Sunday, February 05, 2006

cookies vs. scones

Perhaps I'm too much a fan of the blog Cooking for Engineers, but I'm going to subject you, my faithful readers, to more analysis of bakery recipes. Last time it was New York City Black and White Cookies, and this time it's oatmeal raisin scones and cookies.

In a spur-of-the-moment desire for scones yesterday, I made New Joy's recipe for oatmeal raisin scones. They're not exactly a classic recipe, since they use melted butter instead of solid butter, but they were very good. Had another one for breakfast this morning, with tea and the Times. But I got to thinking, how is an oatmeal-raisin scone like, or not like, an oatmeal-raisin cookie? The ingredient lists are almost the same: flour, eggs, butter, oatmeal, etc., but the proportions are quite different. So today, I whipped up a spreadsheet to compare the two recipes. I converted the volume measurements (cups, teaspoons) that American cooks like to use to weights, and rescaled the scone recipe so that the total weight of all the ingredients was the same. Here are the summary results, in ounces (for a 3-pound recipe):

Compositions (in ounces) of
oatmeal-raisin cookies and scones
CookiesScones
Fat8.09.9
Sugar 12.74.0
Liquid0.45.2
Salt0.10.1
Leavening0.20.6
Oats10.57.4
Raisins4.9 4.9
Flour7.011.9
Eggs 3.83.8


The first thing to notice are the things that are about the same. The amount of eggs, raisins, and salt were basically identical. There's a bit more fat in the scones (!), and a little more flour and a little less oats. I imagine you could trade off the flour and oats in the cookie recipe to get breadier cookies, but replacing the flour in the scones with more oats might cause them not to stick together as well.

And then there are the big differences. Cookies have three times as much sugar as the scones. Scones have milk in them; the only real liquid (aside from that in the eggs and butter) in the cookies is a bit of vanilla. Scones have a lot more leavening; 2 T of baking powder, compared with 1 1/2 t of baking powder and soda for a cookies. As a result of the additional liquid and rising power, scones rise like bisuits, with a fluffy interior, while cookies melt into flat discs.

There you have it. Recipes and spreadsheets available upon request!

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4 Comments:

At 2:53 PM, Blogger Mona said...

That is great and so interesting. Now can you do that for me with muffins and scones? I always assume the big difference is sugar...maybe it is again:) Where is this recipe from? I am a huge scone fan and always looking for other ones to try.

 
At 3:06 PM, Blogger Harlan said...

Thanks!

Off the top of my head, I'd assume that muffins also have a lot more liquid than scones. When muffins rise in the oven, you get that nice bread-like crumb as the gluten forms chains. My vague recollection is that that can't happen if there's not much liquid, and scones have very little liquid. I think you can make muffins with very little sugar at all, but presumably they're usually better with sugar. :)

The scone recipe is from the New Joy of Cooking, the one with Ethan Becker as a co-author. And yeah, most scone recipes are pastry dough, with cold butter cut into the flour, but this one's not.

 
At 11:03 AM, Anonymous ARCHITECT-DERBY GIRL N.C. said...

THANKS FOR THE COMPARISON. I WAS JUST EATING A TASTY PECAN SCONE FROM GREAT HARVEST BREAD CO. IN CHAPEL HILL AND THOUGHT TO MYSELF "WHAT REALLY IS THE DIFFERENCE B/T A COOKIE AND A SCONE"? I TYPED "SCONE VS. COOKIE" IN MY GOOGLE BAR AND YOUR STUDY WAS THE FIRST OF THE RESULTS. THIS WAS INFORMATIVE AND FUN. I WAS SURPRISED TO FIND MORE FAT IN THE SCONE. I WONDER IF THIS IS GENERALLY TRUE AMONG AMERICAN BAKERY RECIPES? EUROPEAN?

 
At 2:15 PM, Anonymous Dorothy said...

This was a very useful comparison. My scones are always more muffin like, and I've often wondered how some bakeries get their scones more crisp and cookie-like.

 

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