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.
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.
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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