Flaky and flavorful scones that taste like carrot cake! Grated carrot, spices and lots of browned butter give these scones excellent flavor. A cream cheese glaze drives that carrot cake flavor home.
Apparently I’ll carrot cake a banana bread and now scones but I still have yet to touch an actual carrot cake recipe. Carrot is my favorite cake so when it happens, it’ll have to be the most perfect carrot cake ever. And I’m just not up to the task quite yet. In the meantime, I got your breakfast/tea & coffee treat!
This recipe is based on these brown butter scones. I didn’t change much but I added a heaping heap of carrots and some carrot cake spices. And nuts! My kids will reject these anyway because of the carrots so I got to go wild with the nuts here.
Butter: We’re starting out with more butter than I’d usually use in a scone because we are browning it and in the browning process you lose some moisture. European or american is fine, you can use salted too (just reduce the amount of salt in the recipe). Most important thing: keep it cold after browning.
Carrots: I’ve given the amount of carrots you’ll need by weight (measured after grating) but generally you’re looking at four skinny-ish skinned carrots with the tops and bottoms chopped off. Don’t grate them too much ahead of time, they start to oxidize.
Flavorings: Cinnamon is a must and from there you can use what you like in carrot cake. I’m a big fan of ground ginger so I use that. Sometimes I like clove with carrot cake but when I tested these it gave me overwhelming fall vibes so I skipped it in the final recipe. Cardamom and nutmeg will work too, do what you like – carefully!
Nuts: I love carrot cake with pistachios so I reached for those but you can use walnuts or (and this would be most classic) pecans. Add raisins too if you like, they should go in when the nuts go into the dough.
Heavy cream: Heavy cream gives this balance of having the right amount of fat and sweetness for a good scone which is why I use it so often in my scone recipes. A light cream can work, the scones will be less dense/more moist and cake like in the center.
Flour: I really love a low protein flour like white lily for scones but it’s totally ok if you don’t have it. Any all purpose will do. Don’t use bread flour, it’ll make them chewy rather than flaky.
As much as I want you to enjoy the idea that you are browning the butter just because brown butter is so good, I have to confess to you there’s a technical reason we’re browning the butter: brown butter has less moisture in it which is good for a recipe where you are adding moisture to what should be a rather dry dough (hi carrots!). So the browned butter helps balance out the extra moisture we get from the grated carrots.
But I digress, you know how to brown butter by now don’t you? If not, watch this video you’ll see me browning it in the beginning of the recipe (scroll down to the instructions and the video is there). Basically you’re cooking the butter until the milk solids separate and then *toast*, turning them nutty, brown and well, delicious.
Melted butter in a scone dough is a bit of a disaster, even softened butter will ruin the texture of a good flaky scone. We want to brown it for two reasons though remember? So after browning we’re just going to chill it again until it’s solid. Then you’ll treat it like you would a stick of butter straight from the fridge: chop it up and add to the dough.
You can use your hands for this, grabbing pats of flour/butter between your index and thumbs and pressing down to blend it in. I usually prefer a pastry knife but if you are looking closely at the recipe video below you’ll see I used my hands this time (my butter wasn’t 100% solid and I was rushing, you’ll do better than I did).
The important thing to remember: you want bits of butter that are not fully blended. Bits that are bean sized (don’t go crazy, we’re not talking fava bean sized but more like kidney or even black beans), that will solidify when we freeze the dough and then melt in the oven, giving us flaky layers.
Whisk all the dry ingredients together, cut in the butter, then add the fruit and nuts.
The only slightly annoying part of making scones is the ‘folding’ or bringing the dough together into a ‘ball’. It should be very shaggy and bordering on dry but not so dry that the flour won’t stay in the dough. I like to use my hands to kind of bunch it together, encouraging it to become one big mass. Fold it over a couple of times as you do this and then you can dump it onto the floured countertop and just press it with your hands to get it to stay in shape.
Yes, in fact you need to make them at least an hour before you want to bake them. But generally speaking you can make them as far as a month ahead of time. I freeze my scone dough after slicing (more on that below) so as long as they are in an airtight container in the freezer, they’ll be fine.
They won’t come to room temperature before baking, in fact they shouldn’t!
Well, we talked about keeping that butter cold, cold cold and so once it’s all mixed up in the dough, you should still have some bean-sized bits of butter that haven’t blended. We want those to be exactly like that before the scones bake.
Freezing the dough, after we’ve warmed up the butter a bit by mixing it in and then handling it when shaping, solidifies the butter fully. In the oven these bits of butter will melt quickly, and as they melt they cause the layers between the dough to separate – that is what makes a flaky scone.
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