Golden, craggy and tall, not too sweet, flavored with figs and vanilla, these buttermilk scones are a tasty mash-up of the American and British cousins.
Preheat your oven to 400ºF. Coat a baking sheet with baking spray or butter.
In a large bowl sift in the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add the sugar and salt and stir to combine with a whisk.
Add the butter and, using your hands, toss in the dry mixture until the butter pieces are coated. Then pinch the butter pieces between your fingers until you have large slivers or pea-sized pieces of butter. This step shouldn't take more than a minute or two and it's important for the butter to be cold. If necessary, refrigerate the entire mixture for a few minutes before proceeding.
Add the figs to the flour/butter mixture and toss around until the figs are coated in flour.
Add the buttermilk and vanilla extract to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula just until the liquid has been absorbed by the flour.
Transfer the loose, crumbly mixture onto a lightly-floured work surface and just press the dough together until it holds together. Do not overwork it. I like to press all the loose pieces into a mound, flatten a little then fold the disk in half, lightly press again and fold in half once more. (You don't want to work the dough too much or knead it.) Press the disk until it's about one inch tall and five or six inches in diameter.
Using a round cookie cutter, cut out round disks (do not twist the cutter as you cut) and transfer to the baking sheet. Pat the remaining dough to get another one or two scones and transfer to the baking sheet. You can also cut the dough in wedges rather than use a cookie cutter. (I used a 2 3/4 inch round cutter but you can use a smaller cutter to yield more scones; just adjust the baking time by a minute or two.)
Brush just the top of the scones with milk. Avoid brushing the sides as the liquid will keep the scones from rising. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
Bake in the oven for roughly 18 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the cooking time. When done, the scones should be golden and crisp on top. If your scones are cut smaller than 2 3/4 inches, remember to adjust the cooking time by checking at the 14-15 minute mark.
Serve warm on their own or with butter and jam.
* Recipe adapted from Tartine Bakery Buttermilk Scones
* The odd measurements are because I halved the original recipe. These amounts can easily be doubled for rounder measures and about 14 large scones.
* Dried Figs are fine to use as is but if you want them a little softer and more plump you can rehydrate them by soaking in liquid for about 3o minutes. Drain, squeezing out excess liquid, before adding to recipe.