I'm a master at putting things off. All of my papers in school were written the night before they were due. Even if I get all the ingredients and am excited to bake it, I usually end up baking the Daring Baker's challenge the day before the posting date.
Perhaps that's why it's taken me so long to get this post put together. It was way back in October of last year that the lovely and talented Jaden of Steamy Kitchen held the Great Vanilla Bean giveaway and I won 1/2 lb of vanilla beans from Saffron.com.
I've had it on my mental to do list for all that time to make something really excellent with vanilla to say thank you to Jaden and to Saffron.com for the windfall of vanilla beans. It wasn't until I got an email from a blog reader requesting a vanilla bean scone recipe that I finally got off my behind and put together a recipe that is a vanilla winner.
Jo, the blog reader, said that Starbucks' vanilla bean scones were her favorite study aid, but a poor student could get rapidly more so, paying Starbucks prices. Those suckers are 75 cents each for teeny bite-sized scones! Flinging my budget to the wind, I bought three of them, so that I and my staff of taste-testers could have a standard to measure against.
I came up with a recipe that I think is close. It's not a clone, but it's quite good. Mine turned out bigger than the mini Starbucks scones, but smaller than the scone-as-a-meal size. Just right. It's got a nice crumb and is moist without feeling heavy or oily. And with three different uses of vanilla, it's sweetly satisfying.
You might notice that I use one vanilla bean to make 16 scones. "Well, where's the cost savings in that? Do you know how much those babies cost?" you ask. I do; that's why I was so giddy to win the contest and get 1/2 pound of vanilla beans for free. But you don't have to enter a contest to score big. Just go to Saffron.com. You can buy a pound (a whole ginormous pound!) of vanilla beans (that's about 100 beans!!) for only $20. And they're really nice beans, too. I know because I've been baking with them since October. Seriously good beans, people.
(I wasn't paid for that shameless plug, I just wanted to say thank you for the awesome haul of vanilla beans and to let you, my readers, in on the secret of where to get vanilla beans without taking out a second mortgage on your house or selling a kidney.)
So, thank you, Jaden, for the contest. Thank you, Saffron.com, for the wonderful vanilla beans. And thank you, Jo, for motivating me to make these lovely scones!
Triple Vanilla Scones - makes 16 scones
4 cups flour
1/2 cup vanilla sugar*
1 tsp lemon zest
1 vanilla bean
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
10 Tbsp unsalted butter, cold, cut into small chunks
1 cup cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar
2-4 Tbsp milk
Preheat the oven to 400 deg. F. Place the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
Cut the vanilla bean into 2 pieces, approximately 2/3 and 1/3.
In a food processor combine the flour, sugar, zest, baking powder and salt. Scrape the seeds from the larger vanilla bean piece into the processor, reserving the empty bean for making vanilla sugar. Pulse until it’s all combined.
Add the butter to the food processor and pulse until the butter is in pea-sized and smaller pieces.
In a large bowl combine the cream, vanilla, and eggs. Beat to combine thoroughly. Dump the flour mixture into the bowl and stir, just until the flour is incorporated. Stirring too much will result in tough scones.
Divide dough in half. Pat each half into a 6-inch circle. Cut each circle into 8 equal pieces (triangles). Place the pieces on two ungreased baking sheets.
Bake for 15 - 18 minutes, rotating the racks midway through baking. The scones should be light brown on top.
Let the scones cool on the sheets for 30 minutes, then paint with the glaze. A silicone basting brush is ideal for this job.
To make the glaze, combine the powdered sugar, milk, and the seeds scraped out of the smaller piece of vanilla bean. You can adjust the consistency of the glaze to your liking. A watery glaze will give just a shimmer of sugar to the outside. If you like a more substantial glaze (like the Bigbuck’s scones), make it as thick as white glue.
This recipe can easily be halved, or, when you’ve gotten your scones cut and onto the baking sheets, put one in the oven and one in the freezer. Let the unbaked scones freeze for about 30 minutes, then wrap them in plastic wrap and put them into a ziploc bag. To bake, unwrap them and place on a baking sheet, increasing the baking time slightly.
* If you don't have vanilla sugar on hand, make these with plain granulated sugar. Then save the scraped out bean seeds. Put them in a jar and cover them with granulated sugar. Let this sit for a week or so and you'll have lovely, fragrant vanilla sugar to stir into your coffee, sprinkle on your muffins, or to make more Triple Vanilla Scones!