On a cool weekend morning, I love to pull together a batch of warm savoury scones and enjoy them with a cup or two of my favourite tea. There are different types of scones: these are based on a buttermilk biscuit recipe that results in a light scone that has many tender layers. They are quick to make and quick to eat.
Today I had some leftover gruyere which I used. An old cheddar also makes a delicious scone. I prefer to be able to “find” the cheese in my scones so I slice it thinly and then chop it into small pieces – each piece is roughly 1/2 x 1/4 x 1/32 inch in size. Grated cheese disperses more consistently throughout the scone but is a little quicker to prepare if you are pressed for time. It is a matter of choice. If you are not a huge rosemary fan, thyme or an herbes de provence mix also work well.
These scones don’t need to be buttered, but a little extra butter doesn’t hurt them one bit. They are also nice with jam. Alternatively, they are delicious with a little cured ham or hard sausage. Today, I enjoyed them with some duck prosciutto and some lamb prosciutto from Oyama Sausage on Granville Island in Vancouver.
Herbed Gruyere and Buttermilk Scones
2 1/2 c. flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c. unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
1/2 c. buttermilk
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. gruyere cheese (or any hard cheese you have on hand), grated, or cut into small thin pieces
cracked black pepper
2 tbsp dried rosemary, broken down
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a bowl and cut in the flour until it is well blended and the consistency of coarse oatmeal. I recommend using your fingers rubbing the butter and flour mixture into flakes between your thumb and first two fingers. Mix the gruyere, rosemary and pepper into the flour mixture and create a well in the center. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk with the baking soda and egg and beat the mixture. Add the almost all of the liquid mixture to the the flour and butter mixture, reserving a little (about a tablespoon) for a wash (see below).
Using a dough scraper, quickly combine the dry and wet ingredients to form what my mom calls a “shaggy mass”. As soon as the dough begins to come together, stop.
Flour a surface and dump the contents of the dough bowl onto it. Gather the dough bits into a rectangle, then fold the rectangle into thirds. Flatten the new rectangle gently by pressing on it. Scoop up any loose bits with the dough scraper and toss them onto the new rectangle. Fold in thirds again. Repeat this process just until the former “shaggy mass” forms a soft dough (no more than 6 or 7 turns). Roll out the dough to a 1″ thickness.
If you forgot to reserve a little of the liquid for a wash, beat an egg with 1 tbsp of milk and a pinch of salt to create an egg wash or just use a little heavy cream or buttermilk. Using a glass or round cookie cutter, cut the dough into rounds flouring the cutter between each cut to minimize sticking. After cutting as many pieces as possible, gather up the leftover bits, press them together forming a new rectangle, rolling it to an even 1″ thickness and cut some more rounds. The less you can work the dough to accomplish this the better – the scones will get tougher the more the dough is worked. Place the rounds on a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment (for easy cleanup) and glaze them with the wash being careful to only put wash on the tops – having wash on the sides will impair the ability of the scone to rise . Bake for about 15 minutes, until they are golden-brown in color.
N.B. If you prefer a less savoury scone, you can replace the cheese and herbs with dried cranberries (1/2 c.) and citrus zest (a few teaspoons), currants (1/2 c.), or make them plain.