I’m a savory girl: nine times out of ten when I want a treat it’s not of the sweet variety. It makes me grumpy to go to coffee shops and bakeries and find they have nothing to satisfy that urge for something that’s not a dessert.
During the holiday season, when we’re inundated by cookies and candies and cakes and pies, I want to make something that offset the sugary deluge. Enter the cheese and herb scone.
The recipe is one I’ve been making since my teenage years–it’s one of the first things I learned to bake, and the original rule came from one of my mother’s magazines. It was a favorite in my family, but I haven’t made it anywhere near enough for mine.
The changes I’ve made are pretty basic–additions of different herbs that seem good at the time, different kinds of cheese than I used to use (though even orange cheese is good in this recipe), butter instead of vegetable shortening, and cutting the rolled-out dough into smaller wedges, effectively doubling the number of servings.
I can also make a batch a lot faster using the food processor to cut the fat into the flour. It makes some extra dishes, but the time saved in assembling the dough is well worth it–especially when dealing with cold hard butter.
Heat oven to 425 (or, if you don’t have everything prepped in advance, wait until you’re halfway through).
Put four cups of unsifted flour in your food processor’s big bowl (I used half whole wheat this time), 4 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt and some assorted dried herbs and spices–I usually use some thyme, sweet basil, a little garlic powder and hot pepper. Pulse to mix.
Then add 2/3 cup cold butter in small chunks, and pulse until the butter is cut into the flour. Grate 3/4 to 1 cup of your favorite flavorful cheese (use more if the cheese is not super flavorful) and add that to the bowl, pulsing to mix.
Dump the flour, butter, and cheese mixture into a good-sized mixing bowl and add 1 1/3 cups milk and 1 tablespoon good brown mustard (Dijon is best, but I don’t always have that on hand–I used Woeber’s Sweet & Spicy this time). Mix this together with a fork until you have a soft dough.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 5-6 times to get it all stuck together in a big ball. Then, cut the ball in half and, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out each half into a 7″ circle. Using a sharp knife (I used a pizza cutter), cut each circle into 8 wedges.
Put the wedges onto a big greased cookie sheet about 1/2″ to an inch apart. Pierce the tops with a fork, brush them with water, and sprinkle some more cheese on the tops. Bake for 15-18 minutes in a 425 oven until lightly browned.
I used two different kinds of cheese this time–sharp Vermont cheddar inside and fine-grated Asiago on top. I’d like to try this recipe with a funky blue or gorgonzola cheese–I bet that would be divine!
The recipe makes 16 tea-time-sized scones, and they are best served warm, so get some of them out of your house and to your neighbors and friends before you eat them all yourself.