I only just recently tried an actual scone. For some reason I had become weary of this coffee shop confection that so many people seem to disdain, partly because I spend too much time reading about said disdain on the internet. But the beautiful scone I first sunk my teeth into—with its crunchy turbinado exterior and crumbly, blueberry-laced interior—had me wondering what in the heck the problem was? It was absolutely scrumptious. There was nothing dense or flavorless about it!
I will admit this particular scone came from the original Rustic Bakery in Marin County, California, and Rustic Bakery isn't exactly known for having dense, flavorless anything. Yep, I'm pretty sure no other scone will actually ever taste as good to me as that first one. But at least by setting high standards (the highest?) for myself, I now know what to strive for.
When I decided to attempt scones for the first time in my own kitchen, I opted not to go with a traditional fruit-filled scone, but instead with something a bit more savory. Goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes are two ingredients I always have on hand and seemed like a natural pairing. I actually much prefer salty flavors in the morning over sugar-laden sweets, so I was excited about the bold combination.
My research was intensive—who knew there were so many different techniques for a recipe often calling for a few basic pantry ingredients? (Cream or buttermilk? Baking powder or baking soda, or what about a mix of both? Will they be best in the food processor, stand mixer, or by hand? 350 or 425 degrees? Convention or regular oven?) Oh my gosh!!! The possibilities now seemed daunting.
I drafted a couple of recipes using a few different variables, and then I got to work. There were a few minor mishaps, for sure, but only because I was applying too much of my Southern biscuit-loving know-how, meaning I kept getting fluffier results than I wanted. (I wanted scones, not biscuits.) In the end my obsessive efforts prevailed. The final recipe yielded a tender, flavorful scone guaranteed to convert any aforementioned haters. (It actually converted my next door neighbor! He immediately asked for the recipe!)
The best part about these savory scones is that they're equally delicious for breakfast and brunch as they are for dinner. I cut the final batch into miniature triangles to serve with Friday night cocktails, and they were a grand success. (Oh, and the leftovers were just as good paired with coffee the next morning!)
Don't fret if you don't have sun-dried tomatoes or goat cheese lying around. I think these would be just as tasty with feta, roasted red peppers, or even just a handful of freshly chopped herbs. The pantry's the limit!
Savory Scones with Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) frozen unsalted butter, chopped into small cubes
4 ounces chilled goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole buttermilk
2 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1 egg, lightly beaten
Place the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, baking soda, and mustard powder in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the butter over the flour and pulse until the butter has become the size of small peas, about 5-6 pulses. Add the goat cheese, buttermilk, sun-dried tomatoes, and parsley, and pulse until the mixture just begins to combine. (It should still look shaggy and dry, but squish together when you press it with your fingers.)
Turn the mixture onto a sheet pan lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper sheet. Pat the dough into a rectangle, about 1 inch thick. Transfer to the freezer to firm up, about 30 minutes. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the dough lengthwise into 1 1/4-inch strips, then cut 1 1/4 inch strips crosswise to form squares. Cut each square diagonally to make triangles. Pull them apart just a little bit (to allow room to expand) and transfer the pan back to the freezer. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for a minimum of thirty minutes, or overnight. (To make large wedges, pat the dough into two equal round discs, then cut into wedges.)
Preheat oven to 425°F. Lightly brush the dough with egg wash and bake (on the same pan on which they were frozen) until the scones are golden and firm to the touch, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
(Images: Nealey Dozier)