In spring and summer, brunch is practically a team sport for many New Yorkers – one requiring endurance, stamina, and the competitive ability to meet up with friends on a Sunday morning and wait, on average, for 20 to 40 minutes for a table while sleep- and caffeine-deprived. The prize? A bottomless cup of coffee, Bloody Marys and Mimosas, Eggs Bene, and hours of sundry brunchy deliciousness. Admittedly, not a bad payoff.
Surely, there are many tempting brunch deals to be had in the boundless food Mecca of New York City, especially these days, but that’s another post. I’ve been spending these early spring Sundays brunching in. Well, not “in” exactly. I take brunch on my deck, surrounded by my recently planted flower, herb, and vegetable garden, and a wild grapevine that has aggressively wrapped itself around the perimeter and is threatening to take over my entire outdoor space with its many shoots and tendrils and flowering buds.
No matter how simple or elaborate a brunch I prepare, the one thing I always include is some kind of fresh-baked scone. I love scones! And I know there are many crumbly, delicious scones – both sweet and savory – to be had in New York City. I especially like the ones at Once Upon a Tart, Tea & Sympathy (which I lovingly refer to as “Tea & Hostility”), and The City Bakery, to name a few. But the Frugaltopian in me suspects that for the same amount of money I’d spend on a single scone, I could bake several – if not a whole batch – in my own kitchen. And you know what? It’s totally easy and it takes only about 20 minutes from start to finish, thus making it a frugal use of my time, too.
Here’s a new riff on a basic scone recipe that I baked this weekend:
Molasses, Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Scones
Makes 8 scones
2 ½ C unbleached flour
1/4 C brown (or cane) sugar
1 T baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 t salt
5 T butter, cold & sliced
1/2 C buttermilk, milk, or soymilk
2 T molasses
1 T unbleached flour
3 T brown (or cane) sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 T butter, cold, sliced
Preheat oven to 425˚
Combine the dry ingredients for the scones, and then cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter until it gets crumby (or better yet, use a food processor – much quicker). Don’t overwork the dough; it’s important for the butter to stay cold until it gets into the oven. Add the egg and liquids. Mix together. Gather dough. Plop 8 scones down on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the dry ingredients for the topping and cut the butter in (or pulse all ingredients together in the food processor). After the scones have baked for 8 to 10 minutes, slide the baking sheet out of the oven, gently press down the top of each scone with a tablespoon, and then sprinkle the topping mixture over each scone. (Use good aim and try to keep the topping on the scones because otherwise the sugar/butter mixture will burn quickly on the baking sheet.) Slide the scones back into the oven and bake for another 2 to 5 minutes, until you can stick a toothpick into a scone’s center and it comes out clean.
Note: If you can’t finish a whole batch yourself, you can freeze your leftover baked scones and heat them up for breakfast or teatime later.
Summer Dessert Tip: You can also use these scones (with or without the topping) in place of biscuits in a simple strawberry shortcake. Mmm!