Happy New Year to you all. In the spirit of resolution making, yesterday I resolved to do two things: Delete my Facebook account and make Vanilla Bean Scones. Odd combination, perhaps, but it just worked out that way. Instead of setting some unreachable, obscure resolution, I went with two pretty much instantly gratifying goals. It worked.
Facebook, for me, was like some weird, grown-up (sort of) popularity contest. Having never been a super popular person, nor cared about being popular, I always had this nagging inner turmoil regarding my Facebook usage. Why do I care how many “likes” I get? Why do I not really know half the people I am “friends” with? I do not want to read personal, often graphic health details; I do not want to read religious or political rants. I found myself posting less and less, and I didn’t want to be one of those weird creepers who has a Facebook account but pretends like they don’t—a little too much like voyeurism for my liking. As much as I really did enjoy certain people’s pictures, posts, and comments, it was such a time suck—sucking time away from what I really want to do: write, cook, read, decide what I want to do with my life!
Anyway, my answer was twofold. Rid my life of Facebook and bake something to get my creative writing juices flowing again. Kitchen therapy fixes almost everything, and what it doesn’t fix it at least soothes for a while, and I needed some soothing. So, I made scones.
I made a version of these scones about a year or so ago after watching Ree Drummond AKA The Pioneer Woman make them on her show. I am wild about vanilla, especially when vanilla beans are involved. When I saw her make these, I knew I had to try them.
They were good—very tasty—but they needed some fiddling. So, I fiddled and came up with this recipe. Much, much better. Still soft and buttery, but not so crumbly they fall apart in the glaze.
And, how appropriate to make scones on Downton Abbey premier day! How very British of me.
Here’s the delicious recipe with step-by-step pictures:
Vanilla Bean Scones with a Vanilla Bean Glaze
Makes 24 scones
2 whole vanilla beans
1 cup heavy cream
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 and ½ tablespoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, diced and very cold
1 whole vanilla bean
1/2 to ¾ cup milk, start with ½ but you may need the full ¾ cup
5 cups powdered sugar
For the scones:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Split the vanilla beans in half lengthwise and scrape out all the vanilla seeds inside.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, and vanilla seeds. With a pastry cutter, two butter knives, or your fingers, cut the cold butter into the flour mixture. Keep going until the mixture resembles crumbs.
Mix the cream with the egg in a large, spouted measuring cup. Pour the cream in slowly while gently stirring the dry ingredients with a fork just until it comes together.
Turn the dough onto a floured surface and lightly press it together until it forms a rough rectangle. Cut dough in half and stack one half on top of the other, press back into a rough rectangle. Repeat this process one more time. The stacking process creates perfect, flaky layers. I do this same trick when I make biscuits.
Use your hands or a rolling pin to roll into a rectangle about 12-by-7 inches and 1/2-to-3/4-inches thick. Then cut the rectangle into 12 squares/rectangles.
Next, cut each square/rectangle in half diagonally, to form two triangles. Transfer to a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 17 minutes. The bottoms will just be getting golden, but the tops should still be quite pale.
Allow to cool completely before glazing.For the glaze:
Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.Mix the powdered sugar, vanilla seeds, and milk in a large bowl, adding more powdered sugar or milk if necessary to get the right consistency. Stir or whisk until completely smooth and pourable.
One at a time, carefully dunk each cooled scone in the glaze, turning it over to coat completely. (Your hands are the best tools for this. It’s messy, but so much easier than anything else I’ve tried. So wash your hands and roll up your sleeves.)
Once dunked, transfer to parchment paper. I do this in two steps, because as they sit the glaze will pool up a little. So after about 20 minutes, I carefully transfer the glazed scones to a fresh sheet of parchment so I don’t end up with a thick bottom layer of glaze when they set completely.
Alternatively, you can just dip the tops, or you can use a spoon to zig-zag the glaze over the tops. I go for the total submersion method.
Enjoy! The vanilla beans really do make these so special. I hope you love them.
PS: My daughter wanted to help me type; this is her contribution. She typed it all by her little self: “Ava and mommy made scones we had fun.” It’s the truth.