It Ain’t Muffin, Honey
Story and photos by Brandon Matzek
On lazy Sunday mornings, when the sun is just starting to creep up, I love to sit in my kitchen with a hot cup of coffee and a plate of freshly baked scones. A searing sip of dark brew accompanies each buttery, crumbly bite.
Made with bright orange zest and freshly ground cardamom, these scones are packed with flavor. The key to a perfect scone is the butter. Ice-cold butter is grated into the dough, allowing for even distribution. Once the dough comes together, you should see little flecks of butter throughout. When the scones cook, the butter melts and steams up. The steam creates tiny pockets of air, providing a light and flaky texture.
Orange Cardamom Scones
For the scones:
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cardamom*
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
3/4 pound cold unsalted butter (preferably frozen solid)
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water (for the egg wash)
For the glaze:
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice
Prepare dry ingredients. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat and set aside. Combine flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, kosher salt, ground cardamom and orange zest in a large bowl, whisking to combine and aerate. Using the large holes on a box grater, grate butter one stick at a time into the dry ingredients. Stir frequently to incorporate the butter shavings into the dry mixture.
Add wet ingredients. Whisk together eggs and heavy cream, and then slowly pour into the bowl with the butter-flour mixture. Stir as you’re pouring, using a sturdy wooden spoon. Stir until blended. The dough will be sticky.
Form scones. Turn dough out on to a well-floured surface and knead it into a ball. Before kneading, lightly dust the top of the dough (and your hands) with flour to keep the dough from sticking. Flour a rolling pin and roll the dough to a 3/4-inch thickness. While rolling, turn the dough occasionally to keep it from sticking. Dip a 3-inch cookie cutter into flour and cut out circles of dough. Place scones on the prepared baking sheet (8-9 at a time). Reroll any scraps and cut as many circles as possible.
Bake and Glaze. Brush the top of each scone with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake each batch of scones for 20-22 minutes, until the scones are golden on top. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before glazing. While the scones are cooling, prepare the glaze. Combine confectioners’ sugar, cardamom and orange juice in a medium bowl, whisking until smooth. Drizzle over scones.
*Freshly ground cardamom has the best flavor. Place green cardamom pods into a mortar and pestle, and pound until the pods crack open and release the seeds within. Pick out pod shells, and then finely grind seeds. If you don’t want to go through the trouble, you can use pre-ground cardamom.
Save some scones for later - they freeze very well. Simply place unbaked ones on a parchment-lined baking sheet and set in the freezer. Once they’re rock-hard, transfer them to a freezer bag. When you’re ready for another round, take a few scones from the freezer and bake according to the instructions above. (Add a few minutes to the baking time for frozen dough as compared to fresh.)
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