Now that November is a fact of life, rather than a somber cloud on the horizon, it's time to accept it: summer's gone for good. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
After all, autumn signals the start of the holiday baking season. And that's a very good thing indeed.
Sure, none of us likes to feel pushed – I mean, it's downright irritating to see back-to-school ads in stores by mid-June, before school even lets out for the summer up here in New England. And Halloween in August? C'mon.
But when you love to bake, the return of cooler weather is exciting. It means you can light the oven without drawing sighs of exasperation from your overheated family. And without the garden calling you to come weed, you feel no guilt at all about staying indoors on a Saturday afternoon, poring over cookbooks, Googling recipes, deciding what kind of cookies to bake for this week's school lunches.
Autumn also means the return of cooler-weather flavors. Cinnamon and ginger, nutmeg and allspice are perfect in apple and pumpkin pies, molasses cookies, gingerbread... all of the darker, lustier dishes that replace summer's light, berry-based desserts.
And November – soon, now – signals the appearance of one of my very favorite seasonal ingredients of all: eggnog.
Come the holidays, I love the rich, distinctive flavor of nutmeg in cake, cookies, muffins... even eggnog bread, for French toast. I've never made eggnog pancakes, but why not? Any recipe that calls for milk or cream as one of the ingredients should work equally well made with eggnog – and taste a whole lot fancier.
That was what inspired these eggnog scones. A healthy helping of cinnamon bits adds nice complementary flavor, and a compelling look.
If you don't care for eggnog – or can't wait for it to appear in the supermarket – simply substitute heavy or whipping cream. But if eggnog is a special favorite at the holidays, something you wait for all year, then bookmark this blog.
Because Cinnamon-Eggnog Scones are bound to be a holiday hit.
For softer Flav-R-Bites, soak in milk for 10 to 15 minutes (no longer - they'll eventually dissolve); drain before using. Substitute the cinnamon-milk for some of the eggnog in the recipe, if desired; or brush it atop oven-ready scones, for added color and flavor.
OK, let's get started. Whisk together the following:
2 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Add 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter, cut into pats or small cubes.
Work in the butter just until the mixture is unevenly crumbly; it's OK for some larger chunks of butter to remain unincorporated.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the following:
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/2 teaspoon eggnog flavor
3/4 cup cold eggnog
Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients.
Stir until everything is moistened and holds together. A bowl scraper helps incorporate the dry stuff in the bottom of the bowl into the mass of dough.
There. Now it's ready to shape.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface; a silicone rolling mat works well here. Divide the dough in half; each half will weigh about 18 ounces. Roll and pat each half into a 6 1/2” circle.
Each circle will be about 3/4” thick.
Using an acrylic pizza wheel, a knife, or a bench knife that you've run under cold water, slice each circle into 6 wedges. BE CAREFUL - don't bear down; you don't want to cut the mat. That's why I use an acrylic pizza wheel.
Transfer the circle of wedges to a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet; a giant spatula comes in handy here.
Carefully pull the wedges away from the center to separate them just a bit; there should be about 1/2” space between them, at their outer edges.
Alternately, use a 2 1/4" round cutter to cut each circle into 6 to 8 rounds.
To get 8 rounds, you'll need to gather the scraps...
...shape them into a 3/4”-thick rectangle about the width of your cutter, and cut 2 more scones.
Can't make up your mind what shape to cut? Cut one circle into wedges, the other into rounds.
Brush each scone with some eggnog...
Ah, beautiful! Ready to go into the oven, right? Not quite yet. For best texture and highest rise, place the pan of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes, uncovered.
While the scones are chilling, preheat the oven to 425°F.
Back to our wedge-shaped scones. Notice the bit of space between them? Placing them close together, but not touching, means their sides will bake up soft and tender.
Bake the scones for about 20 minutes, or until they're golden brown.
When you pull one away from the others, it should look baked all the way through; the edge shouldn't look wet or unbaked.
Remove the scones from the oven, and cool briefly on the pan.
Serve warm, with a cup of holiday cheer... or some cold eggnog!
Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for Cinnamon-Eggnog Scones.