Mary, Chef Jay's wife, has always loved to bake but it wasn't until she discovered Once Upon a Tart, a cookbook written by Frank Mentesana and Jerome Audureau (with Carolynn Carreno) that she got pretty confident about the whole process. If you don't have this cookbook, go to Amazon NOW and getting a copy. Don't just use the recipes. Read the inspirational story about these two guys who worked together in management for a big hotel chain and threw caution, and security, to the wind to open up Once Upon a Tart on a block in SoHo that, at the time, was a row of tenement apartments. As the book describes, on the street level below the apartments there was "a dark little bodega and an Italian cheese shop"...and on the other side of the street,..."was a Catholic church; a sawdust-on-the-floor butcher; a new, cute little French restaurant; a Laudromat and an abandon storefront with a lot of potential." The book is such a great story about two guys who saw an opportunity in an emerging Manhattan neighborhood and brought delicious food... and good coffee to a community that believed in what the neighborhood could...and did...become. Scones were the answer to the walk-in crowd while tarts were the basis for the wholesale business that justified Once Upon a Tart's existence. No need to hop on a plane to NY (although if you go there, do visit the shop!)...Here's our favorite scone recipe from the cookbook with step by step photos. BUT before we get into the recipe, there's something very special about the photos that take you through the steps of making the perfect berry scone...it's the bowls.
We believe there's nothing more inspiring than preparing...and eating our food with bowls and plates that reflect the art we're creating. The beautiful ceramic ware we use for this recipe are from the Irving Place Studios line, the creation of octogenarian ceramicist Dora De Larios and her daughter, Sabrina Judge and Sabrina's husband, Aaron Glascock . The tableware is found in a few select L.A. restaurants (Otium for one) but can be custom ordered by those who believe that WHAT you eat is just as enjoyable as what you prepare it IN eat it ON. So let's do scones...Once Upon a Tart and Irving Place Studios style!:
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter cut into 1/4 inch cubes
2 large eggs
3/4 cup cold buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon raspberry preserves
1/2 cup dried currants
3/4 cup blueberries, rinsed and dried on paper towels
2/3 cup raspberries, rinsed and dried on paper towels
When rinsing berries, do it just before you're ready to use them under a gentle stream of water. Then spread them on a sheet pan lined with a towel or paper towels. To maximize drying time, don't have berries touching.
Start by positioning the oven rack so one is in the center and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix the dry ingredients together with a wire whisk (the recipe says use a food processor with a metal blade and pulse to mix--Mary likes the old fashioned way). Add the butter to the dry ingredients and use a pastry cutter to cut in the dry ingredients until the mixture looks grainy, like moist little crumbs. (the recipe says run the food processor for 15 seconds then use pulses). Either way you do it, don't let the butter and flour completely come together into something that looks like dough or paste. Dump those moist crumbs into a big bowl--or, if you are doing this by hand, you're already there. Then in a separate bowl, whisk the eggs to break up the yolks. Whisk in the buttermilk and extracts to the eggs. Use the whisk to stir in the preserves and currants. Pour the wet ingredients on top of the flour mixture. Stir them together with a wooden spoon until there's just a slight amount of flour visible. Add the berries and stir gently, being careful not to mash the berries any more than is inevitable, until there is no trace of flour left (Mary likes to put on food handler gloves and gently fold the berries into the dough by hand). Use a 1/2- cup measuring cup to scoop the batter out and plop it on the baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between the scones. Place the baking sheet on the center rack in the oven, and bake the scones for 18 minutes then turn sheet pan in oven so front faces back and cook for 2 more minutes or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick or small knife inserted into the center of a scone comes out clean. Another test for doneness is when you distinctly smell the scones baking--if they are getting golden brown, you can probably take them out of the oven. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool for a few minutes. Move the baking sheet off the rack, and use a metal spatula to transfer the scones from the baking sheet to the rack, or directly to whatever dish or basket you're serving the scones from. Serve fresh out of the oven or at room temperature. The photos below give you a look at the process and show you the desired qualities you want to achieve with the dough and the baking. Even if it's not summer, you can find a variety of fresh or dried fruit to use for this recipe--the results are light, moist, delicious scones every time! Click on the photo below to scroll through the gallery.