Photos by Hillary Ehlen
Scones. What once started as a pastry made for accompanying a cup of tea is now a staple of most coffeehouses and bake shops. It’s a British classic that can take on many forms. I make a point to try out a scone whenever I cross paths with one as they can be rather unique in texture, sweetness, shape and flavor.
I’ve met scones that were smooth, round and more like bread with their chewiness and density. Some have been rather dry and lacking flavor, making them more biscuit-like and requiring they be dunked in tea or coffee. They’ve also been sweet and soft textured like a cupcake. It really is all about interpretation as we constantly find ourselves experimenting with new flavors and pushing the boundaries of tradition.
Whether they are cooked on a griddle or baked in the oven, sweet or savory, they deserve to be a part of any brunch spread. You can cut them into small triangles to create mini scones or make them whatever shape you’d like. The key takeaways when recreating this recipe is to measure correctly, know when to stop stirring/kneading and be gentle with this dough. The goal is to create a light, flaky and tender brunch-worthy pastry that makes you slow down for a minute and appreciate all it has to offer, as well as how awesome brunch is because brunch means you slept in and you don’t have to decide between breakfast and lunch. That is a definite win-win situation.
Chorizo and Cheese Savory Scones
Makes 12 Standard Scones
4 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into a measuring cup and leveled
2t. Baking powder
1 t. Salt
1/4 t. Black pepper
1 cup Unsalted butter, cold and cut into ½” cubes
8 oz. Cured chorizo, cut into ¼” pieces (optional)
6 oz. Cheddar cheese, cut into ½” cubes
6 oz. Sour cream
2 oz. Half and half, plus more for wash
1 t. Baking soda
1 Large egg
Prepare Ingredients. Though not required as cured chorizo is fully cooked, I sautéed it to enhance the flavor and crisp it up a bit. A few minutes over medium heat does the trick. Let cool to room temperature before adding to dough. This is also a good time to preheat your oven to 350F.
Given that we are baking here, we need to measure carefully and thoughtfully. In a large bowl combine the all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt and black pepper. Whisk together thoroughly.Step Three
Cut in Butter. Add the cold, cubed butter to the dry ingredient mixture and cut in the butter using what I call the “money-making” hand gesture. Similar to the motion associated with snapping your fingers. Do this just until you get a coarse mixture with relatively even, pea-sized pieces of butter throughout. These pieces of butter are what create the flakiness of the scones so be sure not to overwork the mixture.
Wet Ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine sour cream, half n half, baking soda and the egg. Combine thoroughly until a consistent color with no streaks of egg yolks. Create a small well in your dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into it. Using a wooden spoon or a spatula, stir just until the liquid mixture has absorbed into the dry ingredients.
Combine. Stir in your chorizo and cheddar. Now, put down the spoon or spatula! Using your hands (because baking can be messy and that is definitely part of the fun) get in there and fold/flip the dough while lightly kneading with the heel of your hand just until it comes together in a ball. Resist all temptation to make it smooth and perfectly round. We want to protect all those little butter pieces by not melting them with the heat from our hands or overworking the dough which will result in tough scones.
Shape. Place the mixture on a work surface and cut in half. We’re going to go with the traditional triangular shape so form each half into a round disk (no need to be perfect here) about the length of your hand from the bottom edge of your palm to the tip of your middle finger (roughly seven inches.) If you want to make mini scones, divide the dough into quarters, press into smaller circles and decrease baking time by a third.
Cut, Brush and Bake. Cut each circle into six equal triangles. Separate on to two baking sheets (six scones per sheet) and brush lightly with half and half. Generously sprinkle with coarse salt and bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, rotating halfway through. They should be firm when lightly touched on top and be golden brown around the edges. Let cool slightly before enjoying. They keep for two to three days in an airtight container.