Austen-tacious

Today is Jane Austen’s birthday. To say her work had an impact on my life would be putting it far too mildly. Reading Dickens and Austen positively challenged my reading comprehension and vocabulary and inspire my reading and writing to this day. Classic literature, especially Austen, set such a high standard that I am to this day pretty picky about what I read.

This time of year is so very busy, but today I still managed to celebrate by throwing together a batch of scones to munch on while I caught up on some Hallmark Christmas takes on Austen stories! Scones are such a quick and easy British cakey-biscuit-bread snack that has little sugar, but so much history and flavor! Traditionally these are eaten hot and buttered while taking tea in the afternoon. It’s also more traditional to roll these out into a disc and cut them into wedges prior to baking.

Confession, I have never in my life rolled and cut scones. But I’ve made scones many times. How is this possible? Well, I am madly in love with my Ceramic Scone Pan from World Market! It’s easy to use, non-stick to the T, easy to clean, and you just press the dough right into each of the sections! Little to no hassle.

For this basic scone recipe from Betty Crocker, I opted to use Kerrygold salted butter as a nod to the dish’s British roots (although I rarely use anything but Kerrygold salted butter). You may ask why I chose salted butter when baking. This is a great question. It’s standard practice to use unsalted butter in baking, but frankly we don’t care for unsalted butter. Often, recipes call for unsalted because of the inclusion of salt in the recipe. You definitely have the option of using salted butter and omitting salt, but I used both. I’ve found that many mainstream recipes are slightly underseasoned. Betty Crocker is generally spot on (so my scones were ever so slightly saltier), but I just never have unsalted butter on hand and I wasn’t about to use shortening for cream scones.

I definitely used heavy cream in these. Why would anyone ever not use heavy cream in their scones. It just makes them so incredibly rich and perfect! I also opted to dust the top festively with red decorating sugar. It not only added a Christmas-y touch, but created one of my favorite features when I make scones. Dusting the pan with sugar prior to adding the dough or finishing the dough with a dusting of sugar creates an unexpected crust that now my scones are now known for. You can enjoy them as is or enjoy them warm with butter or a little lemon curd (my favorite is Bonne Maman!) or a little crème fraîche/clotted cream.

Scones are fairly easy, but if you’re hesitant at first, World Market offers a really good variety of mixes that you just add water to. If you’re like me however, you’ll add milk in place of the water for extra goodness! The Mr polished off two after work, my girlfriend took one down while we were chatting on my couch this afternoon, and I’m not ashamed to say I enjoyed a couple myself!

What are some of your favorite out-of-the-ordinary afternoon snacks?

Currently Reading: Saveur Magazine, Issue 180, Jan/Feb 2016

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