Life is lurching back to gear again. Whether it’s back to school, or back to work after a vacation or just that sense that you need to buckle down now that days are starting to get shorter. The change of pace from languid summer to busy autumn can be jarring and cooking can fall by the wayside, at least for a while. And figuring out breakfast can be an afterthought. We’ve all been through periods of packaged bars, yogurt in the car, drive thru sandwiches or skipping altogether. But with these simple to make scones I offer an alternative for crazy mornings. These take just minutes to make ahead, then pop them in the oven while you get dressed or get all the day’s stuff together. You can wrap these in a napkin and eat on the go, or serve them with butter or jam, or if you happen to have it, clotted cream. I think of these as a busy morning solution, but they are also great on for weekend brunch, so you have time to spend on other dishes.
The food processor makes quick work of these, but you could also use a stand mixer, or your hands and a mixing spoon. With any scone or biscuit, less time kneading and working the dough makes for a lighter crumb, so just pull everything together with a few pulses of the processor. Grating very cold (even frozen) butter makes quick work of bringing the dough together while leaving pockets of butter that make the scones fluffy and tender. The add-ins are up to you, but dried fruit or chocolate chips work best. I’ve mapped out a few ideas below, and the ones in the picture have dried cranberries. And of course, you can make them plain or just with a dash of spices like cinnamon or nutmeg. If you don’t eat them all for breakfast, wrap the remaining, cooled scones in foil. Warm them on a low oven for an afternoon snack (why not call it high tea?) or put a cooled one in a lunchbox. And of course, you can cook these right after you’ve made them.
Overnight Scones with Many Variations
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cold
1 cup whole buttermilk, cold
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup add-ins (see below)
- Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Grate the cold butter over the flour using the large holes of a box grater, then pulse just until the butter is coated with flour and slightly broken up – some visible pieces of butter is good. Put the vanilla into the milk in the measuring cup and pour into the bowl of the food processor. Pulse until the dough starts to come together, then drop in your add-ins and pulse until the dough is cohesive – just pulse, don’t process and stop when the dough is mostly a lump, but there are still some crumbly pieces in the bowl.
- Spread a piece of parchment paper on the counter and very lightly dust it with flour. Dump the dough onto the paper and knead just a few times to bring it all together in a ball. Pat the dough into a round about 12-inches across and 2 inches thick, then cut the round into eight wedges. Transfer the wedges to a parchment lined baking sheet, separating the wedges so they are not touching each other, cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- When ready to bake, take the pan out of the fridge while the oven heats up. If you like, brush the tops of the scones with a little extra buttermilk and sprinkle lightly with sugar. This helps the tops brown and adds a little sweet crunch to the top, but is not strictly necessary. Cook for 20 – 25 minutes until browned (they’ll be a lighter brown with no extra buttermilk) and firm.
- Dried cranberries and orange zest
- Dried blueberries and lemon zest
- Dried cherries and chocolate chips
- Raisins and a teaspoon of cinnamon
- Toffee pieces or chocolate chips