3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 ounces (12 tablespoons) very cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1 large egg
3/4 to 1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Melted unsalted butter for brushing
Put an oven rack on a rung in the upper third of the oven. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Stack two baking sheets together and line the top sheet with parchment paper.
In a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
Process about 10 seconds to blend dry ingredients.
Add the butter chunks on top and process in three consecutive intervals or ‘shifts’ for 6-8 seconds per shift. Mixture should be fine and grainy with no big chunks of butter sticking out.
Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add the egg, vanilla and 3/4 cup of the cream as well as the scrapings of the vanilla bean. Stir with a fork. Stir the mixture briskly but firmly about 10-14 times to bring it together somewhat, bringing the dough into the center of the bowl and turning the bowl as you do so. Then knead briefly with hands to pull mixture together a bit more, about 5-6 times, until you have a rough dough that holds together but is a touch ragged looking. This is when to add the additional 1/4 cup more cream, if necessary.
Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of sugar on a work surface.
Then, using your hands to continue mixing, turn out the dough onto the sugared work surface. Blend with your fingertips, kneading or squeezing dough gently but firmly to get a soft dough that holds together, pressing it gently in the sugar on the board in order to help knead the dough but have the sugar adhere at the same time. Once you have a mass, firmly knead the dough 6-8 times.
Let the dough rest 3-5 minutes.
Divide the dough in two and pat it into two discs, each about 1-inch thick and 6-8 inches in diameter. Cut the discs into four wedges.
Set the scones on the lined baking sheet, spacing them evenly. Brush them with melted butter.
Bake until the scones are nicely browned on top, 17 to 20 minutes. Cool on a rack until they can be handled easily (still warm but not hot to touch.)