Warm Cherry-Walnut Scones with Lemon Curd.
My husband is social...to put it mildly. Always on the phone, making plans, inviting people over. Rewind--inviting people over SHORT NOTICE.
I've decided this is actually a good thing for me. Prone to being a bit of a hermit; if I hadn't married someone so people-oriented, I might very well have ended up in a mountain cabin somewhere...with my nose in a book. Or better yet, quietly cooking away...then eating it ALL myself! My husband brings out my friendly side!
Being a planner, I've set up some ground rules for his habitual-inviting, in order to keep little wifey happy.
Ground Rule #1- The dog hair must be swept up before guests enter my house. Big hairy dog, hardwood floors. Enough said!
Ground Rule #2- There must be pre-existing food in the fridge or pantry. The thought of loading the kids in the car and making a mad dash to the grocery store, give me hives! Clearly, these two stipulations are reasonable...aren't they?
We have friends over for dinner often, and almost as often I find myself serving brunch. I decided some time ago it would be wise to stay prepared for this. Nowadays, I always have bacon in the freezer as well as frozen southern-style hash browns, for quicky casseroles, scrambles, and hash. Eggs, butter, cheese and all dried baking ingredients are must haves to be prepared for the impromptu breakfast or brunch. As long as the kitchen is continually stocked with these items, hubby can invite 'til his heart's content...and we both enjoy our guests!
"Quick bread" items like biscuits, muffins and scones are a nice touch for a brunch. They look like they take more time and effort than they really do. When guests think you've "fussed" over them, they tend to feel extra special!
There are two distinct varieties of scones. The first being the original English scone. Biscuit-like, slightly sweet, light and flaky. These scones are meant to be eaten leisurely with jam, clotted cheese, or curd. American scones however, are meant to be eaten dry...as one races out the coffeehouse door, loaded down with laptop, cellphone, and a grande triple-shot soy latte. American scones are much heavier and sweeter than their predecessors, with a cake-like texture and added ingredients for flavor. When I make scones, I like to combine the best of both. Biscuit-like and slightly sweet, but with the added flavor of the American variety.
Another pantry item you might want to consider keeping around for the spontaneous brunch is lemon curd. It's not terribly hard to make, but not something I want to mess with on short notice! Personally, I could eat a jar of lemon curd with a spoon. But here I've served it with warm, flaky cherry-walnut scones...incredible!
Cherry-Walnut Scones with Lemon Curd
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tb. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
1/3 cup sugar
6 Tb. cold unsalted butter, cubed
¾ cup cold milk or cream
1/3 cup dried tart cherries
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 jar of lemon curd
*The two most important things to remember about making scones are: Don't overwork the dough--it makes the scones tough. Second, work fast so the dough is cold when it goes in the oven, if you get a phone call while you're making these and can't multi-task...put the mixing bowl in the fridge until you're done!
Preheat the oven to 450*. In your electric mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Turn on the mixer for 30 seconds to stir. Chop the cold butter into cubes, and add it to the dry mixture.
Mix on low until the butter is cut into pea-sized pieces. (You could also do this with a hand-pastry cutter or a food processor.) Add the milk, and mix until just combined. Stir in the cherries and walnuts. Quickly dump the dough onto a floured work surface.
Roll or hand press the dough into a 1 1/4 inch thick square. Using a floured knife, cut the dough into quarters, then cut each quarter in half—making 8 large triangles. You could cut each triangle in half again to make mini scones.
Place them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Brush them with milk and bake immediately for 10 minutes. (You could put the cookie sheet in the fridge if you want to bake them later.)
Serve warm or room temperature, slathered with lemon curd!
*Using milk makes an English biscuit-like fluffy scone, cream creates a denser, richer, cake-like American scone. I used milk, but it’s a preference thing!
Makes 8 large (Starbucks-sized) scones or 16 minis.