Some rather grandiose dreams spring to life from the enjoyment of a single morsel. At least, that’s how it works in this odd little brain of mine. One really good bite and an aspiring career is launched, imaginary restaurants are born, and desired franchises are launched.
Maybe you experience magical thinking, too?
It starts with a recipe and technique. You’ve worked on perfecting a particular food item for a long while and then, after much effort, art and science come together and make magic on the plate.
You regard what you created. You feel satisfied and proud. (And maybe a little bit hungry.) You take a bite. Your senses sparkle with excitement. Your mouth enlivens with activity. Neurons fire with glee.
Then, maybe a few moments later, someone across from you–a loved one or a cherished friend who joins you in this special meal–remarks “wow, this is really good.” Your beloved might continue and say something that stokes the fires of imagination even more with something inflammatory like the words “this is restaurant quality,” or “I’d pay good money for this.”
And then that’s it. Your pride rallies. Your over-active imagination kicks into high gear.
You picture the scenarios: you’ll start your own business, open a little bakery or a restaurant, begin a little catering company, quit your job, and do this thing you love so much for a living. You’ll cook, inspire, and change lives with a perfect scone, a great sandwich, a mouth watering steak, the perfect poached egg or an extraordinary dessert.
In just milliseconds, the story you’ll tell the kids about how our little business started with a simple idea or how we own three successful restaurants, or the yarn about how we had no idea we were going to build an empire when we baked that first great scone starts banging around that mind of yours. Or, if you’ve had a couple cups of coffee already, you might even envision camera crews, Food Network deals, book signings, iPad apps, and bobble heads in your future.
Or, maybe not. Not everyone is hard-wired for leaps of imagination, like me. (For your sake, I hope you don’t struggle with untethered imagination. Such things are dangerous for the over-eager.)
Perhaps for you, triumphs in the kitchen only inspire a small smile or a tiny victory dance. Maybe you are soothed by great moments in the kitchen. A perfect bite might bring you to a serene place where pride swells and doesn’t threaten to unhinge you for a brief, imaginary moment. Perhaps you taste something truly great and spreadsheets and mathematical equations dance circles around your head. Who knows. I’d love to know what happens for you.
In the meantime, I share with you this updated recipe for a really great cranberry and orange scone. If you’re keeping track, this isn’t the first recipe I’ve put here on this blog. But for the record, this one is the best one yet.
The best part about this updated scone recipe is the baking and cutting technique. Make one really big scone and then cut it up like a pie. You’ll find you’ll have less waste and a much more uniformed presentation.
Magical Thinking Scones (AKA Cranberry and Orange Zest Scones)
makes 8-10 scones
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons organic cane sugar
5 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into chunks
3/4 whipping cream
1 cup dried cranberries
Zest of one orange
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/4 cup turbinado sugar (for sprinkling)
Combine the dry ingredients–flour, baking powder, salt, and organic cane sugar. Pulse the dry ingredients with the butter in a food processor (do in batches if you have a mini-Cuisinart) until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is pea-shaped. Add this to a large mixing bowl and slowly fold in the liquid, being careful not to overwork the dough. Fold in the dried cranberries and orange zest.
Form a large mound of dough and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Press down the mound to create one big round (3/4 inches or 1” high). Using a pastry brush, cover the round with melted butter. Sprinkle the round with the turbinado sugar.
Bake in a 400 degree oven for 17-20 minutes, or until the top has just begun to turn a golden brown.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a rack, then slice the round into even, triangular slices. Serve immediately.