I exaggerate only slightly when I tell you that these are the best scones you will ever eat. Inspired by a recipe from The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook, the combination of the ingredients called for, and the technique required, results in a scone that is rich and buttery, craggy and fruity, with a crumb that is appropriately “crumbly,” yet dense, and deeply vanilla-infused. The assembly can be tricky, as the dough is never kneaded, and so requires a bit of manhandling when being shaped. And the finished product does benefit from a rest in the fridge, and then one in the freezer, drawing out the time between assembly and consumption. But keep your wits about you, curse me under your breath, and carry on: It is unlikely you will ever taste a breakfast baked good this good again.
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set side. In a small bowl (or a two-cup Pyrex measuring cup, my preference), whisk together the vanilla, crème fraîche and cream and place in the refrigerator.
- Whisk the flour, soda, and sugar together in a large bowl and set aside. Using the largest holes on a box grater, grate the butter into the flour mixture and toss with your hands, covering all the butter with flour.
- Make a well in the center of the butter/flour and add the crème fraîche mixture. Using a wooden spoon (or rubber spatula), incorporate the liquid into the dough. The dough will be craggy and lumpy, with bits of butter throughout, and a little loose flour.
- Add the frozen berries, stir to combine, and place the dough in the refrigerator overnight, or for at least several hours, until quite chilled. After the overnight rest, give the dough a good stir or two, but do not be alarmed-or tempted to add more liquid-if it still looks dry and crumbly.
- Dip a small, high-sided cookie or biscuit cutter (about 2.5 by 1.5 inches.) in flour (to make scone removal easier) and smoosh a handful or more of dough into the cutter. Continue adding more and pressing, until the tightly compacted dough resembles a hockey puck. Using your fingers, push/slide the "puck"-shaped piece of dough from the cookie cutter onto the prepared sheet. If the pucks are flaky, dry-ish, and crumbly, with pockets of butter throughout, you're on the right track. And if some of them fall apart when they hit the sheet, don't worry, just scoop up the dough and try again.
- After forming all the scones, place the tray in the freezer until the scones are frozen solid, several hours or (preferably) overnight. This step really helps the scones hold their shape when baking.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Combine the egg and salt together in a small bowl, and brush the tops of the scones with the wash. Sprinkle the turbinado sugar on top of the scones and bake for about 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. The scones are done when the bottoms have browned, the tops are crackly, and the sprinkled sugar looks caramelized.
- Let the scones cool only slightly before serving.
Jessie Sheehan is a baker, food writer and recipe developer. She is the author of The Vintage Baker and the co-author of Icebox Cakes (both published by Chronicle Books). She blogs at jessiesheehanbakes.com, can be found on Instagram at @jessiesheehanbakes, lives in Red Hook, Brooklyn and has a soft spot for chocolate pudding.