2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup cold butter
1 cup to 2 cups chopped dried fruit, chocolate or other flavored chips, nuts, or a combination, optional
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or the flavoring of your choice
1/2 cup to 2/3 cup half and half or milk
2 teaspoons milk
2 tablespoons sparkling white sugar or cinnamon sugar, optional
1) In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.
2) Work in the butter just until the mixture is unevenly crumbly; it is normal for some larger chunks of butter to remain unincorporated.
3) Stir in the fruit, chips, and/or nuts, if you are using them.
4) In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla or other flavor, and half and half or milk.
5) Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until all is moistened and holds together.
6) Line a baking sheet with parchment; if you don’t have parchment, just use it without greasing it. Sprinkle a bit of flour atop the parchment or pan.
7) Scrape the dough onto the floured parchment or pan, and divide it in half. Round each half into a 5″ circle (if you have not incorporated any add-ins); or a 6″ circle (if you have added fruit, nuts, etc.). The circles should be about 3/4″ thick.
8) Brush each circle with milk, and sprinkle with coarse white sparkling sugar or cinnamon sugar, if desired.
9) Using a knife or bench knife that you’ve run under cold water, slice each circle into 6 wedges.
10) Carefully pull the wedges away from the center to separate them just a bit; there should be about 1/2″ space between them, at their outer edges.
11) For best texture and highest rise, place the pan of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes, uncovered. While the scones are chilling, preheat the oven to 425°F.
12) Bake the scones for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they are golden brown. When you pull one away from the others, it should look baked all the say through; the edge shouldn’t look wet or unbaked.
13) Remove the scones from the oven, and cool briefly on the pan. Serve warm. When they’re completely cool, wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to several days.