We recently took a drive to the gorgeous area of Ontario known as Prince Edward County. If you’re like me and you’ve never been to this area, I highly recommend taking the 2 hour (from Toronto) drive. There are over 40 wineries there – I’ll let that sink in. FORTY!
They are all relatively close to one another, too, so hopping along and visiting multiple vineyards in a few hours is completely doable. We also checked out the lavender farm, where I picked up some lavender sugar (and put it to the test in my Lavender Lemon Scones, recipe and review below) and the MUST SEE alpaca farm called Shed. Seriously: Baby Alpacas!! There really is nothing cuter than baby alpaca bums (see photo in slideshow for proof).
My favorite stop of the day was The Old Third Vineyard and Winery. Not only was the wine we sampled delicious, but every inch of the space was so thoughtfully decorated.
I’m so in love with the window along the far wall – at first I thought it was a landscape painting but so was happy to see it was the real deal. No glass, no screen, just fresh air. It’s a brilliant design feature that fits in with the space so beautifully. Imagine being able to do that in your own home! Love.
I’m psyched for September when we’ll go back to Prince Edward County to go Glamping here. If you know me at all you’ll find this fact amusing. My tent apparently has a king bed and a living room though, so I can get on board with that.
So last week I was super excited to bake some scones using the lavender sugar I picked up in Prince Edward County. I love the smell of lavender so much and had never used it in baking so this was new territory for me. I’ll post the recipe below. My conclusion is this, in my husband’s words:
Don’t bake with Lavender…Bake with Chocolate
Don’t get me wrong – this recipe for scones is PERFECTION and you should definitely make them – it’s an excellent base recipe for buttery, flaky scones – with or without the lavender. I’ve learned that I just prefer my lavender in the form of bubbles in the tub.
Speaking of bubbles – the other kind! – I’m feeling inspired to have my next girls’ get together. Scones and champagne? Why not? I believe the Queen approves…
So here’s the trick when making scones – or any pastry, really: Cold, Cold, Cold.
Your butter, cream, eggs, hands – all should be as cold as possible. Think of it this way: the less the butter melts before you put your scones in the oven, the less it will melt out of your scones (into a bloody mess) in the oven.
The other thing you want to remember is to handle the dough as little as possible. The more you handle anything which contains flour, the tougher it will become. Know why? Because when you work the flour, it activates the gluten (which is the protein contained in flour that gives bread its stretchyness – that’s why we knead bread so much). But scones? Definitely don’t want those tough. Light and flaky is where we want to be. So keep your dough handling to a minimum.
Chilling these in the freezer for 20 minutes before we bake them does 2 things – it brings everything back to a nice and cold state, plus it gives the flour you just worked a chance to relax a bit, yielding flaky and beautiful scones.
If you decide to make these sans lavender, add in 1/2 Cup of your desired ingredient (I’m thinking mini Chocolate Chips should make DJ happy) along with the dry ingredients after you’ve cut in the butter.
2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
3. Whisk 3 cups flour and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl.
4. Add butter; cut butter into flour using pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse meal.
5. Whisk 1 cup buttermilk, zest, and vanilla in a small bowl.
6. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Stir until wet is just incorporated, then turn out onto counter - dough may still be dry in spots. You can put a little buttermilk on your hands to knead the dough if you find it too dry.
7. Knead until a dough forms, about 5 turns.
8. Pat into a 10x6" rectangle. Halve dough lengthwise. Cut each half crosswise into 4 squares. Cut each square diagonally in half into 2 triangles. You will have 16 small triangles.
9. Divide between baking sheets. Either bake now or freeze for later. If baking now, chill in the freezer for 20 minutes. This will keep the butter from melting out of the scones in the oven. If freezing for later, wrap tightly. To bake from frozen, remove from freezer while you preheat your oven. Continue with next step.
10. Before baking, brush with 2 tablespoons buttermilk. Sprinkle with sugar.
11. Bake until scones are golden, the bottoms are golden brown, and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 15 minutes but ovens do vary so keep an eye on them. Transfer to wire racks; let cool for 10 minutes.
12. Serve warm or at room temperature. Pair with a selection of butter and jams!
* 3/4 cup granulated sugar
* 1 tablespoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon dried lavender buds
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4" cubes
* 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
* 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 2 tablespoons sanding or granulated sugar