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Scones are such a nice treat. It is crazy that I have never made them until today! My Mom started making them about a year or so ago; when I was home last year, I had a choice of date or blueberry scones for breakfast and didn’t even bother to make a choice, since I knew both flavors would be equally fantastic. (They were.) She may have gotten her recipe from my brother, who made them in a baking class at school and brought them home to rave reviews. Whatever the origin, I love this recipe and was excited to give it a try. When it comes to fruits, nuts and spices to put in, I have so many ideas; I chose to start with my personal favorite muffin flavors, almond and poppy seed. If anything, I didn’t put enough almond flavoring in; the almond taste is mild, to say the least. But too much almond can be very wrong, and my plan is to try again and incorporate some almond meal or slivers to boost that flavor. Mild almond flavor aside, the texture is light and they taste so good, especially with a dollop of jam– I broke out the grapefruit-rhubarb-cardamom jam I made in January and grinned my way through my first scone!

My favorite aspect of this recipe is that, since the base is not very sweet, you can use sweet or savory accent flavors as desired with no adjustments to the basic recipe. As I mentioned, Mom makes them with blueberries and lemon zest or with chopped dates; some of my sweet ideas are cherry-almond, hazelnut, lemon-lavender, dried apricot with pistachio, peach with nutmeg, and raspberry with dark chocolate. For savory, I can’t wait to try cheddar cheese with green onions and/or bacon, shallots and gruyere, sun-dried tomato with basil or jalapeno with cheddar. Looks like I have a lot of scone-making to do! What’s your favorite combination of flavors? I know I haven’t thought of everything…

3/5 update! One more note: I like my scones to be closer to biscuits than cake. You can see that the ratio of butter to flour/dry ingredients is fairly low, which gives these a biscuit-like flavor (also helped by the small amount of sugar) and crumb. That’s the way I like mine; I always lean toward savory over sweet and you’ve probably noticed that many of my other baked goods are frosting-less cakes, heartier cookie bars and the like. So, these scones are awesome, and I love them lots, but they are the put-jam-on-them-to-make-them-sweet kind. Happy baking– 🙂

Almond-Poppy Seed Scones (makes 12)

  • 2  c. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 T. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 T. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 1/2 T. poppy seeds
  • 2 large eggs, beaten slightly
  • 1/2 c. cream or whole milk
  • 1 tsp. almond extract

Preheat your oven to 425; grease a cookie sheet, or line it with parchment or a silicone mat, and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients; use a pastry blender or two forks to cut the cold butter into the flour mixture. You are looking for pea-sized or smaller pieces of butter in your dry mixture; the butter will be visible in pieces and this is okay. Leaving small pieces of butter, instead of blending everything to a uniform consistency, helps give a light, non-tough texture to your finished product. Stir in the poppy seeds and then carefully fold in the eggs, milk and almond extract just until the dry mixture is wet. Resist the urge to overmix! Gather the wet, sticky dough into a ball and turn out onto a lightly floured board; flour your hands and lightly knead the dough together, then shape into a flattened circle, about 1/2″ thick. Using a sharp knife (it’s also helpful to grease it lightly), cut the circle into quarters, then each quarter into thirds. Transfer your 12 scones carefully to the prepared cookie sheet and bake for 13-15 mins., until golden brown.