I pretty much like everything on Starbucks’ menu, but lately a particular favorite has been their Petite Vanilla Bean Scones. I like that the scones are small, mildly sweet, and tender. This is a welcome change to the bland, dense scones that inhabit most coffee shop pastry cases.
In reality, most scones come out bland and dense because they’re tricky to make. I’ve tested this recipe a couple of times and it’s sure fire, it just requires a bit of attention to detail. Something that usually isn’t one of my strengths, but the creation of delicious scones is very good incentive!
The biggest detail is that the butter and cream needs to be cold. VERY COLD. You want to avoid the dough warming up at any point in the recipe. This means (a) leaving the butter and cream in the fridge until the moment you need them, (b) not working the dough too much with your hands because your hands are warm, and (c) working swiftly so that the dough doesn’t come up to room temperature. In the recipe time I say that these scones take about 15 minutes to make, but in reality you can do it even quicker.
The second detail is to make sure your oven is nice and preheated. Because the dough comes together very quickly, I preheat the oven well before I begin to assemble it. Cold dough + hot oven = awesome scones.
The third detail is to not knead the dough too much. Of course, there is a certain amount of mixing required to incorporate the cream into the dough, but it’s not actually that much. Kneading not only heats up the dough, but also develops gluten in the flour, making then scones bready and dense. So when shaping and cutting, don’t worry about getting it perfect, just get it done. They’ll look great either way.
Vanilla Bean Scones
Time: 15 minutes to make, 10 minutes to bake
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted
- 2-3 tablespoons milk
- Preheat the oven to 425.
- In the bowl of a food processor, put the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Pulse a few times to combine.
- Roughly cut the butter into small chunks and add to the flour mixture, distributing the butter fairly evenly over the top. Pulse about 12 times (each pulse should be about 1 second long). The mixture should resemble corn meal.
- Transfer the mixture into a bowl and add the heavy cream and vanilla. Mix with a wooden spoon just until the dough comes together, less than a minute.
- Dump the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough a few times to incorporate any dry bits. You want to knead it as little as possible but at the same time making sure that all the flour has been saturated with the liquid. 5 or 6 kneads should do the trick.
- Either pat out or use a rolling pin to shape the dough into a rectangle, about 1/2 an inch thick. Cut the dough lengthwise into three even strips and then crosswise into four even strips to yield 12 small squares. Cut each square in half diagonally so you have 24 cute little triangles.
- Transfer the triangles onto a baking sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes.
- When the scones come out of the oven, gently transfer them to a wire rack on top of a baking sheet.
- While the scones cool, split the vanilla bean lengthwise and gently scrape out the pasty filling, adding it to a small mixing bowl. Add the icing sugar.
- Add 2 tablespoons milk and mix with a fork or whisk until thoroughly combined. Continue to add small amounts of milk until the consistency is correct. You’re looking for a fairly thin glaze that will easily coat the scones with excess glaze running off.
- When the scones are cool, pour a small amount of glaze onto each, using a spoon or pastry brush to help coat each scone. Allow the glaze to harden and the excess to run off and collect on the baking sheet.
Note: You can make these without a food processor, simply use a pastry blender to incorporate the butter into the flour. I like the food processor because it’s very quick and therefore I can avoid the butter getting too warm.
Scone recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen.