14 September 2013

Puyallup Fair Scones

September is the month where harvest festivals, hay rides and state fairs abound.  As temperatures relax and cool evenings sneak up on us, you throw an extra blanket on your bed and are finally able to wear all your cute coats into work again.  Thank goodness.  I love the crispness of fall - the apples, the weather, the crunchy orange leaves - all of these things make it my very favorite season.  Growing up, the September event I looked forward to more than anything was the Puyallup Fair, now the Washington State Fair.  (Everyone stop and try to pronounce "Puyallup"....very good!)  My grandparents lived about two blocks from the fairgrounds, and every year we were there like freckles on a red-head (I'm allowed to say that cuz I'm a ginger).  Three things were required every year:  a thorough perusal of Hobby Hall, at least an hour in the stables staring longingly at all the horses, and Fisher's Scones.  Ahhhh....the scones.

These delectable, flaky pastries are the reason my mom went the fair.  When we were too cool for the fair in high school, we would buy tickets just to go in, buy three dozen scones and go home.  And no, I am not exaggerating...three dozen.  These are not just any scones.  In the depths of one of the grand stadiums is a triangular little room filled with dozens of grannies in little red aprons, baking, buttering and jamming the scones to pass out piping hot in individual paper bags.  I can still remember them gabbing away merrily while my brothers and I bickered over who loveed the scones more.  We'd eat about a dozen immediately, another dozen over the day or two and freeze the final dozen to enjoy throughout the month (which never exactly panned out, as we always ended up making another trip for more scones).

In college, my girlfriends and I would take weekend road trips to the fair and buy scones.  But living in Ohio, I just can't justify a 6-day road trip for baked goods (sorry grannies).  Next weekend, I'm heading back to Washington for my best friend's wedding, meaning the pastries are within my reach!  I don't know which I'm more excited about, being a bridesmaid or eating a Fisher Scone (love you, Saundie!)  The wait has been killing me, so I decided to cheat a bit and make my mormor's faux-Fisher Scone recipe.

This is my go-to tide-me-through-September pastry.  My mother has a recipe card with my grandma's looping cursive-ish print scrawled across the front, the handwriting that warms my heart and always makes me smile.  If you Google Fisher Scones, you can find her recipe all over the internet, so this post is not the most original of recipes.  Rather, this is a post of nostalgia, longing and love for the memories of my darling mormor - her laughter, her home, her heart and her scones.  I'm fortunate to have little cherished relics, like her old butter knife, that I can use every day and in doing so remember her...and love for full fats.

I will tell you up front, these scones are not as good as the Puyallup Fair Fisher Scones.  I think those grannies attended Hogwarts, because they work some wicked magic on those little pastries.  So I gave up trying to perfectly recreate the scones and tweaked them according to my taste buds.  Now you can't go hog-wild healthy with these things; I've tried and ended up with flavorless whole-wheat hockey pucks and artificial-flavored dough balls.  I've modified the original version in only two ways:  1) swapped natural, unsalted butter for the traditional shortening and 2) substituted one cup of whole wheat flour for a little fiber and heart health.  They're still undecorated on top, buttered and filled with raspberry jam.  Yes, raspberry - it MUST be raspberry.  And not that fakey no-sugar added gunk, real raspberry jam with real fruit, real seeds and real pectin.  If you do not agree, I dare you to take it up with one of those grannies.  My money is on them and their hair nets.

These are awesome for breakfast, but honestly the scones are great in other ways, too.  We had some leftovers for lunch today with pulled pork, Peach Sriracha Barbecue Sauce, nectarines and brie for a little scone sammy - darn good.  I like pulling a "mom" and freezing half of the pre-buttered and jammed scones to pull out, warm up for 10 seconds and eat over a few hours weeks.  They're awesome packed in your kid's lunch for a snack (thanks mom!) and great with a hot mug of coffee.  These warm little pastries are a trip back to childhood in the morning, the perfect way to start your day.

Puyallup Fair Scones (makes 8 scones)

  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 c white flour
  • 1 tbs baking powder
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 tbs cold unsalted butter, cut into small tabs 
  • 3/4 c milk (fat free works fine, but 2% is nice for richer flavor)
  • additional unsalted butter, to spread
  • raspberry jam, to spread (yes, RASPBERRY!)
Position your oven rack to the middle position and pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.  

Sift together the whole wheat and white flours, measuring the flour a second time to be sure you don't have too much.  Re-sift the flours with the baking powder, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl.  Add the butter to the dry ingredients.  Using a pasty cutter or fork, cut the butter into the flour until you have pea-sized chunks, then keep cutting until you have small quinoa-sized bits.  Add the milk and mix together with a wooden spoon until just combined - then stop!  Be sure not to over-mix or your scones will be tough.

Turn the batter out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into two equal pieces.  Shape each piece into a disk about a half inch thick, tapering the rim of the disk slightly so the middle is thicker than the edges.  Cut into quarters and place on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 12-13 minutes, until the scones have risen and are barely starting to turn golden on the top edges.  Remove the pan and let the scones cool for a few minutes.  

While the scones are still hot, cut them in half hamburger-style and place a small pat of butter in the middle of each.  By the time you've put the butter in your last scone, it will be soft enough to spread in the first.  Go back over the scones and spread the butter, then fill with 1-2 tablespoons of raspberry jam.  Enjoy hot with a big cup of coffee or tea.  Let scones cool completely before storing in Ziplock bag or air-proof tupperware on the counter for day or two.  If keeping for longer, freeze the scones in the Ziplock bag, removing as much air as possible.  Scones would probably keep for a few months, but have never made it past two weeks in any of my homes.  

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