After what felt like a very long break, I finally got back into the kitchen yesterday and discovered the joys of the savoury scone…
I have always thought of scones as something you serve with jam and clotted cream – and not having a sweet tooth, nor being much of a baker, I generally stay away from them. And so many commercial versions are just “lard pucks” (to borrow a dear friend’s description). But I am now a convert.
The last few weeks have been very busy with work, heading into the final weeks of marking / lecturing for two courses, family visits (reminding me how much I love my cousins) and trips out of town (for both business and pleasure). I am loving every minute of it, but it definitely hasn’t left any time for cooking or for recharging my introvert energy meter (which was heading well into the danger zone).
All is good after yesterday! The SO and I hosted a dinner party last night so I spent about 4 hours in the kitchen on my own creating a full meal from scratch: baking lemon & rosemary oat crackers to serve with salmon rillettes and black olive tapenade (more on this in a future post), venison stew with savoury scones and for dessert – salted caramel sauce with toasted hazelnuts on top of vanilla ice cream. I was definitely in my happy place!
The scones were a great combination with the venison stew. It is a very easy and quick recipe, and I am already imaging the variations – substituting different herbs such as rosemary or oregano, adding lemon peel instead of orange, using whole wheat flour as a substitute for white flour….I can’t wait to make the next batch.
Savoury Herbed Scones (serves 6 – 8)*
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (substitute: you can use a Silpat liner or grease the sheet but I find it actually makes a nice presentation to include the parchment paper when you put the baked scones on the table).
2. Mix 2 cups flour with 1 tbsp baking powder, zest of one orange, 1 tsp sea salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp anise seed, pinch of nutmeg, 1/2 tsp of dried thyme, 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme, and 12 dried juniper berries (crushed in a mortar). Stir well until combined.
3. To the flour mixture, add 1/4 cup butter and combine (I find using your hands is easiest but you can also use a pastry cutter or two dinner knives) until the consistency of coarse cornmeal.
4. In a separate small bowl, beat 2 eggs until light and a bit frothy; whisk in 1/3 cup of whole milk, 1 tbsp of dark liquid honey, 1 tbsp gin (optional: can substitute with milk or water) & a pinch of saffron (crushed in a mortar).
5. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients; blend until it becomes a soft / crumbly dough.
6. Turn dough out onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Pat into a 2cm thick circle and then using a large serrated knife, cut into wedges. (I made 8 wedges but you could go for smaller wedges – don’t worry if you don’t cut all the way through the dough, you will complete the cutting after baking and before serving).
7. In a small bowl, beat 1 egg and 1 tbsp olive oil until blended and then brush on top of the unbaked scones. Sprinkle the wet-topped scones with coarse sea salt.
8. Bake for about 15 minutes or until firm & golden. Serve warm.
Last night, I opted out of serving green beer and corned beef in honour of St Patrick’s Day but I think the scones were a nice touch to honour my Irish background, although my great-great-great grandmother is probably turning over at the various savoury additions.
*Adapted from Savour Herbed Scones recipe in Food & Drink Spring 2014