I fell in love with scones on our first trip to England in 1989, when we fell into the habit of stopping for afternoon tea and scones, slathered with jam and clotted cream, in a variety of tea shops. Although I've baked many variations of scones, my current favorite is Banana-Chocolate Chip Scones. My most important rule for baking scones is not to over-bake them because a dry scone isn't worth eating!
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup unbleached white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder (non-aluminum)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cold butter, cut in small chunks
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1 medium very ripe banana (between 3-4 oz., peeled)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 to 3/4 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.
Work the butter chunks into the dry ingredients until the mixture is unevenly crumbly. Toss in the chocolate chips and mix lightly until evenly distributed.
Mash the banana with the vanilla in a small bowl. Stir in 1/2 cup of buttermilk.
Add the banana mixture to the butter-flour mixture, stirring until the dough comes together into one mass, and adding more buttermilk (or milk), if needed.
Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Flour your hands and the surface of the dough.
Knead the dough very gently about 10 times, just enough to bring it together, sprinkling on more flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking.
Cut the dough in half and press each piece gently into a circle 6" to 8" in diameter on the baking sheet.
Score each circle into 6 wedge-shaped pieces with a knife or scraper. If you choose, you can brush the tops of the scones lightly with milk and sprinkle turbinado sugar on them. Let them rest on a counter for 10 minutes.
Bake the scones for 14-15 minutes, or until golden blow (I usually bake for 9-10 minutes on the middle rack and move them to a higher rack for the remaining 3-4 minutes).
Remove the scones from the oven and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature. When completely cool, store any leftovers well-wrapped, at room temperature for a day or two; freeze for longer storage.
Yield: 12 scones.
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