I always keep a backup supply of butter in my freezer — for baking emergencies, and in case the craving for freshly made scones hits. And this morning, it did. So, I whipped up a recipe from the delightful Dawn Perry that I’ve had my eye on, with a few personal tweaks.
The biggest change was that instead of using frozen fruit as she suggests, I used a black-streaked banana on the counter. There was only one, not enough for banana bread, but just right for eight scones.
To make them, heat your oven to 400 degrees. Ms. Perry calls for putting 2 cups/255 grams all-purpose flour in a big bowl. But to give the scones some depth and earthiness, I substituted ¼ cup/30 grams buckwheat flour for an equal amount of all-purpose. Whole-wheat flour would also work, and if you’re going that route, you could swap in even more (though I wouldn’t want any more buckwheat flour, it’s pretty intense).
Then add 1 tablespoon baking powder, ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt, ¼ cup/50 grams granulated sugar, and 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar. Or use all brown sugar or all granulated. This amount of sugar gives you a nicely sweet scone with a crisp crust, but you can also use less sugar.
Whisk it all up. Then, using the large holes on a grater, shred in 1 stick (1/2 cup/115 grams) frozen or very cold butter. Using frozen butter gives you slightly lighter scones, especially if your kitchen is warm, but there’s not a huge difference if you don’t keep butter stockpiles in the freezer.
Toss it with your hands so the butter distributes evenly, squeezing and pinching if it blobs together. Then add a diced ripe banana — or about a cup of any other fruit you like, fresh or frozen. Finally, mix in a teaspoon or so of vanilla extract and ¾ cup/180 milliliters dairy product — the richer, the better. Ms. Perry uses ½ cup/120 milliliters sour cream thinned down with ¼ cup/160 milliliters whole milk. I used Greek yogurt thinned down with heavy cream. Use what you’ve got, nondairy also works fine here.
The dough will be very sticky and clumpy, but don’t add flour if you can avoid it. The wetter the dough, the more tender the scones. Dump this almost unmanageable mess out on a floured countertop and squish it together with your very sticky hands, patting it into a 1-inch-thick round if you want wedge-shaped scones, or a rectangle if you want square scones. Then cut out eight pieces. If you have a metal bench knife, this is a good place to use it because you can measure the thickness (there’s usually a ruler on the edge). Cut with it, and use it like a spatula to move the scones to a parchment paper-lined or greased baking sheet.
Brush the scones with a beaten egg to make them glossy brown. (I threw the rest of the egg in my daughter’s smoothie.) Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden-topped and just firm to the touch.
Then eat warm. I slathered mine with salted butter. But even I have to admit it might have been overkill … or then again, maybe it was just right.
This is part of a series in which Melissa Clark teaches you how to cook with pantry staples. See more.