This month’s GF Ratio Rally is brought to you by the little treat called Scone.
Once upon a time, I didn’t know much about scones. In our universe, breakfast pastry was called cheese Danish. But one day, thanks to Julia Child and PBS, that all changed.
I made my first batch of scones the day after watching Marion Cunningham make them for Julia Child on the Baking with Julia series on PBS, way back when the Food Network was just a toddler. The scones she was making were so enticing; it made us imagine we could almost smell them through the old television. When Marion plated a scone piled high with berries and whipped cream for Julia – who began moaning (begin 7:30 in the video) as she was eating, we knew they had to be made right away.
As luck would have it, those first batches were fantastic. Then I hit a wall. I had no idea why they worked one time and not another. It just never occurred to me that how I was measuring the ingredients (volume-cups) could be the problem. Trying them again later using GF flour was an even bigger nightmare. I made my share of door stops and gooey messes.
Had I paid closer attention, Marion Cunningham mentions that scones are just like baking powder biscuits. Biscuits and Scones are apparently as related as fraternal twins. The ratio for a scone and biscuit dough is virtually the same. And since we were recently (accidentally) fortunate in creating a fabulous biscuit using Ratios, scones could not be far behind.
Like George Forman, it seemed easier to rename them both with a single moniker. No, not George. Bisconies, actually.
And in this case, ratio master, Michael Ruhlman becomes the Bisconie hero. Ruhlman’s biscuit ratio is 3-1-2. That would be three parts flour to one part fat to two parts liquid. What you add to the basic ratio is what determines whether you end up with scones or biscuits.
And just for the fun of it, we made two different types. Very Lemony Bisconies (the sconier version) and Bacon Cheese Bisconie (the savory and more biscuit-like version).
We use egg white to bind everything to avoid gums of any sort. The amount of egg whites also seem to create a crumb that really makes you feel like you are biting into a scone (I use dried whites and much less for biscuits).
Like many GF baked goods, they taste best the day they are made, but you can refresh them by gently warming them in the oven and splashing them lightly with a bitty little shower of water. That second day, they still will be slightly more crumbly, but the flavor does not suffer.
The basic recipe will yield six huge Bisconies for very hungry people, or eight smaller Bisconies.
The thing to remember is that the ratio is spot on – deviate and you will have a mix that is too goopy or dry. Handle as little as possible because though they are GF flours, they still can get tough. And you don’t want to melt the butter – the coldness of the added butter makes for a good flaky crumb.
Do brush them generously with the beaten egg and cream mixture before dropping the toppings on the dough.
They are incredibly easy to do and the basic recipe requires one bowl and a fork.
Oh, and a scale. Don’t leave home without that scale!
Remember, the Ruhlman Ratio for these are 3-1-2 or 3 parts flour to 1 part fat to 2 parts liquid. Think of it as 300 grams flour, 100 grams butter, and 200 grams total of egg white and buttermilk.
Base Bisconie Recipe Ingredients
- 300 grams GF flours (75 grams each: superfine brown rice, superfine white rice, GF oat, potato starch) about 2.5 cups
- 2.5 generous teaspoons baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of baking soda
- 50 grams white sugar (about ½ cup)
- 100 grams of chilled unsalted butter cut into small cubes (about 7 tablespoons)
- About 95 grams of egg whites (three large egg whites)
- 105 grams buttermilk (slightly less than ½ cup)
- 1 egg yolk beaten with one tablespoon cream (for brushing the tops)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line one or two baking sheets with parchment (depending on how many you are making) Count on 6-8 on one baking sheet.
Weigh flours into a large bowl. Add the sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk to blend. Tare the bowl to zero and weigh in 100 grams of the cubed butter.
With a pastry blender, a fork or two butter knives, cut the butter into the dry mixture until it resembles large coarse gravel – you’ll have larger and smaller pieces which are just fine.
Back on the scale, zero it again and add the egg whites to confirm the weight. It should be about 95 grams. Mix with a fork so that the egg whites are fully distributed.
Back on the scale, add the buttermilk to make up the difference between what the egg whites weighed and 200 grams – it should be about 105 grams.
Using a fork, mix until no dry ingredients remain. Knead in the bowl a few turns to finish incorporating. It looks like rough pastry dough.
Handling it quickly, divide mixture in thirds or quarters (depending on how many you will bake). And then divide each of those in half again (yielding 6 or 8 Bisconies). Shape into rounds with flat bottoms. You can certainly play with the shapes and turn them into whatever makes you cheery.
Brush with the beaten egg yolk and cream. Sprinkle with the topping. Bake for about 12 minutes and rotate. For larger Bisconies bake an additional 10-14 minutes. For smaller Bisconies bake 10 minutes and rotate and bake about 6-8 minutes more. Remove when they are golden brown and register about 205 degrees in the center.
Cool until just slightly warm.
Bacon Cheese Bisconies
- Follow Base recipe with the following additions/changes:
- Decease sugar to 3 tablespoons
- Add 1/2 cup each of chopped cooked bacon, chopped green onions
- Add 1 cup shredded hard sharp, stinky cheese
- Generous pinch of thyme, garlic and pepper
- Extra bacon, cheese, green onions and sea salt for the top
Add the thyme, garlic and pepper to the dry mixture and blend. Then add the bacon, green onions and cheese and blend well. Stir in the egg whites as instructed in the base recipe. Add the buttermilk with a fork and add more by small drops until all the dry ingredients are incorporated- this mixture may require a tiny bit more liquid. Altogether you might need a tablespoon more of buttermilk. Brush the rounds with egg/cream mixture and sprinkle with kosher salt, green onion, bacon and tiny bit of cheese. Bake as directed.
Very Lemony Bisconies with Lemon Glaze
- Follow Base recipe with the following additions:
- Add ¼ teaspoon each pure lemon flavoring and vanilla to egg whites
- Add zest of three lemons when adding buttermilk
- Glaze: 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted mixed with teaspoon or two of lemon juice
- Topping on glaze: lemon zest strings
Score the tops with an x using a sharp knife. Brush with egg/cream mixture and sprinkle with sugar. Bake. Prepare the glaze by mixing the sifted powder sugar with a tiny bit of lemon juice until it is just glaze-like drippy. Using a spoon splash some glaze on the tops in one direction making lines – or apply the glaze any way you want. Before it hardens, add some long strings of lemon zest and apply a touch more glaze over the top to hold them in place.
And there you go: Bisconies that are perfect every single time you make them.