When my sister hosted a play date for a few of our close friends and our little buggers, I knew it would be a good opportunity to do some baking. The only question was, should I make something for the adults or the kids? Since my nephew has a peanut and dairy allergy, my sister adamantly stated, "Make something for us, the moms." The possibilities were endless...cake? cupcakes? cookies? a tart? Then I remembered my sister and her best friend from college and their affinity for scones.
What made me remember? Well, there's a picture from my sister's freshman year in college that's sort of burned into my memory. My sister is two years older than me, so when she returned home from her first year in college, I remember eagerly looking through an album she made documenting her first year at school. One of the pictures shocked me (and no, the picture had nothing to do with illegal substances or nudity). I remember nearly falling off of my chair when I saw it. It was my sister Nadia and her best friend, Lena, sitting at a fondue restaurant. They were both wearing these God-awful ribbed, knit turtleneck sweaters (this was the late 90's people) that fit a bit too snugly against their plump bodies. Look, anybody who knows Nadia and Lena, would NEVER describe them as plump. My sister has always been skinny with an athletic build. Always. But in this picture, she looked like an overstuffed sausage with her rounded head popping out of the neck of her too-tight sweater. I didn't giggle when I saw the picture. I was too shocked to speak. Instead I asked her what the heck happened. She shrugged her shoulders and mumbled something about the freshman fifteen. Aaaaah, the freshman fifteen: Gaining weight during the first year of college. I knew it happened, but I guess it could even happen to my "I never gain a pound no matter how much I eat" older sister. She must have gained more than fifteen pounds her freshman year because I swear, she wasn't ever that fat when she was pregnant with each of her three children.
Shifting my eyes from the picture in my lap to her face, she didn't seem as chubby sitting in front of me. Without even asking she simply said "Scones." So she was blaming scones for her freshman fifteen? How the heck many scones was she wolfing down at college? Apparently a lot. A ton. Way more than normal. Way more. I guess it was the product of a misunderstanding. Somehow Nadia and Lena convinced themselves that scones were not that fattening (!). I guess their logic went something like this: Scones are dry, thus they must not be made with that much fat. So, instead of choosing fattening muffins, let's choose the healthier, lower fat scone instead.
Apparently every time they grabbed a cup of coffee from Norris (the student union) or Starbucks, they opted for a scone rather than a muffin because they thought they were making a healthier, lower-fat choice. Aye, aye, aye. When Nadia explained her scone theory to me, all I could do was slap my hand against my forehead while shaking my head in disbelief. Scones my be a drier texture than muffins, but that does not translate to being made with less fat. Sorry ladies, but scones often have more butter than muffins and thus more fat! I don't think Nadia has ever looked at a scone the same way since her freshman year in college. I'm just glad that her scone freshman fifteen memory hasn't put her off of scones permanently. When I entered her kitchen with a plate of blueberry and chocolate chip scones, I swear I heard her say that she loved me.
These recipes are adapted from a dozen or so scone recipes, plus a few of my own little adjustments here and there:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons of sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 pint of blueberries
3/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
For the Glaze:
1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon extract
2 tablespoons water
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F
Sift all the dry ingredients (including sugar) in a medium bowl
Mix in the lemon zest
Cut the butter into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter, fork, knives, or your clean, cold fingers (my preference!) until the mixture resembles coarse meal with larger chunks of butter.
Mix in the blueberries
Make a well in the center of the bowl and pour in the milk. Blend all the ingredients together quickly with a rubber spatula.
Turn wet dough out onto a well floured work surface
Pat or roll dough out into a 9 to 12 inch circle.
Cut into 6 or 8 pieces (see photo)
Place on greased baking sheets
Bake for 15 min or until scones are slightly brown on top
While scones cool, mix the ingredients for the lemon glaze
Pour glaze over cooled scones.
Chocolate Chip Scones:
Same ingredients and methods as the blueberry scones with the following changes:
Substitute the blueberries for 1/2 cup chocolate chips
Increase sugar to 1/4 cup
Omit the lemon zest
Omit the glaze