There are issues that weigh heavily upon me. Global warming. The economy. How to make a really good scone.
This scone issue is serious because the Women of St. Paul’s have lost their professional baker of scones for the English Tea. I thought I had scored a triumph when I obtained her recipe. Then I read it. It’s from England. All the measurements are in grams. I don’t do grams.
I started getting agitated. If the scones suck, everyone will blame me. Oh, they won’t say anything. They’ll just give me the look. The pitiful look that will convey, “The tea would have been a complete success but for the scones. Oh, well.”
But then I started thinking about it. A scone is nothing but a biscuit with fluted edges. And what makes biscuits light and flaky? Buttermilk. So I found a recipe from Nigella Lawson, decided to make savory scones so Mark would help me eat them, and gave it a whirl. By George, I think I got it. The scones turned out light and moist and were really quite spectacular with a few well-placed pieces of crispy bacon sandwiched in the middle.
Cheddar Cheese and Chive Scones (with liberal thanks to Nigella Lawson)
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
½ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter
2 tablespoons very cold Crisco
¾ cup shredded Cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons snipped chives
1 ¼ to 1 ½ cups buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Put the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times to combine.
Cut the butter and Crisco into small cubes and add to the work bowl. Pulse until the cubes have become the size of peas (you may have a stray large chunk, but we’ll fix that in a minute).
Transfer the flour mixture to a mixing bowl. Gently sift through the mixture and if you encounter a large chunk of butter or Crisco just rub it with your fingers to break it up. Add the Cheddar cheese and chives, mixing gently but thoroughly.
Add 1 ¼ cups of buttermilk and mix gently until a dough forms. If the mixture seems too dry add the rest of the buttermilk.
Lightly flour a cutting board and pat the dough until it is about 1 ¾ inches thick, Cut out scones with a biscuit cutter, preferably fluted, and place fairly close together on a baking sheet with either a silicone mat or parchment paper.
Bake for 12 minutes and cool on a wire rack.
Yield: 12 scones.