Julia Child highlighted Marion Cunningham’s Buttermilk Scone recipe in Baking with Julia. These scones have become a traditional favorite with my family for special celebrations or Fridays that feel like the weekend. Here is what I bake now, inspired her perfectly tender and delicious, original recipe.
Buttermilk Scones with Lemon and Flax
2 3/4 cups unbleached four
1/4 cup flax seed meal
1/3 cup evaporated cane juice (or other natural sugar)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (aluminum free)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
6 ounces or 1 1/2 sticks of very cold unsalted butter cut into cubes
1 cup (approximately) buttermilk
zest of one lemon, chopped fine
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and place the racks in the middle.
Combine the flour, flax seed meal, evaporated cane juice, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest in a mixing bowl. Stir to combine. Add the cold butter and stir so that the flour begins to cling to the butter. Now begin to incorporate the butter into the flour by pressing and squeezing the butter with your fingertips. When the butter is well combined it will look like course cornmeal with a few pea sized chunks of butter remaining.
Now pour in one cup of buttermilk and gently stir with a fork to begin to combine the dough. When combined correctly the dough will have a rough look. Depending on humidity, you may need a bit more or less buttermilk. You just want the dough to hold together nicely. Turn this dough onto a floured board and gently press together so that the dough holds together in a ball. Knead the dough only briefly, less than a dozen turns, just until it becomes smooth. Cut this dough in half.
Shape the first piece of dough into a circle of about 7 inches across and a 1/2 inch thick. Cut through your circle like a pie until you have 6 triangle shaped scones. Repeat this with the other piece of dough. Place your scones onto a ungreased cookie sheet. You may brush the tops with melted butter before baking if you like.
Bake the scones for about 6 minutes and then turn the cookie sheet and bake another 5-6 minutes for even browning. When the scones are just turning brown on the tops and edges, remove them and transfer to a cooling rack. Serve these with butter, lemon curd, Devonshire or clotted cream, or jam.