October 01, 2014
Oven temperature. . .we're talking oven temperature here!
I don't bake scones as frequently as I once did--but I think it is a fair to say that I have baked hundreds and hundreds of scones in the last decade or so. So when a friend asked me to bake some scones for her daughter's wedding shower, I figured it was a pretty easy deal. Make the dough up in advance,
and be sure to get up early enough that morning to run them through the oven before we left for the shower.
I ran a batch of 'plain' Original through first, at set my oven to the usual 405 degrees (it has run hot for many years, so this is the setting that gives me 425 degree baking!). Out of the freezer they came, onto a parchment lined double cookie sheet--and into the oven. Set timer for 18 minutes and move on. . .or so I thought.
At 18 minutes, I was horrified to see that they had spread laterally, and had not risen as much as I had anticipated. The bottoms of the scones were suspiciously white, and there were big puddles of butter around each scone. NOT the norm by any means!
I started second guessing everything--how I made the dough (the same way I make all my batches of dough), and then really started thinking. I got out the oven thermometer and put it in the oven--and sure enough, my oven was now running at a mere 360 degrees; not nearly hot enough to properly bake scones. A simple adjustment of the settings and the next two batches baked up completely as anticipated, with a nice rise, good color to the baked product, and they baked within the normal baking time--not minutes and minutes longer like the first batch.
If you look carefully--the scone on the right is the one baked at the unexpectedly lower temperature. It is flatter, more spread out, and while it was very tasty, it just didn't have the same lightness of texture or appearance as the scone on the left.
Scones really are a hot, quick bake (same as biscuits, NOT the same as cookies or cakes), and that quick heat is needed to turn that butter into nice steamy air pockets without leaving pools of butter on the cookie sheet.
As for my temperamental oven? I'm told that a faulty igniter (gas oven) is the culprit, and it is scheduled for repair next week.