Sometimes, my friends come to me with questions about what they should make when entertaining. Or maybe they aren't actually asking me but telling me their plans, and I just butt it with suggestions? In any case, it's usually eye opening for me in that what I consider to be minimal work actually seems pretty tedious or stress-inducing for others.
A couple of years ago, I had just that type of conversation with my friend Ginny about whether she should make scones for her birthday party. She deemed them too stressful, because, in her words, "anything you want to be flaky requires more attention." This is true, to achieve peak flakiness in baked goods you usually need to pay some attention to the process. But, in honor of her birthday today, I'm counter-arguing two years later that we can find ways around that, to accomplish the ideal baked good that Ginny described to me as "low-effort, high impact".
Enter cream scones!
Also two years ago (lots of 2016 flashbacks today!), I posted a recipe here for a pretty fantastic version of everyone's favorite cheddar garlic biscuits using cream instead of butter. They came out so well, so flaky and, well, buttery, without the need to pay any attention to any butter at all, that I figured, why not do the same with scones? And, as always, the entire world got there first, but in this case so long ago that cream scones are considered a pretty traditional English baked good.
The basic idea still applies, though. Instead of butter, we use cream, which is basically liquid butter, to fully coat the flour and sugar and incorporate into a dough that bakes up flaky, rich, and delicious, with zero effort expended to measure the size of butter pieces or check whether they are evenly dispersed in the dough. It all just happens with a simple stir of the batter.
And, since we've spent zero energy focused on our layers, we can spend some time on our flavors! I divided the batter into two halves and mixed into one batch some savory flavorings, and more traditional sweet flavorings into the second. You can go with whatever you want!
Pick Your Flavor Easy Cream Scones
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
For the scone base:
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tbs baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/3-1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, plus more, for brushing
Lemon Blueberry Scone mix-ins:
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/4 cup frozen wild blueberries
Pepper Gruyere Scone Mix-Ins
- 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup gruyere, diced into small cubes
- Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Add the cream, just enough to form a dough (it shouldn't be very sticky, but I needed all of the cream).
- Divide dough and transfer half to a separate small bowl. Add in black pepper and gruyere to dough in mixing bowl and stir to combine (you may need to knead in the cheese pieces my hand). Transfer to the parchment-lined baking sheet and pat into a 3/4 inch thick circle, cut into 6 wedges.
- Wipe out the mixing bowl and the paddle attachment and add the remaining dough and the blueberries. Rub the zest and sugar together and add to the dough. Stir to combine and transfer to the parchment lined baking sheet and proceed as in step 3.
- Arrange all wedges evenly across the baking sheet and brush with cream. Place the sheet in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm up the cream (so it flakes!). Bake 15-20 minutes until well-risen and browned and cooked through. Serve warm.