The first memorable scone I had was at afternoon tea at the Four Seasons.
My coworkers had thrown me the most lovely wedding shower at our offices. It was an afternoon tea theme and they went all out, taking over not only a large conference room, but the lobby foyer as well to create the special event. This location was also a bit tricky since they had to keep me away from an entire side of the office building for fear I would ruin the surprise. It was quite grand by office shower standards; what else might you expect from teams of merchants, designers and product developers? They were very skilled at creating a vision and executing it beautifully. (I had such a great team!)
One of the gifts I received that day was a gift certificate for afternoon tea at the Four Seasons. My husband and I enjoyed that gift quite thoroughly one Valentine’s Day weekend as we sipped champagne, sampled exotic teas and nibbled on sandwiches and sweet treats. (I realize the word “nibble” creates this vision of restraint…and while we ended up taking quite a bit home with us, I will admit that neither of us was hungry again until the following day.) I remember the scones being buttery and tender. They were so good with the Devonshire cream and lemon curd that was served with them. I asked if I could get the recipe, but to no avail. And thus the search for the perfect scone recipe commenced.
Scones started to gain quite a bit of popularity in the following years and everyone seemed to have their own favorite coffee shop scone. Many complained about dry scones, which I’ve luckily been able to avoid most of the time. I came to love a dense, buttery scone and my favorite, easily accessible scone, was Panera’s cinnamon scone. I had tried many scone recipes and most of them were quite good, but none had that dense, almost shortbread like richness that was tender and melted in your mouth. Many of them were more fluffy…still good, but to me, more like a biscuit and less like the scone I was after. I kept searching the internet and my cookbook library for a “dense buttery scone.” None of them were dense enough…and while dense is hardly a pretty word to describe a scone, it was the best description I could offer.
What I learned is that I was looking for a “short scone” or a scone that had a higher ratio of butter to flour (I suppose that’s why shortbread is named as it is.) The short scone recipes I found were good, but not “short” enough for me :)
It took two years of research and trials (it takes that long because you can only make, eat and give away so many scones in a given time frame before everyone involved starts rebelling, so pacing is necessary…) before I came up with what is now my favorite short scone recipe. I tried different milks, different ratios of liquid, with an egg and without, with just an egg yolk and with different ratios of butter to flour. I’m glad I finally figured it out because Panera has changed their cinnamon scone recipe and drenched it in a heavy dose of sugary glaze. I’m not fond of the new scone, but I’ve heard it’s selling 10 times better than the original, so I don’t expect it will ever switch back. But this recipe, yes these are currently My Favorite Cinnamon Scones.
Because I love scones so much, I will be sharing other favorite scone recipes in the future. But this is the one I labored over (and will likely still continue to tweak.) It’s buttery and tender and decadent and rich and worthy of a fancy afternoon tea.
It’s been more than a few years since I had that scone at the Four Seasons. I need to get back to see if
their scone still measures up ;)