking and good conversation, it basically makes her a woman after my own heart. The recipe on the agenda for the day? A trusted family favorite: Blueberry Scones.
Typically assumed to be Scottish in origin, scones are identified by their buttery and flaky qualities. They are similar to American biscuits and can be classified as a “quick bread” since they do not require yeast to rise. Scones are so popular in the UK however that, according to a study released in 2005 by the market research firm, Mintel, the 500 year old pastry brings in a total of £64 million pounds a year – that’s roughly over $90 million USD! 
I confess I did absolutely nothing to contribute baking-wise during our tea and bake date at Mrs. R’s. Unless you count sitting on a barstool, sipping Earl Grey and keeping her distracted by talking about education, politics and rearing children. The recipe she used comes from “The Pie and Pastry Bible” by Rose Levy Bernabaum. And true to their reputation, these scones were perfectly firmed on the outside while flaky and soft on the inside. They delivered a buttery and mildly sweet flavor, with the dried blueberries adding a nice tang. I enjoyed them so much, in fact, that I immediately searched for the recipe on the internet after I got home. I eventually found this blog, which had the Orange-Cranberry variation of the recipe Mrs. R used.
When I decided to make these myself this weekend I felt a little intimidated by the whole rolling out and folding technique, as I am notoriously clumsy with a rolling pin. But it proved to be a simple enough task and I was able to use my cake lifter as a way to keep my edges straight. Before rolling out the dough, I separated it into halves using chocolate chips in one bowl (for the DH) and dried blueberries again in the other. I was more than pleased to find results were consistent with Mrs. R’s. I was also happy to report the chocolate chip scones passed the famed “Michael-safe” test. I think after the forth one he determined they were compatible with coffee and so worthy of our dessert rotation.
In baking, I’m extremely partial to recipes with culturally-specific tradition and history. There’s just something about preparing a pastry, bread or dessert that you know has been passed down generation after generation after generation. I especially feel this way when I know it’s a personal family recipe, like my family’s Norwegian kringla or their German egg noodles. And even though this particular scone recipe was no family secret, I still found myself imagining that in some way I was helping to preserve a small piece of Scottish tradition. (I say imagine, because to my knowledge I have no known Scottish ancestors – but I do love Braveheart & bagpipes!)
I’m looking forward to trying these scones with the original dried cranberry and orange zest ingredients (referenced in the blog link above). I’d also like to look into how well these freeze because I think they’d make a perfect dessert for the meals I take to Veronica’s Voice.
What is one of your favorite desserts to make and why? Do you ever try a different recipe for that dessert, or do you stick to the same one every time?
1. Macphie Launches New Ultra Scone | Macphie. High Quality Bakery and Food Ingredients Suppliers and Manufacturers, UK. | Macphie. Macphie, 13 June 2005. Web. 15 May 2011.