Grad Student/Post-doc eating in style: scones!

Anyone who follows Sci's twitter feed (you can grab it in the upper right of the blog! Is that a cute feature or what!) will know that Sci LOVES her scones. And cake. And cupcakes. And croissants. Basically, I love baked goods. They are made of awesome and win. I was listening to a podcast on what makes us human the other day, and they were going through things like the rapid propagation of new ideas coupled with creativity coupled with language and fire and other stuff. Sci has given a lot of (very amateur) thought to this herself. But at the time, I was hungry, and my main thought was "well DUH, only humans can BAKE!"

And really, scones might be a cute thing to represent the best of human evolution. They are so...civilized. And so delicious. And so portable. They are the perfect mixture of sweet and crumbly, and go wonderfully with tea OR coffee. Also they are delicious. Did I mention delicious?

Anyway, a few days ago Sci decided to develop the scone. I started out on this recipe, replicated below, and made some of my own modifications.



* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/3 cup sugar
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
* 1/2 cup raisins (or dried currants)
* 1/2 cup sour cream
* 1 large egg


1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Grate butter into flour mixture on the large holes of a box grater; use your fingers to work in butter (mixture should resemble coarse meal), then stir in raisins. (THIS IS THE KEY! My scones always came out lumpy and weird prior to this. It's AMAZING.)

3. In a small bowl, whisk sour cream and egg until smooth.

4. Using a fork, stir sour cream mixture into flour mixture until large dough clumps form. Use your hands to press the dough against the bowl into a ball. (The dough will be sticky in places, and there may not seem to be enough liquid at first, but as you press, the dough will come together.)

5. Place on a lightly floured surface and pat into a 7- to 8-inch circle about 3/4-inch thick. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tsp. of sugar. Use a sharp knife to cut into 8 triangles; place on a cookie sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper), about 1 inch apart. Bake until golden, about 15 to 17 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.

Sci's modifications

First off, I don't like raisins or currents. Bleh. So my first batch was blueberry. I subbed in 1/2 cup fresh blueberries (the recipe says dried, I saw screw that nonsense). Results: delicious, and a bit more moist than I think they would be otherwise.

Secondly, I always use whole grain flour. This is a matter of preference and you certainly don't have to. I happen to like whole grain better is all. IF you use whole grain, you will need a little extra moisture. I used a little extra sour cream, and, where necessary, a dab of water (like a tablespoon).

Thirdly, I tried for the cherry/almond modification they mention in the link for a second batch. Add 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract, and sub in 1/2 cup dried cherries. Next time, I'm going fresh cherries. You could also do vanilla with this if you wanted.

Finally, my piece de resistance: Cinnamon chocolate chip. Oh yes. I used 1 teaspoon cinnamon and about 1/2 cup of chocolate chips (ok, it was 3/4 of a cup, but I bet you'd go overboard too!). Result: BRILLIANT!!!! Best scones ever. Maybe a little more cinnamon next time (like two teaspoons).

Price breakdown for the hungry grad student:

Flour: $2.99
Eggs: $2.00
Baking powder: $1.70
Baking soda: $1.00 (this is on the high side for a small box, put the rest in your fridge to ward off odors)
Sour cream: $2.00
Salt: $0.89 for a large one (if you don't have some of this around, I cannot help you)
Butter (you need a whole stick,, unsalted): $4.75
Chocolate chips (probably the cheapest): $3.85
Cinnamon: $1.29

Total cost: $20.47. But these ingredients will make at least four batches before the butter runs out and you have to make more, so that's roughly a little over $5 per batch, and each batch makes 8. That's one scone per day at less than $1 a day. That is grad student WIN right there.

32 scones for $20.47. Beat that, Starbucks!

And if you like a morning scone on your way to class or lab with your coffee, these are perfect. Nothing to get you going better than the smell of a fresh scone and coffee.

230 Calories.

And a note to students: make your own coffee!!! DO THIS!! That $2 every morning is $60 a month you could be spending on other things like beer or wireless internet. $60 a month for a cup every morning from Starbucks vs $5 for a pile of Folgers and $2 for some coffee filters? No competition. With savings like that you could afford better coffee. And more of it. If you can, you can get a coffee pot in the lab or office and have people contribute. Trust Sci, and save your Starbucks run for test days (hey, Pumpkin Spice lattes are both delicious and lucky. I swear).

9 responses so far

  • bsci says:

    Cool recipe. If you are not already overstocked with cookbooks, you might like this one:
    They have some really nice variations on scones and other baked goods and the recipes are very readable.

    • peggy says:

      Whenever I'm visiting Berkeley I make a point of stopping at the Cheese Board because their baked goods (and of course their cheese selection) are awesome.

      * adds yet another cookbook to her Amazon wishlist *

      Biscotti are also pretty easy to make and much cheaper home-baked than Starbucks-purchased.

  • Yoder says:

    Grating the butter is a BRILLIANT idea. I'll have to try that with my next batch of cookies. Or maybe these scones. Criminy, I'm going to gain weight during marathon training.

  • leigh says:

    like beer and wireless internet, indeed. hahahaha.

  • FiSH says:

    Sci, you left out the best part of scones - the clotted cream! I wouldn't recommend it on a daily basis unless your own personal genetics makes you impervious to heart disease, but it will make you believe that there must be an all-omnipotent God and that she loves you (I can't help but envisaging Alanis Morissette just now). To paraphrase BF "Clotted cream is evidence that God loves us and wants us to be happy".

  • jc says:

    looks like I'm making a grocery trip for sour cream later.

  • Miles says:

    Ugh, no Folder's please. Even with the good coffee it's much cheaper to make it yourself. Especially if you buy at a bulk rate store.

  • SGC says:

    I made the chocolate chip cinnamon ones the other day with vanilla yogurt instead of sour cream (poor graduate student, haven't gone grocery shopping in FOREVER). They were FANTASTIC!!!!

    Thanks for the recipe!

  • [...] sure you all know how much Sci loves her baked goods. For those who don’t know yet, check out my scone recipe! People who have tried it (n=5 at last count) all say it’s tasty. Go [...]

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