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I feel as if I grew up in the age of the scone. I remember when coffee shops started carrying them, and it was a great treat when my mother made them at home. Now, scones are old hat. Not that they are any less delicious. In fact, they may be more so now that many of us have actually gotten the hang of making them. But does the world really need another scone recipe?
I feel as if I can't properly answer that. As a baker, my inclination would be to assert that there can never be enough scone recipes. I have no problem ushering another one into my repertoire. I do think, however, that the modern scone should be more than "good with coffee" or "studded with cranberries." Scones are versatile in flavor, and so they should be versatile in how we serve and think of them.
One of the many benefits to having a good scone recipe under your belt is being able to whip up something impressive in a hurry. Once you figure out how to make a basic scone, you need never fear impromptu breakfast entertaining again. Kids forgot to tell you about the bake sale? Whip up a double batch of scones. Need quick breakfasts for the week? Bake some hearty, healthy scones, freeze them, and thaw them out as you need them.
But scones should not strictly be limited to the breakfast nook and tea service. They happen to make exceptional companions to soups and salads as well. Simply scan your kitchen for savory additions and go from there. Bacon, olives, chopped herbs, grated cheese, and even pesto are superb in scones. My recent favorite, prompted by the gigantic sack of it in our fridge, is kale. Stripped of its tough stems and finely chopped, kale is hearty enough to stand up to scone batter. Add a little strongly flavored cheese, and you have the perfect accompaniment to bean or tomato soup or an entrée salad.
You may wonder why, as this is a recipe for savory scones, I bother adding any sugar at all. Sugar is important in baking not only for adding sweetness, but also for keeping baked goods moist. Of course, there are other means of achieving tender breads, as evidenced by the best southern buttermilk biscuits, but I find that a little sugar keeps my savory scones perfectly moist and balances the overall flavor.
These scones can be made the traditional way by cutting in the butter with a pastry blender. You can also make them in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Simply combine the dry ingredients in the bowl, add the cubed cold butter, and let the mixer run on low speed until the butter resembles small peas and the mixture is fairly homogenous. Add the liquid ingredients with the mixer running until they are incorporated and a sticky dough is formed.
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Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
In a large bowl, combine:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (feel free to replace half the all-purpose with whole wheat or spelt flour)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Add and cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal:
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small cubes
Add and stir to combine:
1/2 cup grated parmesan (2 ounces)
Combine in a separate bowl:
3/4 cup whole buttermilk
Add to the dry ingredients, stirring a few times to incorporate slightly. Add:
2 packed cups kale, trimmed of any tough stems and finely chopped
Stir to combine until the dough just comes together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly. Flatten into a 1-inch disk and cut into 8 wedges.
Place the wedges on the baking sheet and brush with:
Bake until golden brown, about 12 to 16 minutes. Serve warm.