Vodka in Scone Recipe?
I'm going to make blueberry scones this weekend. Looking at the recipe (which calls for buttermilk), it occurred to me that substituting vodka for some of the buttermilk might help avoid toughness. I used vodka in pie crusts, but have never seen any recipes calling for it in other baked goods. Anyone tried this?
I have not done this. The reason for the vodka in pie crust is that half the vodka evaporates in baking, but makes the dough damper and easier to handle in the raw state. Pie crust is thinner, and bakes longer, than scones. I have no idea if all of the alcohol would evaporate in the briefer amount of time that scones bake.
I haven't, but I find that the acidity of buttermilk contributes to tenderness. The key to tender scones, as with pie crust, is not overworking the dough, but it's relatively easy to avoid overworking a scone or biscuit dough, as they're not subject to as much manipulation as short pastry that needs to be rolled.
I don't think vodka would be a significant benefit for scones or biscuits.
For one, as others have noted, the liquid usually buttermilk actually adds flavor to the scone. Not the case with pie crust - the liquid is water.
Two, think about the texture of a good scone versus a good crust. While you want neither to be tough, the former has a denser and (dare I say) chewier texture than the latter, which you want to be light, airy and of course flaky. Vodka won't help you with the former, only the latter.
The lactic acid in buttermilk (PH of about 4.1 to 4.8) reacts with the baking powder in a scone causing it to rise. The PH of Vodka is 6-7, making it very close to neutral, and less reactive with the baking powder. You result will be flatter, denser, tougher scones.
Vodka is used in pie crust because it is a near neutral PH (like water) but does not react with the wheat protein in the same manner as water, and allows for a water more user friendly dough.
The best bet is proper technique, don't overwork your dough.