Better-than-Starbucks Vanilla Scones

Ever gone to Starbucks looking for a sweet treat that won’t kill you with calories?  If so, you’ve probably tried the Petite Vanilla Bean Scone from the bakery case.  Aptly named, the PVBS is just enough to curb your sweet tooth, but at about $2 a pop, these treats don’t come cheap coupled with a $5 coffee! Every time I buy one, I wonder why I spend all this money when I have a delicious scone recipe in my back pocket??

When I think about it, I probably don’t make these too often because they remind me of my grandfather. When he was in the hospital in his final weeks, I would ask him what I could do to cheer him up.  Being from Liverpool, England, my grandad was an Englishman through and through. He was always partial to a “cuppa”, and he loved currant scones.

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I made it my mission to bake the perfect batch of scones for him, and when I was able to bring him a fresh one with a hot cup of tea in his hospital room and he said it reminded him of being back home in England, I knew then and there I’d made him proud. My Nana asked for the recipe several times after that, but she never made the scones. Like me, I think she found it too painful.

So that’s why when I make these it’s bittersweet. I don’t think I’ve made currant scones since my grandparents passed. I’ve made several variations though, so below is the basic recipe and below that are the variations I’ve tried.

The original recipe I found was on AllRecipes.com, but it looks like the author of that post actually got the recipe from USA WEEKEND columnist Pam Anderson. My additions are in red.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (note: DO NOT substitute whole wheat flour)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup very cold butter (keep butter in the fridge until you’re using it!)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup dried currants (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees C
  2. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar together. Using the large side of a cheese grater (the big holes), grate the cold butter into the flour mixture. (Fun fact: I once convinced my brother-in-law that the grated butter was mozzarella cheese so he’d eat it. We still tease him about it to this day).
  3. IMG_9659
  4. Using your hands, blend the grated butter into the flour mixture until it all comes together into a pebbly mixture. The mixture will clump in your hand if you squeeze it – that’s how you know you’ve blended it enough.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk the egg, sour cream and vanilla extract together until smooth. If you don’t want to get your hands messy, you can use a fork to drag this mixture through the flour/butter  mixture.  (I usually just stick my hands in and start blending) Mix together until a sticky dough forms. Be careful not to over-knead this otherwise your scones will be too dense – just knead until the dough feels elasticky.
  6. Form the dough into a ball and roll out on a flat, floured surface. Cut into triangles. If you don’t feel like whipping out the rolling pin, just cut the dough ball into pieces and bake the scones like that.
  7. Place the triangles on a lined or non-stick cookie sheet about 1/2-1 inch apart. Bake for 15-17 minutes until the tops are turning golden.  Cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet then transfer to a cooling rack.  Eat warm or at room temperature.

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VARIATIONS

Lemon-cranberry scones: follow the recipe above, but instead of 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, use 1/2 lemon extract (not lemon juice!), 2 tablespoons lemon zest and 1/2 cup dried cranberries.

Coconut scones: follow the recipe above, but also add about 1/2 cup shredded UNSWEETENED coconut.

Vanilla-glazed scones: Mix 1.5 cups confectioner’s sugar, 1 tbsp melted butter, 2.5 tbsp milk, a pinch of salt, and 1 tsp vanilla extract together in a small  bowl.  Once the plain scones are cooled, pour the glaze over the scones and let it harden (no need to refrigerate).

I also suppose you can make these savory – maybe 1/2 cup strong cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup of chives?  If you know of a good savory combo leave a comment!

The scones in the images above are vanilla scones with coconut and dried cranberries.

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