Friday, September 16, 2011

Sweet tea peach scones

Scones with tea-soaked peaches by Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

Summer in the South means sweet tea and peaches, at least for this Georgia girl. But two weeks past Labor Day means that the peaches are fading fast. One way to keep the sweet, floral peach flavor in my baked goods is to use dried peaches. I chopped up a package, soaked them in the table wine of the South - sweet tea, and added them to my buttery buttermilk scone recipe. Oh, my heavens, these are good.

Peaches by Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books
Sweet tea and peach buttermilk scones

My favorite tip for tender scones is to shred chilled butter into the dry ingredients. I just use an ordinary grater, the kind I use for shredding rat-trap cheddar cheese, and run the chilled stick of butter across it. The resulting butter curls are uniform and perfect for blending into the flour mixture.

1 (6 oz.) package dried peaches
1/2 cup sweet tea
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup unsalted butter, frozen
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
Milk or cream for glazing
Turbinado, demerara or sparkle sugar for glazing

1. Dice dried peaches by first slicing them into thin strips, then chopping crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces. Use your sharpest chef's knife. A bit of cooking spray on your knife might also help. Place diced peaches into a microwave safe bowl, add 1/2 cup sweet tea and zap in microwave for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and let cool on counter while preparing the scone dough.

2. In a batter bowl, mix dry ingredients together. Using a regular grater, shred the chilled butter and with a light hand, gently mix the shavings into the dry ingredients. Using your hands and a gentle, quick touch, make sure the butter is evenly distributed throughout the flour mixture.

3. Pour in the buttermilk and stir gently with either a wooden spoon or my instrument of choice, a silicone spatula. If mixture seems dry, add additional buttermilk until a cohesive dough forms. The dough should be slightly wet and sticky, but not overly so.

4. On a floured countertop, press dough into a rough 12 X 6 inch rectangle (helpful shaping instruction visuals may be found on my blueberry scone post here). Spread soaked peaches onto dough, using your hands to press the fruit into the dough. Fold into thirds, letter-style. Press into 12 X 6 rectange again and fold letter-style again. If any little peach guys pop out, just press them back into the dough. Press again into a 12 X 6 rectangle and cut into 16 triangles. Place scones on a lined baking sheet. The scones can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 24 hours.

4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Carefully brush each wedge with buttermilk or cream and sprinkle turbinado sugar over the top. Bake at 400 for at least 15 minutes. They may need a bit more time, depending on your oven, convection, etc. Scones are ready when they are golden brown on top and bounce back when touched lightly in the center.

More variations on the scone theme:
  1. Scones for breakfast (1/2 recipe buttermilk scones)
  2. Raspberry scones
  3. Cream cheese and apricot scones
  4. Pineapple and ginger scones
  5. Blueberry and lemon scones (includes shaping instructions and pictures!)

Text and images copyright 2011, Lucy Mercer.


kellypea said...

I'm not from the south but grew up loving sweet tea. It's something my grandmother loved so she passed it along to all of us. It'd never have thought of using it for such a great idea. I can imagine how wonderful this tastes!

Anonymous said...

Lucy, I've been waiting for this gorgeous recipe!

HapaMama said...

I love the fragrance of tea in baked goods, these scones sound wonderful. And I love your tip of shredding chilled butter in a grater.