The Power of Flour and Zest

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This is all about using the right ingredients, the right tools, and the right techniques…

I love scones. They have a reputation for being tricky to make, but over the holidays I saw a recipe online for lemon cream scones, and I decided to give it a try. Online photos looked scrumptious. My results were dry and not very lemony. Where did I go wrong? Back to the internet.

First, I used too much flour. I have 3 Pyrex measuring cups that I bought when I moved into my own place in 1974. I later inherited 3 identical ones from my mother. These are the only measuring cups either of us ever used for anything. Turns out they are intended for wet ingredients, NOT dry ones. I needed a set of measuring cups that look more like great big spoons.

To measure flour correctly, spoon flour into the cup until it’s extra full, and then draw a knife across the top to scrape off any extra. Don’t scoop flour out of the bag with the cup – that will pack it down.

Second, I worked the dough too much. You need to mix butter into the flour with as little effort as possible. Here’s a trick – freeze a cube of butter and grate it into the dry ingredients. Then it will only take a few seconds to stir everything together.

Third lesson is the most important. Citrus zest is AMAZING. says “When you want to add a zingy, sweet citrus flavor to food, the juice is good, but the zest is even better. It has natural oils that will impart way more flavor than you’ll get from juicing”.

You can’t make zest with a cheese grater, so I bought a microplane. It looks kind of like a woodworking file. In less than a minute I had a couple of tablespoons of light and airy lemon zest that would literally vanish into my scones.

Now I am the queen of scones! Below are links to my 3 favorite recipes. The orange glazed cranberry scones are to die for…

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