Herb & Cheese Scones

It’s been a strange year weather-wise in this city. Summers in San Francisco are cold as a rule – the fog cools everything off – but this year was freezing. And here we are now, well on our way to winter. Until today most days have been warm and sunny. 70° just before Thanksgiving? What is up with that?

Because of this phenomenon, I haven’t felt the need to switch my oven on. That is generally my favourite mode of warming up our home. The double punch of the warmth of the oven and the warm aromas of baking wafting up and through the apartment is more than enough to keep us toasty most weekends. But lacking continuous cold weather, this hasn’t happened much. A pity really, because this time of year is ideal for baking and these scones I’m going to tell you about are great day after Thanksgiving brunch or tea time eats.

I first made these scones last year when I was craving something buttery and flaky. Back home, we had these amazing chicken pattices that one could get pretty much anywhere. My favourite version was the one at a store called Candies in Bandra. The filling was chicken perfection, but the crust, oh what crust!  This was not your usual khari biscuit type crust, the kind that shattered with your first bite. Oh no, this was different. Buttery and lightly flaky with a good dose of pepper, I loved how it was the perfect foil for the almost paté-like chicken inside.

It was while I was craving that crust that I chanced upon this recipe for scones. I had my first real scone in this city and have been in love ever since, I’ve also discovered that there are all manner of scones. I’d made drop biscuits which could be considered scones a while ago. This particular recipe however, is for a cream scone. We found them fluffier and flakier than their usual counterparts, with a beautiful crumb and light texture. I added enough pepper and cayenne to the base recipe to give it a bit of a kick.

The most important thing is to have really cold butter to work with. I made these by hand the first time, which is easy enough but I have warm hands, so I hard to work twice as fast to not melt the butter. That cold pea-sized butter is what will get you fluffy scones. The smaller the peas, the better.

Try any herb and cheese combination you like. I’ve tried a fusion of chives, oregano and another of parsley & cilantro with great results. The kind of cheese can be any that mostly melts. You can gently slice these scones lengthwise and put something in between to eat like a sandwich. I put in some boiled & shredded chicken. It was not a pure substitute for Candies, nevertheless very tasty.

Herb and Cheese Scones
Adapted from a recipe by Ina Garten

AP Flour – 4 cups plus 1 extra tbsp
Baking Powder – 2 tbsp
Salt – 1-1/2 tsp
Butter – 3/4 pound, cold and cut into dice
Eggs – 4, beaten. Plus 1 egg, beaten with water for egg wash
Cream – 1 cup, cold
Gjetost – 1/4 pound, grated
Gruyère – 1/4 pound, grated
Parsley – 1/2 cup, minced fine
Dill – 1/2 cup, minced fine
Ground pepper – 1 tbsp
Cayenne pepper – 1 tsp

– Preheat the oven to 400°F.
– In a large bowl or in the bowl of your KitchenAid, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
– Then add the butter and rub it into the flour mixture until you have pea-sized pieces. If you will be using an electric mixer then simply beat with the paddle attachment until the flour is the same consistency.
– Mix the eggs and heavy cream and pour into the mixture and stir until it all comes together using either a wooden spoon or your electric mixer.
– Mix the two cheeses and herbs and toss with the reserved spoon of flour to mix. Then add the cheese-herb mix to the dough and stir with spoon or using your mixer further until it all just comes together.
–  Turn the dough out on to a floured surface and knead slightly until the fillings are well-distributed. Roll the dough with a heavy rolling-pin until it is about 3/4″ thick.
– Cut into four squares and then cut the squares into triangles. Brush the tops with the egg wash.
– Bake on a parchment paper covered tray for about 20-25 minutes, until tops are golden brown.