Apologies for the lack of post on Monday – we had a snowstorm, and I was home with the baby all day an didn’t have time to write. So no post. Next week will also be a two-post week because of the holiday on Monday, but if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you would have anticipated that.
Today I’m going to tell you about scones. And I’m going to tell you how to not mess them up. I say this, because there’s a good chance I would have messed these scones up and just been a puddle of sobbing Maggie if I hadn’t taken one important step when making this recipe. That step is quite possibly the most important thing you can do whenever you’re reading and looking for new recipes on the internet. It’s part of why I link back to the original whenever I post here. That secret step? Read the comments!
I know, I know. You’re never supposed to read the comments on the internet. But that’s supposed to be for anything that could even potentially be controversial – politics, religion, the talent/weight/marital status/womb-status of a celebrity woman of any stripe. If it’s the kind of thing you can imagine internet trolls saying something along the lines of “Well, actually…” about, don’t read the comments. But when we’re talking about recipes, the comments are SO IMPORTANT.
A big part of this is because recipes on the internet, and especially coming from bloggers are an unknown quantity. How do you know that I’m not trolling everyone and posting random ingredient amounts or even random ingredients in a quest to get strangers to eat something that tastes nasty? How do you know that I didn’t forget to include one crucial step from the instructions or a key ingredient from the list? You don’t. Fortunately, internet commenters in the food blogosphere are pretty good about giving feedback. If they make a recipe, they will often comment saying so. If they made a substitution that worked well or poorly, they’ll let other people know. If something was gross, they’ll be sure to let other people know. My contribution to this is in the form of “pingbacks” – that is, links back to the original posts that will end up in the comment section with a link to my post here saying, “I made this, and this is how it turned out”.
Anyways – the point is that I decided I wanted to make some kind of savory scone for my December book club meeting, and so I got into my head that it would be cheddar, and I had some walnut pieces in the pantry, and why shouldn’t those go together. I did a little googling, and this recipe from Bon Appetit came up. Generally, I wouldn’t be as diligent in reading the comments on a professional magazine/publication because the recipes tend to be vetted and tested more thoroughly than random blog recipes. But this one…I scrolled all the way down, and I’m glad I did. Because while the recipe looked good, the reviews were not great. What did look promising was the first comment saying that the recipe could be fixed, and here were the correct ratios.
So I took a chance and plugged the ratios for those ingredients into the recipe and…it worked out! Instead of being “a waste of good ingredients” with the texture of a “leaden hockey puck” that tasted “Yuk!,” I got light scones that were crisp on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside, and studded throughout with melted cheese and bites of toothy walnut. The tops were sprinkled with a bit of sea salt, and all I can say is *mwaw*! (Imagine me doing the chef-finger-kissing gesture here).
So let this be a lesson. If you’re trying out an untested recipe, read the comments. Because instead of discovering the racist mouth-breathers who are the scum of the internet, you’re much more likely to find other helpful cooks, who want to make recipes better.
Cheddar Walnut Scones
Yield: 12 proper scones, plus trimmed bits
½ cup chopped walnuts
*2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for surface
2 tablespoons sugar
4½ teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
*5 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into pieces
6 ounces aged sharp cheddar, coarsely grated
*¾ cups chilled heavy cream, plus more for brushing
Flaky sea salt
Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and kosher salt in a large bowl. Add butter and toss to coat. Using your fingers, work butter into dry ingredients until pieces are pea-size. Add cheese and walnuts and toss to coat. Drizzle ¾ cups cream over and mix with a wooden spoon until dough just begins to come together.
Turn out dough and any loose flour onto a lightly floured work surface. Briefly knead to bring dough together. Roll dough to ¾” thick (the shape doesn’t matter). Using a bench scraper to help lift dough, fold in half and rotate 90°. Roll to ¾” thick, fold in half, and rotate again. Repeat process 2 more times for a total of 4 folds, lightly dusting with more flour as needed; this will create lots of flaky layers. Flatten dough to a ¾”-thick rectangle, about 10×7″. Chill, uncovered, at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 425°. Trim dough to 9×6″, then halve lengthwise. Cut each half into thirds crosswise to form six 3″ squares. Halve each on a diagonal (you should have 12 triangles).
Transfer dough to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Brush with cream and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake scones, rotating sheet halfway through, until tops are golden brown, 16–18 minutes. Trimmed edges of dough can be baked on a separate sheet at the same time, but be sure to watch them to see when they turn golden brown – about 12 minutes. These make for excellent tasters and snacks.
Transfer baked scones to a wire rack and let cool. Store in an airtight container or tightly wrapped at room temperature.