Make Ahead

Vanilla Fig Scones

November  5, 2012
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

I had this whole plan to make vanilla bean budinos (because the best vanilla, I think, tends to be vanilla in creamy format) with some sort of ginger-citrus curd, maybe like fruit on the bottom. But, then this weekend when I finally had time to futz in the kitchen, the only thing I wanted to make or eat was scones. Obscenely huge, craggy scones (I get as picky about my scone texture as I do about muffins), preferably with figs in them, and vanilla. So I made that instead, adapting Joanne Chang's fabulous recipe for scones. And they were delicious! As good as budinos? Who knows. But,they hit the spot. —fiveandspice

Test Kitchen Notes

Delightful. These are rich without being heavy, crunchy, and with a delicate bite. The moist mission figs provide a nice contrast. A note for future bakers: my batch baked for exactly 30 minutes. Also, be sure to use cold ingredients when you make the dough -- it'll make a big difference. I had one of these for breakfast and froze the rest to enjoy another time! —Carolyn Z

  • Makes 8 kind of ridiculously large scones
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons raw cane sugar
  • 1 whole vanilla bean
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried figs
  • 1/4 cup bourbon (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chilled salted butter cut into small chunks
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup chilled crème fraîche
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
In This Recipe
  1. The day before (or several days before) making the scones, split open your vanilla bean. Scrape out the seeds and use your fingers to blend them into the sugar. Then, add the pod to the sugar, put it all into an airtight container, and let it hang out until you're ready to bake. Remove the pod before baking (you can add it to some other sugar though to make that sugar vanilla-y for future use).
  2. Preheat your oven to 350°F. If your dried figs are quite plump, you can use them as they are. Otherwise, combine the chopped figs with the bourbon in a small bowl and allow the figs to rehydrate for 10 minutes, then drain. (You may want to do this even if your figs are plump. Who doesn't want their figs to be a bit bourbon-infused?)
  3. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and 1/3 cup sugar in a large bowl. Working quickly, use your fingers (I prefer fingers because then I can get a better feel for how the dough is doing) or a pastry cutter to work in the butter until the dough resembles coarse meal or sand with a few larger pea-sized butter chunks still left as well.
  4. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Whisk together the eggs, cream, and crème fraîche, and add this mixture along with the (drained) chopped figs to the well. Stir until everything is just combined. Then, use your hands to gather the whole mess together.
  5. Dump the dough onto the counter, and pull it all together into a rough ball, and pat it into a big circle about 3/4-1 inch thick. There may be stray bits of dry flour mixture left over that won't stick to the rest of the dough. Pat on what you easily can, otherwise just leave it, it's OK.
  6. Use a dough scraper to cut the circle into 8 huge wedges (or if you are capable of more moderation in your scones than I, you can divide it into more smaller wedges and adjust the baking time accordingly). Separate the scones from each other and transfer them to a parchment lined baking sheet. (At this point you can freeze the scones instead of baking them, and once they're hard, store them in an airtight container in the freezer to be baked at a future point.)
  7. Lightly brush the scones with the milk and sprinkle with the remaining sugar. Bake the scones in the middle rack of the oven until they are golden brown and crisped on their craggy edges, 20-30 minutes. (It took only 20 minutes in my oven, but it seems to be running hot these days.)
  8. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack to cool as much as desired. I think scones are the best served while still warm (but not hot) from the oven. But, they are also lovely at room temperature, and will keep for a day, especially if you gently warm them back up before serving.

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I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (, where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.