Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers’ host.. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (a/k/a biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens!
I had a dual reaction when I saw this month’s DB challenge. The first was “Yaaaay, easy challenge!” The second was “Nooooo, more biscuits!”
Don’t get me wrong, I love scones/biscuits. So much so that I’ve made quite a lot of them in recent months. I made big, cheddar-and-chives scones for a party. I made tiny biscuits for Christmas. I made a cheese-and-bacon version of those same tiny biscuits for New Year’s – and, since we were supposed to join a large crowd for the occasion, I made close to 150 of them. Except we ended up not going, because I was sick. I gave a third of the biscuits to my in-laws, and forced another third onto some friends who innocently passed by a few days later. Part of the remaining third is still in our freezer. So I was understandably not too jazzed about making more of these things.
But a challenge is a challenge! And our host, Audax, put so much work into this deceptively simple one that I would’ve felt bad playing hooky. Scones are one of the easiest baked goods out there: there are few ingredients, no beating eggs, no creaming butter, and minimal kneading. In fact, the less you handle the dough, the better. So it’s the little things that make the difference between an acceptable biscuit, and a great one. And Audax did a great job at reuniting all the tips that can help.
Another cool thing about scones is that they are very versatile. We actually don’t eat a lot of breakfast or tea pastries, so I usually make savoury scones. On the day I decided to do the challenge, I had planned to make a spicy Thai soup for dinner. So, in order to end up with a somewhat coherent meal (as opposed to the weird Italian-Indian-Thai combos I sometimes wind up with), I experimented with shiitake scones.
I really wasn’t sure whether it would work. I followed the basic recipe, adding 1/2 cup of finely chopped rehydrated shiitake mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda. I kept the dough wetter than I usually do, too. When I was making huge batches of biscuits, I would use the food processor, but given that this was a fairly small load (8-9 medium scones), I mixed it by hand, using my fingers to incorporate the butter.
I did kind of a bad job rolling out the dough, so I got an uneven rise on some of the scones. But rise they did, and the crumb was light and fluffy. The flavour itself was decent, although it could have used more salt. I had actually contemplated putting soy sauce into the dough, but had decided against it; although I’m still very curious as to what would have happened. Overall, though, I doubt shiitake scones will be the next big Asian side dish... They were okay, but I would prefer a bowl of rice or some noodles any day.
The scone below was made from my last scraps, which I stacked. It looks freaky, but it was practically as good as the others.
Thanks, Audax, for a cool challenge! Please check out the challenge recipes at the Daring Kitchen (link to be updated as soon as the recipes go up), and take a look at the Daring Bakers’ blog roll to see what everyone else whipped up!