What I’m Baking: Scones and Irish Coffee

Scones and Irish Coffee

Back in grad school, two of my close friends and I decided to spend St. Paddy’s Day in Dublin.  Spring break had just started and tickets from London were so insanely cheap that it would have been crazy for us not to take advantage of the opportunity.  When I told people about our trip, I kept hearing the same thing over and over again: “Ohhh St. Paddy’s in Dublin is wild. You have to be careful, are you sure you want to go? It might be sketchy.”  After hearing this a few fifty times or so, I started to believe the hype.  I mean I figured it would be fun, but not as crazy as people were making it out to be.  By the time we arrived in Dublin, I was seriously expecting a green colored Mardi Gras on steroids with leprechauns, Irish accents, and maybe a drunken appearance by Bono or someone else really cool.

My hyped up vision of St. Paddy’s Day was not exactly accurate.  Was it a fun day?  Of course, it was a blast!  Was it the craziest thing I’ve ever been to?  Not so much.  Did I drink my fair share of Guinness?  Yes……yes I did and one was even green.  Did we see a bunch of Swedish dudes perform an impromptu cover of Abba’s “Dancing Girl” complete with the world’s greatest flute solo?  Actually, we did.  Did Bono show up, hand me a pint, and sing a song for me?  No…..stupid Bono crushing my dreams.

Overall, Dublin was a great place to spend St. Paddy’s and it was an experience I’m glad I got to share with two of my closest friends.  My favorite part of the day (minus the amazing unexpected Abba cover band) was starting off the morning with a scone and Irish Coffee at the pub.  I have to admit, at first, I felt a little weird being at a pub for breakfast.  The thought of drinking a heavy stout first thing in the morning did not appeal to me.  However, when I saw I could get a scone with clotted cream and strawberry jam as well as an Irish Coffee, I was totally on board.  It was the perfect breakfast to start my St. Paddy’s Day.  I’m not exactly a “morning person,” so the coffee helped wake me up and the scone provided a solid (and delicious) breakfast for a long day of wandering around the Dublin.

Close up Scone

Even though I’m not a big coffee drinker these days, I still like to start my St. Paddy’s off with an Irish Coffee.  And any excuse to make scones I will take.  My favorite scone recipe comes from Sarabeth’s Bakery in New York.  It’s light, moist, and impossibly delicious.  If you can get your hands on some clotted cream, it’d be wrong not to put it on your scone – it really elevates it to the next level of deliciousness.  My favorite Irish Coffee recipe is pretty traditional and really simple.  Just a nice hot cup of coffee with a shot of Jameson, brown sugar to taste, and some unsweetened freshly whipped cream piled on top.  It’s the ultimate breakfast for St. Paddy’s or any day you feel like being a little Irish!

Scone and Coffee

Scones
Makes about 12 scones

Recipe courtesy of Sarabeth’s Bakery: From My Hands to Yours

¾ cup milk (whole or 2%, not skim)
2 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into ½-inch cubes
1 large egg, very well beaten and set aside in a small bowl

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.

In a measuring cup, whisk together the milk and 2 eggs and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.  Add the butter and quickly toss to coat the butter with the flour mixture.

Using your hands, a pastry blender, or two butter knives cut the butter into the flour until the mixture looks sandy with small pea-sized pieces of butter.  The key here is to NOT incorporate all the butter into the flour.  I’m old school and like to use my hands to do this.  I believe the best way to learn how the mixture should look and feel is to just get your hands in there and let them do the work.  If you decide to use this method, you need to have a light touch and work relatively quickly.  You don’t want your hands to warm up the butter!

Using a spoon, stir in the milk and egg mixture until the dough just starts to come together (be careful not to stir too much and overwork the dough).  Place the dough on a well-floured surface and knead it until it just comes together.  Again, being careful not to overwork it.  Scones require gentle handling.  If you work the dough too much, they won’t rise properly and you’ll end up with a tough, rubbery scone.

With your hands, pat the dough into a roughly 11 inch circle.  Using a floured biscuit cutter, cut out the scones and place on the prepared baking sheet.  When doing this, make sure to press straight down and do not twist the cutter (twisting will inhibit the rise of the scones).  Lightly brush the top of each scone with a little of the beaten egg (this gives the scones a nice shiny, golden brown top).

Place the baking sheet with the scones in the freezer for about 10 to 15 minutes.  Then transfer the sheet to the oven and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Place the baking sheet on a wire rack and let cool.  You can serve the scones warm or let them cool completely.  I prefer to eat them once they’ve cooled, because then I can slather them with a thick layer of clotted cream and strawberry jam.  If the scone is warm, it tends to melt the clotted cream a bit and that just bums me out.

Jam and Scone

Me, a Guiness, and a dog named Max in a bar in Galway. All bars should seriously allow dogs.

Me, a Guinness, and a dog named Max in a bar in Ireland. Dogs in bars make me happy.

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