Scones are one food that can illicit surprisingly strong reactions from people. Some people love them (usually people who have had good scones) and others hate them (usually people who have had bad scones. Some like a traditional scone that wants to be topped with jam and cream, others want something more tender, moist and sweet on its own, a cross between a muffin and a cookie. I like them all, but made it a point to experiment with scones a bit to see if I could come up with one that would satisfy both the traditionalists and those who prefer the latter type of scone.
The traditional method for making a scone is to cut cold butter into a flour mixture, much like making biscuits or pie crust. Instead of doing this, I blended softened butter into the flour mixture for the scones, as I often do when making shortbread. This serves to make them more tender and a bit less flaky or biscuit-like because a lot of the butter ends up in very tiny pieces, moreso than cold butter would.
This method works extremely well for these scones. They bake up to have a crisp, sugar-topped crust and a fairly moist interior. They’re quite light and very tender, thanks both to the method of mixing in the butter and the inclusion of oats. I used dried apricots and cut them into fairly large chunks to make sure that you get lots of apricot flavor in each bite.
Apricot Oat Scones
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup quick cooking rolled oats
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter, softened
3/4 cup buttermilk, cold
1 cup dried apricots, diced
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, oats, sugar, baking powder and salt.
Add butter to the bowl and blend in with an electric mixer until butter is broken up into chunks. Butter pieces should range from very fine to pea or almond-sized. Add in cold buttermilk (cold buttermilk helps the butter to firm up a bit) and apricots, then stir until dough comes together into a sticky ball.
Place dough on a lightly floured surface and shape into a log about 12-inches long. Sprinkle coarse sugar all over the top of the log, then flatten it with your hands into a rectangle about 1/2 or 3/4-inch thick and about 4-inches wide (dough should still be about 12-inch long or a bit more). Divide dough into 4 even pieces with a sharp knife, then divide each square piece diagonally into two triangles. Separate triangles and place on prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 17-20 minutes, until scones are lightly browned and set.
Cool on a wire rack before serving.