There's nothing like thinking you've developed a way of doing something only to come across someone or something that does it completely differently. In this case, that something is scones, and those someones happen to own a top NYC bakery. While I have always stuck to making dough the day of with grated frozen butter, Thomas Keller has a completely different method in mind using a stand mixer then both refrigerating and freezing the dough after it is made. It's the method of large-scale bakery kitchen production. This recipe for cinnamon honey scones yields a very tender and soft dough marbled with cinnamon-honey in an almost candy or streusal-like way, and comes from the Bouchon Bakery cookbook, and trust me, following his lead, you'll feel like you own a bakery yourself.
One thing to keep in mind. These are. Incredibly. Rich. Midway into your morning you'll realize you should probably have a salad at lunch :) I did a double take at first glance at the recipe, checking the web for correct measurements to verify that a batch of 12 (large) scones did indeed call for two sticks or 8 ounces of butter. I immediately decided to halve the recipe and baked off 3 one day and 3 a few days later. And despite my trepidation at the method, we liked the scones a lot. Their texture is a bit surprising, and not in a bad way at all. What you're getting is a pillow of an inside that is a bit more smooth and biscuit-like, not at all crackly. Eating it reminded me of the biscuits you got at Roy Rogers (aghh) growing up--that same soft fluffy texture inside with crisp outside.
The few changes I made were subbing sour cream for the creme fraiche, not using cake flour, just reducing some of the all purpose flour by scant two tablespoons, and making an attempt to sneak in a tablespoon of whole wheat flour instead. Because of the way this dough is made, it's a bit less feathery than my other favorite scone. But they are an entity in their own right for sure, and what sets them apart are the marbled streaks of cinnamon-honey mixture. Keller has you mix a bit of butter, honey and cinnamon together into a square, freeze it, and then cut it into chunks to add to the scone batter. In the oven they melt and soften and you bite into cinna-honey dots here and there. It's quite effective.
And the other great thing about these scones turned out to be the thing that concerned me in the beginning: that the dough is frozen. When that turned out to be fine in the chemical outcome I realized the advantage: it's already there. You set the oven to 350 when you get up, get dressed, wash your face, then put them on the sheet pan, take them out a half hour later, brush with honey-butter glaze that takes 2 seconds to heat on the stove, and let them cool. I found that step essential. Resist the urge to eat them piping hot. You need to let them sit for at least 15 minutes, and really, if you can let them go a bit longer than that, you're golden as honey. They don't get dry, they actually stiffen in a good way while maintaining their soft centers.
And one more thing: be sure and read the recipe all the way through first. You'll be best off doing the steps one at a time, over a few days, then bake when you need them. I made the honey cubes one day, the dough the next, then baked them the following. Lastly, I am going to go ahead and list the recipe exactly as it's written here, but note that I ultimately halved it. If you want a larger stash of scones, stick to the original, if you want just 6, halve what you see below, like I did. Don't get too stressed over the strange measurements, just do the best you can. Keller notes that in writing the recipe he had to reduce it a lot because of their usual large-scale production and large industrial mixers. xo MN
Bouchon Bakery's Cinnamon Honey Scones
Cinnamon Honey Cubes:
3 T. (30 g) all-purpose flour
2 1/2 T. (30 g) granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. (4 g) ground cinnamon
1 oz (30 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 T. (20 g) clover honey
Plain Scone Dough:
1 cup + 1 1/2 T. (152 g) all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups + 2 T. (304 g) cake flour (MN note: I used all-purpose)
2 1/2 tsp. (12.5 g) baking powder
1/2 tsp. (2.5 g) baking soda
1/4 cup + 3 1/2 T. (91 g) granulated sugar
8 oz (227 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup + 1 1/2 T. (135 g) heavy cream
1/2 cup + 2 T. (135 g) crème fraîche (MN note: I used sour cream)
Honey Butter Glaze:
3 T. + 2 tsp. (45 g) butter
1 T. (20 g) honey
For the cinnamon honey cubes: Place flour in a medium bowl. Sift in the sugar and cinnamon and whisk to combine. Toss in the butter cubes, coating them in the dry mixture. Using your fingertips, break up the butter until there are no large visible pieces. Using a spatula, mix in the honey to form a smooth paste.
Press the paste into a 4-inch square on a sheet of plastic wrap. Wrap tightly and freeze until solid, about 2 hours. (The paste can be frozen up to 1 week.)
For the scones: Place the all purpose flour in the bowl of a stand mixer and sift in the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and granulated sugar. Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment and mix on the lowest setting for about 15 seconds to combine. Stop the mixer, add the butter, and on the lowest setting pulse to begin incorporating the butter. Increase the speed to low and mix for about 3 minutes to break up the butter and incorporate it into the dry mixture. If any large pieces of butter remain, stop the mixer, break them up by and, and mix just until incorporated.
With the mixer running, slowly pour in the cream. Add the creme fraiche and mix for about 30 seconds until all the dry ingredients are moistened and the dough comes together around the paddle. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and the paddle and pulse again to combine.
Cut the cinnamon honey paste into 1/4-inch cubes. Once the scone dough is mixed, mix in the cubes by hand. Mound the dough on the work surface and, using the heel of your hand or a pastry scraper, push it together. Place the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap and press it into a 7 1/2-by-10-inch block, smoothing the top. Press the sides of your hands against the sides of the dough to straighten the edges. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 2 hours, until firm.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper of silpat. Using a chef’s knife, cut the block of dough lengthwise into thirds and then crosswise into quarters. You will have twelve 2 1/2-inch squares. Cover with a plastic wrap and freeze until frozen solid, at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight. (The scones can be frozen for up to 1 month.)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (convection) or 350 degrees F (standard). Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Arrange the frozen scones 1 inch apart on the sheet pan. Bake for 20 to 23 minutes in a convection oven, or 28 to 30 minutes in a standard oven, until golden brown. (MN note: I kissed mine under the broiler for a bout a hot second just to get a tad more color on top)
For the glaze: Stir the butter and honey together in a butter warmer or a small saucepan over medium-low heat until the butter has melted and combined with the honey.
As soon as you remove the scones from the oven, brush the top with the glaze. Cool completely on a rack.