Scones, the quintessential tea cake of the British Isles, are delicate, fluffy biscuits. For the lightest, flakiest scones, freeze the butter and the flour separately before making the dough, and knead them just enough to make the dough smooth. These are spiced with cinnamon, ginger and cloves and studded with crystallized ginger. A decorative drizzle of maple glaze adds just the right touch of sweetness. Served warm with a steaming cup of tea or coffee, it’s easy to see why the British love "taking tea."
Place the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ground ginger, cloves and salt in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times to combine thoroughly. Remove the top of the processor, and scatter the cubes of butter over the flour mixture. Being very careful to avoid the blade of the processor, use a fork to toss the cubes to coat them lightly with flour. Replace the top of the processor, and pulse 12 to 15 times, holding each pulse for one second. The mixture should resemble coarse meal. Add the chopped crystallized ginger, and pulse a few times to mix.
Pour the contents of the processor into a medium mixing bowl, and make a well in the center. Combine the milk, ¼ cup cream, egg, molasses and vanilla in a small bowl (or measuring cup with a pouring spout); whisk to combine thoroughly.
Pour the liquid into the well in the center of the flour mixture, and stir with a fork to form a shaggy dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Knead just until it can be shaped into a smooth ball, about 8 to 10 times; do not over-work, or the scones will be tough.
Divide the dough into two pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball, then press to flatten into a disk, approximately ½-inch thick and 5-inches in diameter. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap, and place in the freezer for 15 minutes (or in the refrigerator for 1 hour).
Use a long, sharp knife to cut each disk into 6 wedges. Brush the tops of the wedges with the remaining heavy cream, and sprinkle each with some of the turbinado sugar. Transfer the wedges to the baking sheet, leaving at least 1½ inches between them.
Bake until the scones are puffed, the edges begin to brown and the tops are golden brown, about 16 to 18 minutes. (Note: An instant-read thermometer should register 200°F when inserted into the center of a scone.) Do not over-bake, as they will continue to cook slightly after they are removed from the oven. Rotate the pan halfway through the cooking time. Remove from the oven, and place the pan on a wire rack to cool.
For the Glaze: Combine the sugar and maple syrup in a small mixing bowl; whisk until smooth. The glaze should be the consistency of very thin icing. If it is too thick, thin with a few drops of warm water. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled scones. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 week (or tightly wrapped in the freezer for up to 2 months).
Makes 12 scones
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