Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lemon Zucchini Scones

“Tea anyone?”

With a few of the baby zucchinis left and my love for baked goods I thought it would be fun to try something new this morning, lemon zucchini scones. These scones are very fresh and light (not in calories mind you). The lemon and zucchini complement each other well and just to give them a little punch they include a dash of nutmeg and a grind of fresh pepper. Yes pepper, that wasn’t a typo.

Before we get baking, a few words on scones, and these in particular. After much research and baking many a scone there are few things to keep in mind when baking your first batch.

First, your butter must start cold and stay cold. This means that you mix your dry, have your liquid mixture ready on stand by, and only take the butter out of the fridge when you are ready to cut it into the dry mixture. When you are cutting in the butter try to avoid touching it with your hands. Your hands will warm the butter, so will a lot of friction, like a food processor or mixer, so just use a pastry cutter. Also, move quickly, once you have the butter cut in to the point that it looks like a cross between course cornmeal and very small peas, pour in your liquids and work them in with a spatula swiftly.

Second, don’t over mix your liquids into the dough. At the final stage you will mix the liquids in with the dries and it will not look all the way mixed. You may even be tempted to add liquid, “DON’T!” It just needs to be mixed enough to come together. By the way, it is only when you turn the dough out on to the work surface that you will touch it with your hands. Forming it into a large rectangle with your hands will help bind it together enough to form your scones. Just remember to work quickly and don’t overwork the dough. You know you’ve done it right if the scones are still cool to the touch when you place them on the baking sheet.

Now just a couple of notes about these scones. You will notice that the grated zucchini needs to be squeezed dry. This means that after you grate it, place it in the middle of a double layer of paper towels, fold the paper towels over the zucchini and press the liquid out of them. This is important so that the moisture content of the scones is correct. Next, when you use nutmeg, it’s always best to use freshly grated but if you don’t have that then just toast it in a pan over the stove and this will enhance the flavor. This doesn’t take very long, seconds really, so just when you start to smell the nutmeg aroma, take it off the fire and it’s done. Then finally, I dust these scones with vanilla sugar. Vanilla sugar is simply sugar infused with the smell and taste from a vanilla bean. You can make this with a vanilla bean that you possibly used in a previous recipe where you scrapped out the insides of the bean and were left with just the husk or outside of the bean. I like to just put the bean back in the jar and fill it with sugar so that I have it on hand any time I want sugar with a little extra flavor.

So with that, I know you will be successful in your scone adventures.

And now shall we say, “Bon Appetite, now we may eat!”

Lemon Zucchini Scones
(16 Servings)

2 cups all purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
½ cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg or toasted ground nutmeg
1 tsp lemon zest
½ cup grated zucchini, squeezed dry
1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 egg
½ cup cream
Vanilla sugar for dusting

Heat oven to 375. With pastry cutter, mix flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, lightly beat egg and add cream, then set aside. Add lemon zest, zucchini, and cold butter to the dry mixture and cut it in with a pastry cutter until it resembles a cross between course cornmeal and very small peas. Add liquid mixture and mix together with a pastry cutter and then spatula until the dough starts to come together. Turn out on to flat working surface and quickly form the dough into a large rectangle; dough should be about an inch thick. Cut dough into 16 triangles or other desired shape and place onto baking sheet. Dust with vanilla sugar. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes at 375.

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