Monday, January 17, 2011

Peanut Butter Jelly Time!


Sometimes I think scones were invented to enjoy with tea.  There are few sweets that go more perfectly with a hot cup of fragrant tea, but equally as well with the popular morning cup of Joe.  Fresh scones can be found at bakeries all around, and yet oftentimes are dense and overly sweet.  Sometimes, they're also the size of my head.  A good scone should be flaky and tender, and a more reasonable size than what we find at many bakeries in America.  I love making scones at home because they really are so simple to put together whether you have an electric mixer or not.  I will often just mix the dough by hand instead of getting my mixer dirty.


You can also make so many different flavors of scones, either sweet or savory.  I generally use the same basic scone recipe I've developed and adapt it to fit the different mix-ins that I chose.  I will use fresh fruit like whole blueberries, raspberries, or chopped strawberries, or dried fruit such as plump raisins or dried cherries, and even decadent treats like chocolate chips can easily find their way into these tender pastries.  I recently decided to make scones using one of the ultimate sandwich filling pairings: peanut butter and jelly.


I had seen a recipe in the Alice's Tea Cup Cookbook which I was giving a friend for Christmas.  I decided to test out the recipe and make some scones and include it as part of her gift.  I followed the recipe to a T and sadly, by the end of the process, it was clear to me that the recipe used way too much liquid (and no egg either, which I consider an important ingredient to help scones have structure).  The dough was so wet, that while cutting them with a round cutter was challenging at first, using a spatula to lift the circles from the cutting board to the pan was even worse.  I couldn't believe I needed a spatula to do what my hands would do for every other scone I've ever made.

Alice's Tea Cup PB&J scones spread out more like fat cookies with soft edges, rather than developing the structure that would be expected from a scone

My scone dough is usually fairly wet and sticky and requires its share of flouring the work surface and the dough, but it's never this difficult to work with.  To top it off, the scones baked, spread out flat and looked like cookies instead of scones.  They were tender and tasty, sure, but they looked nothing like a scone, and they were a pain to assemble.  I decided to adapt my scone recipe and make better, more stable peanut butter and jelly scones that actually look like scones, packed full of PB&J flavor.  These were a huge success!  I recommend them to peanut butter and jelly fans around the world, because why can't breakfast time be peanut butter jelly time too!  I suggest using a chunky fruit preserve to allow for lots of "jelly" bits throughout the scone, but jam will work well also, just don't overwork it.

**I'm submitting these scones to Sweet As Sugar Cookies' Sweets For Saturday! Please check out the other submissions as well**


Peanut Butter and Jelly Scones
Makes about 12 to 16 scones, depending on the size you prefer

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 T. baking powder
Pinch salt
1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup), cold and cut into cubes
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup strawberry or raspberry jam or preserves
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup heavy cream or buttermilk, plus more for brushing on top
Coarse sugar, for sprinkling

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add cold butter cubes to the flour mixture and work the butter into the flour mixture, using your fingers or a pastry cutter, until the mixture resembles coarse pea or dime-size crumbs. Be careful not to overwork the mixture or the butter will soften too much and the resulting scones will not be flaky. Gently work the peanut butter and jam into the flour/butter mixture, leaving chunks, just as with the butter. Do not overwork the mixture or it will be tough.


Add the egg and the heavy cream/buttermilk to the flour mixture and mix until just combined (you may not need all of the liquid if the flour absorbs it all, add most of it at first and add the last bit if necessary). The dough will be wet and sticky.

Scrape dough onto a generously floured large wooden cutting board or work surface. The dough will be sticky, so take extra care flouring your hands and the sides and top of the dough as well, lightly patting it flat and into a rectangle shape, about 3/4 inch thick (make sure it doesn't stick! Add more flour to the board if necessary). Don't overwork the dough, as you want the butter inside to stay as cold as possible until the scones head into the oven, ensuring a flaky result!

Depending on your preference, you can use a round floured cookie or biscuit cutter to cut circles, or use a bench/dough scraper or knife to cut triangles. Flip each cut scone over and place upside down on the parchment lined baking sheet (the bottoms are flatter and will look prettier as the tops of the scones), spacing a couple inches apart. Lightly brush heavy cream on top of the scones (but not the sides), followed by a sprinkle of coarse sugar.


Bake scones for 15 to 20 minutes until lightly golden on top. Scones can be enjoyed hot out of the oven, warm, or room temperature. If you like them warm, lightly reheat them before enjoying the leftovers (if there are any!)

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