This past Christmas I got a lovely baker’s spice set from my cousin Barb and her family that included vanilla sugar. I’d first heard of vanilla sugar in the wonderful book Miriam’s Kitchen: A Memoir by Elizabeth Ehrlich, a writer who blended tales of her Jewish grandmothers, mother, and mother-in-law with her own foray into kosher living. One of Miriam’s recipes included vanilla sugar, which she bought in packets from her local grocery shop in the Bronx.
My vanilla sugar came in a bottle from Penzys, and together with some vanilla bean paste, made a delightfully tender scone. This makes a small batch, just eight wedges about 3 inches long, but it would be easy to double. If you don’t have vanilla bean paste, you can just substitute vanilla extract. I actually adapted a chocolate chip scone recipe I published 10 years ago for this, and though it turned out a bit dry, it has wonderful flavor. Nothing a bit of clotted cream or jam wouldn’t fix.
- 1 cup flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons vanilla sugar
- 8 tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes
- 1 egg
- 2 1/4 tablespoons milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, whisk together egg, milk, and vanilla bean paste; set aside. In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, and vanilla sugar. Add butter to the flour mixture, and using your hands, rub in the butter until the mixture looks like cake crumbs. Add egg mixture and stir with a fork until the dough comes together – it will be slightly sticky.
With floured hands, gather dough into a ball. Turn onto the parchment-lined baking sheet and flatten into a disc of about one-inch thickness. Cut into eight wedges and, using a small offset spatula, pull the wedges apart so they are not touching.
Bake for 15-18 minutes, until tops are golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 1-2 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. You can also serve scones warm, but do let them cool down for just a few minutes so they’re safe to handle. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 days.