What’s one of the best things you can make for Mom on Mother’s Day? I’m thinking that Lemon Ricotta Poppy Seed Scones should be somewhere on that list.
Then again, I think a scone of any kind should be on the list…just my personal opinion. You know, in case anyone in my house is reading this and wants to make Mother’s Day extra special ;)
When I thought about what I might make for this week’s post, I had considered some type of layer cake. Layer cakes are certainly a nice thing to make for Mom…
And, hey, if you’re up for baking Mom a cake this year, you could make this fabulous Strawberry Cake. Or, you could go homey and rustic with this chocolate cake. Oh, and then there’s Italian Cream Cake or Pineapple Upside Down Cheesecake Cake.
My family made that upside down cheesecake cake for me for my birthday one year. It was absolutely delicious!
But, I wasn’t really feeling the layer cake. Maybe it’s because I’ve been developing a couple of cakes that just haven’t gotten quite to where I want them yet.
Which means my freezer is basically filling up with tests of cake and my house is full of people who are over it.
And then I thought about making some type of pancake… you know, do the whole breakfast in bed thing. I suppose these scones could have been pancakes. I’d use the same flavors but in pancake form.
The truth is, I love scones. And when I was thinking about the whole lemon ricotta poppy seed direction, I really wanted it to be a scone. I want it to be a pancake too, but I’ll save that for another day.
Scones are great because they aren’t just for breakfast. They’re perfect all day long. Breakfast, brunch, afternoon tea, snack, dessert…I swear you could eat my Blackberry Fontina Scones for lunch. They are that hearty.
The reason I’ve been wanting to make Lemon Ricotta Poppy Seed Scones is because my Chocolate Chip Ricotta Cannoli Scones were soooooo goooood! I just couldn’t wait to make a new version.
Most of my scones use butter and cream. In these scones, ricotta cheese takes the place of cream. And for those of you who love ricotta cheese, you know that it pretty much makes anything sweet or savory, so much better :)
There are lots of different ricotta cheeses out there. And, like pureed pumpkin, some are more watery than others, which can really mess with a recipe. If you find your ricotta is really wet, just measure the amount you need and place it in a strainer to drain. I like to use Belgioiso.
I’ve been playing around with the right amount of ricotta to use in a scone recipe. For the Chocolate Chip Ricotta Cannoli Scones, I used 3/4 cup. For this recipe, I used 1 cup.
The lower amount will give you a slightly denser scone. The higher amount adds more “fluff” to the texture. I include this in the recipe notes if you want to play around a little.
(I’d probably stick with the 3/4 cup measurement if you have really wet ricotta. This will help guard against too much moisture being added to the scone.)
I think I might like the lower amount better, but trust me, both will be good. It’s really just a matter of preference.
I always like to mention this about my scones…you might feel like there isn’t enough moisture once you add the wet ingredients to the dry. You’ll see from my photos that it will all come together. And the scones won’t be dry. Trust me. There’s enough fat in there to keep them moist.
Now…about the lemons… In this recipe, there’s lemon zest in the scone dough and lemon juice in the glaze. There is no choice here except to use fresh lemons. Do not use lemon juice out of a bottle. I forbid it.
However, if you have lemon juice powder, I’m totally fine with that, though you’ll have to play around with how much to use. I’d probably put at least a Tablespoon in the dough and see how that works out before making adjustments the next time around.
If you use the powder in the glaze, you can just add what you want to taste, but you’ll be using water (or milk, if you prefer) as the liquid.
I chose to use fresh lemons. The lemon zest in the dough adds a mild hit of lemon flavor. You can add more if you want to increase that hit. The glaze is definitely more assertive. I love both and think they work well together.
As far as cutting the scones? You really can cut them any way you want to. I’m pretty much a fan of one roll, one cut.
I don’t like to re-roll scraps and cut again. So, unless I need a specific shape for something, I either form a large square or smaller discs. Then, I only cut once. No re-rolling or reforming the dough. One and done.
I wanted these Lemon Ricotta Poppy Seed Scones to be a little smaller, so I went with four discs and planned to cut each disc into 4 pieces for a total of 16 scones.
In retrospect, I think I might have liked cutting them into 6 pieces, making an even smaller scone for a total of 24 scones. If I were making them for a group, I’d probably go that route.
In any case, you can cut them large or cut them small, simply adjust your baking time as necessary. Smaller scones will bake a bit faster. I just keep an eye on them and take them out as soon as I see that they are fully set up and beginning to lightly brown around the edges.
Let’s talk about glaze. You can make a thicker icing or a thinner glaze. I often make a thicker icing and then put it in a plastic zip top bag with a corner cut off. Then, I just drizzle it randomly, or in neat swirls or stripes.
Today, however, I wanted a thin glaze that would transparently coat the entire top and drip down the sides. The difference between the thick and thin is simply the amount of lemon juice you add. Again, it’s all about preference.
One thing about a thin glaze, you can coat the entire scone, if you wish. I would probably double the recipe for that application. Then, you can just drop the scone into the glaze, flip it over to coat both sides, let the excess drip back into the bowl, then set the dipped scone on a rack to dry.
I think these Lemon Ricotta Poppy Seed Scones are best on the day you make them. If you do have some left over for the next day, I like to put them in the toaster oven to freshen them up.
Of course, if I know I’m going to have left overs, then I’d probably leave the extras unglazed so that it doesn’t melt when I toast the scones.
That being said, you can’t always know, so I have actually toasted a glazed one. I don’t think it’s ideal, but I’ve never had anyone turn one down. I guess it’s sort of like a hot glazed donut. Nothing wrong with that.
So, layer cake or scones for Mother’s Day? What the heck! I think we deserve…
Lemon Ricotta Poppy Seed Scones
For the scones:
- 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter cold and cut into small pieces
- 2 Tablespoons poppy seeds
- 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 cup full fat ricotta cheese
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
For the lemon glaze:
- 1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
- 2-5 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Make the scones:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it is in various sizes no larger than peas. Add the poppy seeds and lemon zest and stir to distribute evenly.
In a small bowl, whisk together the ricotta cheese, egg and vanilla until fully combined. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour the cheese mixture into it. Gently bring the edges of the flour mixture up and over the cheese mixture with a large spoon, turning the bowl each time. Basically, you're just bringing the dry outsides up and over the wet center. Continue to mix in this fashion until there are no dry bits of flour in the bottom of the bowl.
- Using your hands, squeeze the dough together until you can bring it together into a ball. Do not over mix at this point or you'll end up with scones that are too dense. Just bring it together into a cohesive ball. We still want bits of butter visible in the dough. They'll help the scone puff up when it bakes.
Cut the ball of dough into 4 equal parts. Place a sheet of plastic wrap on your work surface. Take one quarter of the dough and form it into a round disk, about 4" wide and 3/4" thick. Wrap the disk in the plastic. Place another sheet of plastic wrap on your work surface and repeat making disks with the balance of the dough until you have four disks wrapped in plastic wrap. Arrange the disks on a small cookie sheet or other flat surface and put it in the freezer for about 30-45 minutes, or until dough is firm.
While the dough is chilling, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Remove dough from freezer, unwrap and using a sharp knife, cut each disk into 4 wedges. (See photos in blog post.)
Place each scone at least 2" apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until scones have risen and edges are lightly golden. (Take care not to over bake or you'll risk having drier scones.) Remove from oven and allow to cool on baking sheet for 5-10 minutes before transferring to a rack to finish cooling.
Make the lemon glaze:
Place the confectioner's sugar into a small mixing bowl. Add lemon juice, a small spoonful at a time, stirring after each addition, until you reach your desired glaze consistency. Dip or drizzle each scone with the glaze and set aside to dry. (Or, you could serve immediately)
*Measure your flour correctly! Fluff it to aerate it. Spoon lightly into your measuring cup and then level it by sweeping a flat edge across the top of the cup.
*I went with a very thin glaze and dipped each scone in the glaze to fully coat the tops. I made just enough glaze to do that. If you'd like a more generous amount of glaze, start with 2 cups of confectioner's sugar. You can also add less lemon juice and make a thicker glaze and either drizzle or fully coat the tops.
*If you want to completely coat the scones with the glaze, (top and bottom) double the glaze recipe.
*Fresh lemons are mandatory here. Remember to zest the lemons before you juice them. I used about 3 small lemons.
*As always, you can cut your scones however you choose. I opted for smaller scones but you can check out all of my scone recipes in the index to see the different ways I cut them. Larger scones might take a couple of extra minutes to bake.
*If your ricotta is very wet, you might want to place it in a strainer for a bit to take out some of the moisture. You can also vary the amount of ricotta used. For a denser scone, use 3/4 cup. The 1 cup measure yields a slightly fluffier scone. If you're worried about a super wet ricotta, I would stick with the 3/4 cup measurement.
*These particular scones are really best on the first day. If you have leftovers, store them lightly covered at room temperature. The next day, toasting them can help revive them. Also, if you know you're going to have leftovers, you could also only glaze the ones you're going to eat. Store the balance of the glaze in the refrigerator in an airtight container. When you're ready to use it, stir it, adding a bit of water (or lemon juice if you have leftover) to loosen it up to your desired consistency again.
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