Wow, where has the summer gone? There’s still a bounty of berries and peaches at the farmer’s markets but autumnal September is just around the corner. I better squeeze as much out of those juicy, slurpy peaches as I can before they’re just a fond memory. These fuzzy tangy fruit are one of the hubby’s faves and when they’re paired with zesty candied-ginger scones and vanilla whipped cream he’s doing the happy dance all the way to the table and no, it’s not pretty. While I can already imagine the skeptical eye twitches out there, I really feel that the candied ginger in this really adds another layer of flavor to a familiar favorite, turning it from the coy girl next door into that exotic beauty who’s come home from university. This drop scone recipe is a transformation of a more labor intensive one that involved cutting in butter, rolling, cursing, resting, and [gasp!] not a single mote of ginger to a ridiculously easy, moist scone that will have your scone hating cousin stealing your plate just like she did your pleather mini-skirt. Actually this scone recipe is so versatile that I even use it as a “drop biscuit” for cobblers too and of course any berries you like would make delicious shortcakes if you’re not a peach fan.
1) How can you tell if a peach is ripe? Smell it–if it looks beautiful but has no peachy smell pass it by cuz you’ll get a bland unpeachy tasting peach. Really ripe peaches can literally be peeled by hand with just your fingers, you can peel the skin off as seen in the picture of the peach wedge above. This is all well and good but how do you tell if the skin is loose at the grocery store without being taken away in handcuffs? Gently push against the skin with your finger in a rubbing movement–the skin should give or roll with your finger. The white peaches in the picture were so ripe that their juices were literally dripping down my forearms while I was slicing them 🙂
2) I’m pretty fast and loose with my ratios when cooking but baking is actually a chemical reaction so measurements are pretty important. Resist the urge to just scoop up your flour with the measuring scoop as you don’t want to pack or compact your ingredients cuz then your ratios will be off usually resulting in a tough, dry dough.
3) It’s easy to over-mix dough cuz you want to make sure it’s uniform but as soon as it’s come together and there’s no pockets of dry materials it’s done. Over-mixing will over-develop the gluten from the flour which can then form a matrix making your dough tough and rubbery. Fine Cooking has a good article on gluten and baked goods.
4) I like to use a bread knife or other serrated blade to get a nice clean cut across the scone as a straight edged knife tends to make the delicate texture crumble from the pressure while it’s cutting.
5) These scones are actually moist enough that you could toast any leftovers (hey, it could happen) in the toaster oven the next day to have crispety shortcake again for breakfast. Yum.
4 ripe, medium-sized peaches (~1.75 lbs)
2 tbsp packed brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp honey
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp candied ginger, coarsely chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
Peel and slice peaches into 1/2 inch wedges and place in a medium-sized bowl. Toss peaches with lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. Add remaining ingredients and mix by gently tossing. I try not to stir them in as ripe peaches are pretty fragile and can bruise easily. Set aside in refrigerator.
Vanilla Whipped Cream
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Whip ingredients together in a large bowl till cream forms stiff peaks but isn’t dense ~ 1-1 1/2 minutes on high mixer setting. Set aside in refrigerator.
Candied Ginger Scones
2 c all-purpose flour
2 tbsp candied ginger, coarsely chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
1/3 c + 1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 c buttermilk, chilled
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg yolk
Preheat oven to 400F.
Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, 1/3 c sugar, salt, and candied ginger in a large mixing bowl–I like to use my stand mixer as the dough tends to get thick toward the end. With mixer on low setting add butter, egg, and buttermilk and mix until dough just comes together. Mix 1 tbsp sugar and 1/8 tsp cinnamon together in a separate small bowl.
Scoop out 1/3-1/2 c dough and drop onto a baking or cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough spacing 2 inches apart–this dough doesn’t spread much with baking. Sprinkle each scone with cinnamon sugar then bake for ~20 minutes till golden and a wooden toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.
Slice scones in half horizontally. Place a scone bottom in a shallow soup bowl or small plate. Top with ~ 1/3 c peach filling then put ~ 2 tbsp of whipping cream on top. Place top of scone on cream and peach filling to make a sandwich. Repeat with remaining scones. Makes 6 servings.