October 30, 2009

Sweet and Savory Scones

Fast on the heels of hosting my first dinner party in my new apartment, I invited a couple of my girlfriends over for a "True Blood: Season 2" marathon (thank you hbo ondemand!).

Knowing we would need plenty of energy to see us through the day, top of mind was making sure we'd have enough food and drink to see us through hours of watching Eric and Jason, and wondering who in tarnation thought it was necessary for either one of them to bother with wearing a shirt. (i mean, really. a shirt? on either of them? *sigh* so unnecessary.)

Since it was a Sunday, my friends and I collaborated on a brunch menu. They brought fruit and veggie platters (my mom
would be so proud) and the fixins for fruity rum drinks and bloody marys (mom might question this one).

I volunteered to do the baking. (so selfless of me, don't you think?) Keeping with the brunch theme, I made an easy quiche using a recipe from my family's B&B days. This recipe also appeared at my Easter dinner. This cheater's quiche does
not count for the blog though. So, for the sake of my poor little blog, I decided to use a recipe for scones from "Baking in America: Traditional and Contemporary Favorites from the Past 200 Years." And, for the pure fun of it, I made a recipe for Bacon Cheddar Scones that I saw featured on Tastespotting.com, a site I love and adore. The featured Tastespotting photo was of scones made by Pink Parsley, and I used the recipe she posted on her site as well.

For whatever reason, I decided to make the Bacon Cheddar Scones first. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I wanted to nibble on two or three slices of bacon sooner rather than later. (photo note: the bacon cheddar scones above are featured on my #PlateSwap plate. loves it!)

In any case, the Bacon Cheddar Scones were relatively easy to make. Me and my trusty pastry cutter got along just fine, and I had the distinct joy of mixing the bacon, cheese and green onion bits into the dough by hand. The result was a pleasing ball of dough that did just what it was supposed to do when I rolled it out and cut it into triangles.

With those scones in the oven, I turned my attention to making the "Baking in America" scones. The exact recipe calls for currants. I hate currants. Raisins too. So, I made a substitution and set out to make White Chocolate Cranberry Scones.

These went so far awry that it's not even funny. At least I can say it was not my fault. Having made the Bacon Cheddar Scones, having read a few other scones recipes and having enjoyed more than my fair share of scones made by others, I knew what the finished product was supposed to look like.

So far as I can deduce, the dough for the second batch of scones was just plain ol' wrong. It was wet, sticky and did not have enough flour by any stretch of the imagination. The "Baking in America" recipe called for one cup of cake flour and one cup of all-purpose flour. Most other recipes I had seen, including the Bacon Cheddar Scone recipe, called for about three cups of flour.

"Baking in America" is a cookbook I loved reading. It's one of the first cookbooks I purchased despite it's shocking lack of pictures (i like pictures in my cookbooks). I wanted to have faith in it and in the belief that maybe I just didn't know what I was doing and that, somehow, someway, the recipe would magically turn out all right.

Well, it didn't.

Aside from substituting cranberries for currants and adding some white chocolate chunks, I followed the blasted recipe and the baking directions.

What a mistake. I should have gone with my gut and added about a cup of flour to the dough. Then, instead of a mass of chewy, not-scones, I would have had proper scones. The scones were edible and my friends liked the flavor of them, but the texture of them killed me. Under other circumstances, I would have chucked those suckers into the garbage. However, my friends are the sort I trust not only with my successes, but also with my failures.

While I will not pass the failed recipe on to you until, at some point, I figure out the right flour proportions, I will share with you the Bacon Cheddar Scones recipe, which came out just the right kind of savory and delicious .

Bacon Cheddar Scones - Makes eight scones
Adapted from Pink Parsley's Blog

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
½ cup chilled, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 ½ cups finely grated cheddar cheese
4 green onions, thinly sliced
10 slices of bacon
¾ to 1 ½ cups buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

I bake my bacon. As family, friends and readers of this blog know, frying is a dangerous activity so far as I'm concerned. (see here and here and here and here) If you're like me, then here's how you bake the bacon. Put some metal wire racks in a rimmed cookie sheet. Spray them with PAM cooking spray. Place the bacon slices side by side on the wire racks. They can touch just barely, but don’t let them overlap. Bake them for about 20 minutes or until they’re as crispy as you like them.

Or, you know, you can fry your bacon like normal people do. Either way, after they’re done, drain the extra grease off the bacon. When the bacon is cool enough, crumbled or chop the slices.

If you were baking your bacon, leave the oven heated at 400 degrees. If you weren't baking the bacon, now would be a good time to turn it on.

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper into a large bowel. Using a pastry cutter (or forks or a couple of butter knives) cut in the cubes of butter until the mixture is crumbly. The bits of butter and flour will about the size of flattened peas, but not all of the flour will be incorporated at this point.

Add the grated cheese and mix with your fingers just until blended. Don’t over mix the dough though because the heat of your fingers will melt the butter too much.

Add the bacon, green onions and ¾ cup of buttermilk. Mix by hand until all the ingredients are incorporated.

If the dough does not hold together and is too dry, add more buttermilk 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing lightly with each addition.

Do this until the dough is pliable and can be formed into a ball. Remember, don't overwork the dough or the scones will tough.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Using your hands still, pat the dough ball into an 8-inch circle about a
½ inch thick. With a large, sharp knife, cut the dough into 8 wedges. You can make smaller scones, but be sure to keep an eye on them while baking so that they don't burn.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place the scones on it with a little space between each one.

Bake 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.

These taste great warm. They taste great the next day. They also taste great on day three when you have to grab breakfast and run to the airport before you miss your flight (just saying, you know, in case you were wondering...).

A word on storing these. I baked these the night before the True Blood marathon with my friends. Once they had cooled, I stacked them on a plate, covered them tightly with foil and left them on the kitchen counter at room temperature.

After the brunch, I put them in Ziplock baggies and stored them in fridge, knowing that I might not eat the leftovers quickly enough before they started molding. Pop them in the microwave for a few seconds or in a toaster over for a minute or three to warm them up before eating them.

1 comment:

Cowgirl Chef said...

Ya know, I love True Blood and I love the sound of these bacon - cheddar scones...I just want to bite into them all!