LS baking academy: biscuits & scones

(sun-dried tomato, comté and tarragon scones, to be specific)

You know I welcome the chance to turn a sweet recipe savoury, but with the recipes I make for the le sauce baking academy, it’s not always that easy. When I chose to focus on biscuits and scones, I knew I had my chance. I came across a scone recipe on Chocolate and Zucchini, and though that version with cheese and dried pears sounded lovely, I opted to tweak it to one that I’d find even more satisfying. It may not be a scone you eat at breakfast, but then again, why not? I have, twice this week. It’s not overly complex–the sun-dried tomatoes are minced so you never trip over a chewy piece, and the tarragon adds an essence more than a strong flavour. Comté is, well, comté, it is bold. But that’s what you want in a cheesy scone. 

And though this was my first time making scones, I can already see why everyone regards them as easy. No machinery, no real kneading, you sort of just coax the dough together. In the end, you have that familiar biscuit/scone texture: dense yet layered with an outside only slightly crisp. The fact that I felt I could play around with the recipe my first time out is indicative of how un-intimidating this is. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to hear from those of you who make scones every weekend!

This is, after all, the le sauce baking academy where those of us who can’t, rely on those of you who do. Please leave tips about and links to your scone or biscuit pursuits in the comments on this post, and I’ll be back on October 5 with a follow-up post and recipe based on that learning and more scone exploration. Thanks!

Sun-dried Tomato, Comté and Tarragon Scones 
(Adapted from More from ACE Bakery via Chocolate and Zucchini)

180 g (1 1/3 c) all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
Pinch of ground cayenne pepper (or better yet, piment d’Espelette)
3/4 tsp kosher salt
75 g (6 tbs) unsalted butter, diced
85 g (1 c) coarsely grated comté (or another aged firm cheese like gouda or Parmesan)
20 g (2 tbs) minced, dry sun-dried tomatoes, or if packed in oil, drained, squeezed of any oil and blotted until dry
1 tbs finely chopped fresh tarragon (or basil, chives or dill)
100 ml (7 tbs) light (15%) cream
1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tbs fresh water

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cayenne pepper and salt. Add the butter and rub it into the dry ingredients with the tips of your fingers or a wire pastry blender, until the mixture forms coarse crumbs. Add the cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and tarragon, and blend with a fork.

Add the cream and mix it in gently with the fork until the dough comes together — add a tad more cream or ice-cold water if the dough is too dry. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured work surface, gather into a ball, and roll out into a 2-cm-thick (3/4-inch) circle. Cut out circles of dough using a 6-cm (2 1/2-inch) cookie cutter or juice glass and transfer onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving about an inch of space between each. Gather the rest of the dough into a ball and repeat the rolling and cutting steps until you’ve used up all the dough.

Use a pastry brush or the back of a teaspoon to brush the top of the rounds with the egg yolk mixture. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until puffy and golden, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the baking. Let cool on a rack for a few minutes and serve. The scones will keep for a few days at room temperature, wrapped tightly in foil. Reheat for five minutes in a warm oven before serving.

Makes 9 pieces.