A well-made scone that is fresh out of the oven is something that is just about irresistible. A scone in the pastry case of a coffee shop, on the other hand, is a lot easier to pass up. Many commercially made scones (in the US, anyway) are dry and cakey, and while you can get them down with a cup of coffee, they’re just generally not that tasty. If you’ve only ever encountered these types of scones, it may be hard to imagine why some people enjoy them so much.
For me, a good scone should have a slightly crisp exterior, a tender interior and a bit of flakiness to it from all the butter that goes into it. When these elements come together, you suddenly start to see why people like scones so much. These Rustic Buttermilk Scones have all of those qualities – and because of their rustic look, they are the perfect scone to get started with if you’ve never made them before. The scones are buttery, made with both butter and buttermilk, and they are just slightly sweet. The dough comes together in just a few minutes, so you can have a fresh batch even on a busy morning.
What makes these scones rustic is the way they are shaped. Shaping scones is the most intimidating thing about making them. There are a lot of ways to shape scone dough. You can roll it out and cut it into triangles with a sharp knife, or punch out rounds with a cookie or biscuit cutter. The easiest way to shape them is to break the dough up into roughly equal pieces and simply drop them onto a baking sheet, much like dropping balls of chocolate chip cookie dough onto a baking sheet. This method is low pressure, since it involves no rolling or cutting, and produces scones that have a charmingly rustic look and taste just as delicious (probably more delicious, actually) as picture-perfect bakery scones.
The scones are best when they are still slightly warm from the oven, but they can be stored in an airtight container after they have completely cooled and will keep for 1-2 days.
Rustic Buttermilk Scones
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, chilled and cut into several pieces
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
Add pieces of butter to the flour and rub in with your finger tips, or cut in with a pastry blender, until mixture is coarse and sandy and no pieces of butter larger than a big pea remain.
Stir together vanilla extract and buttermilk, then pour them into the flour mixture. Stir with a fork until the dough comes together into a rough ball. The dough should be slightly dry, not sticky. If the dough is too dry to come together, add in an additional tablespoon of buttermilk. If dough is very sticky, add in an additional tablespoon of flour. Knead dough by hand in the bowl for 20-30 seconds, folding it over itself a few times. Divide dough into eight equal pieces by hand (or by roughly cutting with a knife) and drop onto prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 15-19 minutes, until scones are light golden.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool before serving.