Scones and I have a lukewarm relationship. When they are warm, flaky, buttery, tender inside and with a bit of crunch outside they are a perfect food to wake up to. But often they can be hard as hockey pucks, with a similar taste. In the States scones come in an assortment of flavors – chocolate chip, raspberry, blueberry, lemon poppy seed – whereas in the UK it’s pretty much plain or sultana (raisin). And I think I’ve figured out why. It’s because of clotted cream. A plain scone on its own is just that – plain. But slather it with clotted cream and fresh strawberry jam and you have an entirely different product.
Living in London, I’ve come to love plain scones. But I still mix it up a bit with flavored scones – particularly on weekend mornings when I’m craving a sweet, baked good – and these Maple Pecan scones are my absolute favorite.
I worked on this recipe when I interned at America’s Test Kitchen in Boston about 3 years ago. I loved how simple it was. They’ll be baking away in 15 minutes, quicker than it takes to heat your oven. And the flavor, especially that maple glaze, is divine. Scones are best eaten straight out of the oven (ok, let them cool about 5 minutes, if you can resist) and these are no exception.
For the pecans, and any nut for that matter, the best way to toast them is on the small sauce pan over medium-high heat. Keep a close eye on it as it can go from lightly browned to burned very quickly.
So if any of you out there have a lukewarm relationship with scones, give these a go and I’m sure you’ll have a warm (and don’t forget tender and flaky) relationship in no time.
Maple Pecan Scones (makes 8 scones)
Note: If you are counting calories and scared off by the heavy (double) cream you can substitute milk (whole, preferably), though you won’t have such of a rich, flaky texture and the dough will be much stickier.
2 cups (280 grams) plain, all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons (70 grams) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
1 cup (250 ml) heavy/double cream
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup (50 grams) toasted, chopped pecans
6 tablespoons powdered/icing sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Preheat oven to 450º F (225º C). Line a baking sheet with parchment (baking) paper.
Pulse flour, baking powder, and salt together in a food processor to combine, about 3 pulses. Scatter butter evenly over top and continue to pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal or a breadcrumb mixture, about 12 more pulses (there still may be a few pieces of butter visible, that’s ok).
In a small bowl, combine the cream and 4 tablespoons maple syrup. Transfer the flour mixture to large bowl and stir in pecans followed by the cream/syrup mixture. Stir until dough begins to form, about 30 seconds.
Turn dough and any floury bits onto a floured counter and knead it for a few seconds until it forms a rough, slightly sticky ball. Press dough into a 9″/22 cm-diameter circle and cut into 8 wedges. Place wedges on prepared baking sheet. Bake until scone tops are lightly golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking.
Make the glaze by whisking the powdered (icing) sugar and 2 tablespoons maple syrup together in a small bowl until smooth. Drizzle glaze over slightly cooled scones and serve right away, when scones are still a bit warm.
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook