Week 1: The Scones of Contention

So starts my new project, learning how to bake…and as my new baking cookbook was still in the mail, I turned to the internet for a recipe to kick things off.  I found this wonderful recipe on one of my favorite cooking blogs and thought, “I’ll make those! They look easy enough”.  Famous last words…

Before we get to the recipe, I should share some pertinent facts about myself and my situation.  I live in Albuquerque, NM which is considered a “high altitude” baking environment…this doesn’t mean much to me though, because I have NEVER baked at any other altitude that I have lived (e.g. sea level on the east coast, in the midwest), so I have no basis for comparison.  I have very basic kitchen equipment, that means a cheap mixer I bought off of Craigslist (red Farberware), a food processor that is on loan (pink Ninja), and an aging assortment of pots, pans, bowls, and utensils that don’t match.  I also have no past baking experience (seriously I made my first cake six months ago!), due to a combination of disinterest , fear, and growing up in a home where my mom made holiday treats that were simple and required limited baking.  Thus I begin my “currently (temporarily) unemployed and so will learn to bake project”.

The recipe is for pumpkin scones with a ginger glaze and can be found at the following address: http://www.melskitchencafe.com/2011/12/pumpkin-scones-with-ginger-glaze.html

I followed the recipe fairly faithfully with a few exceptions:

I added 3 EXTRA tablespoons of buttermilk to the dough to make it stick together

I added an extra splash of milk to the glaze in order to make it a liquid glaze

A few notes, I had a hard time cutting the butter in, and although the recipe clearly describes the desired outcome, I kept second guessing whether I had achieved “coarse crumbles”.  I added the extra buttermilk because I could not get the dough to come together, but in retrospect, I am not sure what “come together” really means.  For the glaze, I had to add the extra milk because at the recommended amounts my milk/ powdered sugar/ vanilla combination was more cement and less glaze.  I also had to bake them for 21 minutes rather than the recommended 18-20, possibly due to the altitude?  I also doubled the recipe to get 16 scones for samples and feedback. Other than these few things, they looked wonderful, smelled great, and I deemed them worthy of sending to work with my guy the next day and taking to rounds at the hospital.  Although I didn’t taste them…

Here is where things get contentious, as I solicited feedback from my guy and his coworkers I was told that they were “very, very sweet…you’ve made me diabetic”, that “the glaze is fine, but the dough is more bread-like than scones”, and that I should “think like the southern girl I am, and aim for biscuit-like consistency”.  At rounds my colleagues expressed confusion over the sweetness comment, explaining that the sweetness was “just right” and describing the scones as “very moist”. 

So what do I take from this first round of scones…I really messed up the dough, and rather than scones I actually made scone-shaped muffins.  Don’t get me wrong, they tasted great, when I finally ate one, but the texture and consistency did not resemble a scone.  Why do I think this happened?  I am guessing that the extra buttermilk   I added was the problem…I really need to figure out how to judge when dough is coming together.

In close, even if this wasn’t an entirely successful attempt at scones, I learned about cutting butter and the dangers of too much buttermilk.  On to the next one…

p.s. I got my new baking cookbook in the mail today, so in the future I will be quoting Martha Stewart and working my way through her “Baking Handbook”.


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