Big Little Recipe has the smallest-possible ingredient list and big everything else: flavor, creativity, wow factor. That means five ingredients or fewer — not including water, salt, black pepper, and certain fats (like oil and butter), since we're guessing you have those covered. Psst, did you hear we're coming out with a cookbook? We're coming out with a cookbook!
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Odds are, if a recipe calls for lemon, the author will tell you to zest it or juice it or both. Look no further than these this creamy pasta or these speedy shrimp or this no-churn ice cream. But what about the rest of the lemon? Does it not deserve our attention, too?
It does. Just as you can eat banana peels and coffee grounds, you can eat the lemon leftovers — scraps, rejects, whatever you call them — that you'd normally toss in the trash. Don't believe me? Just think of preserved lemons: slit, packed with salt, and cured for weeks. Or ask cookbook author Dorie Greenspan:
In "Paris Sweets," she shared a Whole-Lemon Tart inspired by Rollet-Pradier, a pâtisserie in Paris. In the years since its publication in 2002, the recipe has soared to internet stardom, found on Smitten Kitchen, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. (Our site has its own version — à la Lazy Mary.)
While the tart calls for only one lemon, "it contains every bit of that lemon except the seeds," Greenspan writes, "so you get the powerful flavor of the zest as well as the jolting freshness of the juice and pulp."
Today we're applying that same smart logic to scones. Because why have lemon scones when you could have the lemoniest?
This template, spurred by another Big Little Recipe from a couple years back, is as simple as it gets: flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt, stirred together and drowned in cream. The seemingly absurd amount plays the role of liquid and fat, which eliminates the need for butter and, in turn, eliminates the usual butter pitfalls.
But before we stir the cream into the dry ingredients, we're going to spike it. Not with lemon juice, nor lemon zest, but a whole lemon blitzed into an applesauce-like mush. Within seconds, the sloshy cream magically thickens into something that more closely resembles crème fraîche.
And we could stop there. We could. Why would we, though, when we could also reuse most of this little ingredient list for a puckery glaze? More cream, more sugar, and, yes, more lemon. Because when I said lemoniest, I meant it.
Recipe: Lemoniest Lemon Scones
Prep time: 15 minutes
Makes: 8 scones
- 2 cups (240 grams) white whole-wheat flour
- 2 tablespoons (14 grams) confectioners' sugar
- 3 1/4 teaspoons (13 grams) baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 large organic lemon (about 142 grams)
- 1 1/4 cups (284 grams) cold heavy cream, plus more as needed
- 1 cup (114 grams) confectioners' sugar
- 1 large organic lemon (about 142 grams)
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 1 pinch flaky salt (optional)
- Heat the oven to 400°F. (If you have a baking stone, great — add that to the middle rack of the oven where you'll bake your scones. If not, no worries.) Line a sheet pan with a silicone mat or parchment.
- Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and stir.
- Thickly slice the lemon, then discard any seeds. Add the slices to a blender or food processor and blend until mushy, like applesauce. Add this lemon mush to the measuring cup with the cream and stir to combine.
- Add most of the lemon cream to the flour mixture and stir. Add the rest and stir again. You're aiming for a lumpy dough that easily holds together when squeezed, with no visible dry patches. Add a little more cream if needed, 1 tablespoon at a time.
- Plop the scone dough onto a lightly flour surface and use your hands to shape into a 7-inch circle (about 1 1/4 inches thick). Cut into 8 triangles. Brush the tops generously with cream. Transfer the scones to the baking sheet, evenly spaced apart.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, until the bottoms are deeply golden brown and the tops are bouncy to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool until barely warm while you work on the glaze.
- Preferably with a Microplane, finely grate the lemon zest into a tiny bowl or ramekin. Now halve and juice the lemon into a glass (removing any seeds if needed). Combine the confectioners' sugar, 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice, and the heavy cream in a small bowl. Stir with a fork until smooth. Stir in half of the lemon zest.
- When the scones are barely warm to the touch, drizzle with the glaze, then top with the remaining lemon zest and a pinch of flaky salt, if you'd like.