One of the first recipes I made from my first ever foodblog crush were these awesome buttermilk scones. I made them in my tiny New York apartment in the uppermost reaches of Manhattan where the radiator was broken and the whole apartment was at least four billion degrees, in October. I’ve kind of been a scone addict ever since.
However, I don’t think I ever actually tried a scone until college, or at least I tried something that was called a scone, whether or not it qualified I’m not entirely sure. I used to work at the campus café and we would stock these cinnamon “scones.” They were huge and had this light drizzle of super sweet icing over the top. They were more like a dense biscuit/cookie. I loved them, even though they were really dry and maybe a little overly sweet for scones. Actually I probably liked them because they were easy to steal and I was broke and I mean, I worked there, c’mon. Dealing with snotty sorority girls who thought we were Starbucks when ordering their extra-light no-foam triple-shot light-caramel whatever, I felt like the least they could do was give me a damn scone.
Even when the school changed food service providers we still had those scones. And I’m pretty sure no one in all of the University’s food staff knew where they came from. As far as I know leprechauns made them in the basement of Larison Hall (which also used to have this banging make your own ENORMOUS quesadilla option that they mysteriously took away my Sophomore year. They had this awesome spice you could sprinkle on top and I swear to god that stuff had crack in it, I could have snorted it by the pound it was so good).
Since then I have tried several other recipes but my favorite one is still the cream scone recipe from SmittenKitchen. And then I met The BFs mom and she made these uh-mazing cinnamon chip scones. I swear to you, she knows the leprechauns that make them at my college. Except these are better, ‘cuz they’re smaller. So you can eat more and they have fewer calories, right? I think that’s how that works.
So ever since I found out you could buy cinnamon chips I have been scouring my local grocery stores for them. And hot-damn wouldn’t you know it, in the city where you can find everything, you can’t find cinnamon chips. No really, I looked in like four stores. [sigh] So I called my mom and asked her to pick me up a few bags over Labor Day (because I had been looking, literally, for a year for these damn chips) and a week later a seventeen pound box shows up at my door filled with cinnamon chips. The woman out did herself.
As soon as that box arrived I shot off an e-mail to The BFs mother asking for her recipe. The woman is a genius baker; she makes the most amazing food. I was so excited to get her recipe. Imagine my surprise when her response was something akin to a giant “HA!” Turns out, those awesome cinnamon scones, they’re slice and bake from the freezer. [facepalm] And I’m back to square one.
Turns out, those leprechauns at school are busy. Not only do they make them for my University, they even freeze them for mass production. Sneaky little bastards. So until I can kidnap a leprechaun, which will likely have to wait until March, because we all know that’s when they come out in public, I’ve been experimenting with cinnamon chip scones. I fear I may never be able to recreate the texture of those other scones, which is what I really love about them. But this batch that I made, heavily adapted from Baking Illustrated, it’s pretty awesome. In fact, I made a batch, and the next morning over half of them were gone already. Looks like those leprechauns also snuck into my apartment and ate them. [shakes fist] I’ll get you!
Anyway, here’s at least one recipe for cinnamon chip scones. The texture is something like a cross between a muffin and a biscuit, and it’s not very sweet. If you like them sweeter I suggest sprinkling some turbinado (raw) sugar on top before baking.
Cinnamon Chip Scones
Adapted from Baking Illustrated
2 ½ cups flour, divided plus more for flouring your work surface
1 tbsp baking powder
3 tbsp dark brown sugar
½ tsp salt
4 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 cup cinnamon chips
¾ cup cold whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp cinnamon extract (I found mind at Fairway in New York, but you could also just use powdered cinnamon)
egg wash (1 egg plus 1 tbsp milk, beaten)
turbinado sugar (optional)
Pre-heat oven to 375°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
In a bowl whisk together the baking powder, brown sugar, salt and 2 cups of the flour until thoroughly mixed. Sprinkle the cubed butter over top. Using your fingers or a pastry blender, rub/cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse sand with a few larger chunks of butter. Really guys, this is so stupidly easy it’s surprising. Just cover the butter piece in flour, and keeping it submerged in the flour rub it between your thumb and the 2nd knuckle on your forefinger. Don’t overwork the dough, you don’t want the butter to soften too much, you just want to incorporate it.
Once the butter is cut in, pour the whole milk into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, add the egg and extracts and beat with a fork. Pour the milk mixture over the butter and flour and stir with a wooden spoon until it comes together, about 30 seconds. It’ll be ultra sticky. Once combined, sprinkle the remaining ½ cup flour over the dough and work with the spoon until mostly combined. Dump the entire contents of the bowl onto a well-floured work surface and work together into a slightly less sticky mass.
Flour the top of the mass a little so you can pat it out into a ½ inch thick round without having the dough stick to your hands or the table excessively. Cut into 8 triangles. Arrange on the baking sheet, alternating the directions of the points so they have a little room to spread and puff. Brush the tops of the scones with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar if using.
Bake 15-20 minutes, until the tops are golden. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.