Butter Scones and Framboise Pépins
If I have to pick a confection which I love to eat and eat a lot, it has to be scones. In fact. there was a point in time a couple of years ago when scones become much of a personal fanaticism when I snacked on them at every opportuned moment. Much to my disgruntlement, they are not the easiest pastry to find here in Singapore, barring sophisticated English High-Tea sets at 5-star hotel cafes. The latter usually mean a hefty price tag which isn’t exactly appealing for me. The Connoisseur Concerto (previously The Coffee Connoisseur) serve them as part of their afternoon tea sets but the quality seemed inconsistent. A local bakery chain, Four Leaves produce fairly decent-tasting ones, and its here that I get my supplies. Still, me aint entirely satisfied, which leaves my stomach still lingering…
A couple of months ago, I chanced upon Chef Gregoire Michaud’s blog and incidentally his scone recipe, which he professed to be from a well-known afternoon tea joint in London. While I have complete faith in its authenticity, I was skeptical if such delicious stuff could be so simple to make. So the recipe was bookmarked but KIVed for quite a while but never materialised. Then more recently, Chef Gregoire was featured in a video for Wall Street Journal. Watching the expert at work certainly helped. And when I finally saw the product at the end of the video, I was sold! They really looked imbued with all the desirable qualities of what I look out for in a good scone, the right degree of crumbliness, the right degree of crusty appeal on the outside and the right degree of soft and buttery textures on the inside. Sound really anal retentive I know. But while some discoveries were made through accidents or luck, many good things are really produced through sheer perserverance and being anal retentive, to the last detail.
Scottish Butter Scones Recipe by Gregoire Michaud (yields sixteen 6 cm ø scones)
- 500g flour
- 95g sugar
- 25g baking powder
- 125g butter
- 2 eggs
- 100ml whipped cream (yes I dare!!!)
- 60g sultanas
- Mix the flour, sugar and baking powder together with the butter until it resembles a crumble mixture
- Add the eggs and milk(whipped cream in my case) and the sultanas last if required and mix in quickly
- Leave the dough to rest for 10 minutes, then roll out to about 15mm high
- Cut into rounds and brush egg over the tops
- Bake at 200°C for approximately 20 minutes, until nicely golden brown
Chilled dough cut out into individual discs! Thankfully they retained their shape.
I didn’t take out the scones halfway during baking like what Chef Michaud did in the video. Don’t have that kinda devotion! Thankfully most of them retained their shape after baking. I’d noticed that those nearer to the convention fan somewhat leaned to one side, as if an hurricane had gone through it. Looking a bit odd yes, but still very delicious!
Hidemi Sugino’s framboise pépins, which he uses for several of his creations like Ambroisie and Tartelette aux Figues. The former is what helped him clinched the Coupe du Monde in 1991, making him one of the most revered Japanese patissiers. I’d made this a day ago when I was attempting to make Sugino’s Tartlette aux Figues, but alas all was not meant to be as the fresh figs I’d gotten are no longer in their prime. Abandoned the project halfway and threw out all the Crème frangipane made while the pate sucree sits in the freezer waiting to be filled out. But this ruby red mess is too precious to be thrown out. It went so well with clotted cream on the scones!
Framboise Pépins from Hidemi Sugino’s Le Goût Authentique Retrouvé (makes 230g)
- 70g sugar
- 40g glucose
- 15g water
- 200g frozen raspberries
- 8g pectin powder
- 45g sugar (premixed with pectin powder)
- 12g lemon juice
- Add sugar, glucose, raspberries and water into heavy saucepan. Mix well and bring to a boil
- Turn off flame and add granulated sugar and pectin mixture gradually with stirring
- Mix well to thicken consistency
- Cool pepins over ice bath and add lemon juice. Adjust the quantity to taste
Scones are traditionally enjoyed with Devonshire clotted cream. This holy matrimony likens pancakes and maple syrup. But clotted cream is as much being coveted as it is elusive. Rumour has it that its available at a gourmet grocery store located at Dempsey Road but when I dropped them a call to enquire on clotted cream and AOC Eschire beurre, the staff who picked up the phone had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. So much for product knowledge. On the other hand, alocal supermarket now carries clotted cream from Australia. Not sure how the “Australian style” differs from the real McCoy from Devonshire but thankfully it does it job quite befittingly making the scones doubly… no wait, triply scrumptous!
“So sinful!!!” some of you might squirm at the sight of the big glob of clotted cream only to be matched with an equally zealous splosh of framboise pepins. But wait til you try it and I’m sure you would be licking off the butter knife!
Personal Notes and Reflections
The initial plan was to half the recipe for 8 scones, which is more or less a good “weekly dosage” I thought to myself. But I made a mistake when I weighed the cream and had to “top up” the difference by quickly doubling the other ingredients. Thankfully, the recipe seemed fairly forgiving and the blooper didn’t manifest in any way in the final product.
Although the full recipe’s worth of ingredients was prepared, only half the amount was used for baking and the other half frozen. I’m not sure how well scones dough can be chilled over extended periods of time though. I’ll probably bake the other half of the frozen dough over the next week or two. We would know then!
As with typical quickbreads or shortbread recipes, the butter is quickly rubbed with the dry ingredients until crumbly and just incorporated. Do not overwork the dough as it would cause it to glutenise too much and end up with very rock-hard scones!
The dough, after being rolled out on a baking tray, was left to chill in the fridge. The initial plan was to leave it there for half an hour but it ended up in “cold treatment” for more than an hour as I was chatting with Evangeline from Evan’s Kitchen Ramblings and had totally forgotten about it! They became a tad too hard to be manipulated but on a slightly more positive note, produced really decent disks after some work with a biscuit/cookie cutter. I’ll do likewise next time, i.e. leave the rolled out dough in the fridge for about an hour and return them to room temperature for about 3-5 mins before cutting them into individual discs.
I took Chef Michaud’s “dare” and used full fat whipping cream in place of milk and the results were fantastic! Really rich and aromatic!
Chef Sugino’s framboise pépins is really good and what’s more, it takes barely a few mins to prepare! I’d used frozen raspberries straight from the freezer instead of fresh ones as upon freezing, the berries become really soft when returned back to room temperature and are considerably easier to macerate in the sugary syrup concoction. Its really good as a quickfix for freshly prepared confiture. I can confidently say Smuckers and Hero no more! I would decrease the amount of sugar added to the water and glucose mixture next time to accentuate the astringency of raspberries. The sugar mixed with pectin, on the other hand, must be kept to its true quantity. Traditionally, pectin powder has to be carefully sprinkled over the boiling jam mixture, accompanied with some zealous whisking to prevent the pectin from clumping together. The process of mixing pectin powder with granulated sugar prior to being added to the raspberry mixture is in essence, to prevent the agglutinisation from occurring but yet without using much elbow grease. How clever!!!
Oh yeah, the “weekly dosage” for 8 scones is well, more of a guideline. I polished off three scones with clotted cream and the framboise pépins within half an hour, all of it during the photo taking session. They were simply delish!!! Had to pull myself away or I’ll end up with nothing left to shoot. I guess that’s the major up side in food photography; your models don’t grumble at repeated multiple angular shots and at the end of it, you get to eat ’em! Just 8 scones for a week, who am I kidding right?!