I wake up for work at 5:30 every morning. At this time of the year it’s still pitch dark outside (and cold, even for Arizona standards!), and it makes it very hard to get moving, much less to eat breakfast. All I want to do is turn off my alarm clock, send a text that says “Sorry I won’t be coming in today, I’m far too sleepy.”, and go back to bed.
Sadly, I don’t have that luxury, and I also have the added difficulty of scrounging up something for breakfast. For a very long time, I didn’t eat breakfast before heading off to work, but then I’d binge on any sweet item within arm’s length — cookies, cupcakes, leftover danish (working in bakeries is a bitch, ain’t it?). This was proving to be detrimental for both my waistline and my metabolism so I started eating a bowl of cereal every morning. Not quite thrilling, but tolerable when one needs something “breakfast-y”.
Oh, but if I knew I had one of these scones waiting for me, it might even spur me to wake up early. That’s saying a lot, cause I love me some sleep.
These scones are light and flaky, buttery without being overpowering, and just plain good. The best part, I think, are the salty, somewhat crispy little highways of cheese on top. The beauty of these scones is that they reheat extremely well wrapped in foil, in a low oven. Even better, the dough can be shaped and frozen so that fresh, hot scones are never more than about 30 minutes away. That’s when they’re truly at their best… fresh out of the oven. Don’t be upset if you burn your hands scarfing one of these awesome scones. I suspect you’ll forget all about your painful fingers right after that first bite.
herb + cheddar scones
(makes 2 rounds, 6 scones per round)
special equipment needed: 8 inch cake pan
680 grams all-purpose flour
138 grams granulated sugar
14 grams baking powder
3 grams baking soda
8 grams kosher salt
1 Tablespoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper (fresh-ground is best)
6 oz grated sharp white cheddar cheese, divided
454 grams (1 lb.) cold butter
1 large egg
3 grams cider vinegar
227 grams (8 oz) milk, plus more for brushing
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or in a mixing bowl by hand), combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, herbs and 4 ounces of the cheese. Mix on low speed until fully combined.
Chop butter into small pieces and add to the bowl. On low, mix until the butter is mostly incorporated. If you’re mixing this by hand, go ahead and use a pastry cutter or your hands to blend in the cold butter. There should be a few larger pieces scattered around the bowl, but mostly the butter should be combined with the flour so that it’s fluffy and slightly damp-looking.
In a measuring cup, beat the egg with a fork and add your milk and vinegar, and stir. With the mixer still on low, pour in the milk mixture in a steady stream (or stir with a wooden spoon). The dough will come together and look sticky. Keep mixing until the flour is completely incorporated, but not so long that the dough forms a cohesive ball.
Gather the dough together and divide in half. Line the 8 inch cake pan with plastic wrap so that it hangs over the sides by a good couple of inches. Place half of the dough on the plastic inside the pan, and flatten it into a disk, turning the pan as you go to help keep it even. Using your fingertips, press at the very edge of the dough to make sure the dough isn’t riding up the edge of the pan. Pull the excess plastic wrap over the disk and smooth the top, once again turning the pan to help keep it flat. Turn the pan over and shake out the scone dough. Repeat with the other disk. Freeze for about 30 minutes, or until the dough is firm but not solid frozen.
If you plan on baking the scones at a later time, they will keep well in the freezer for at least a few weeks. If you want to bake them right now (of course you do, don’t you?), use a pastry brush to brush the rounds with some milk, and sprinkle each round with one ounce of your remaining cheese. Cut the round in half, and each half into three wedges. Place the scones on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, no more than 6 per pan, and bake for 12 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for 12 minutes more. Depending on your oven, these might need another 2-4 minutes. The scones are done when they’re golden brown, the scones feel light when picked up, and you’re going mad from hunger.
If there are any scones left to save, they keep just fine for up to 3 days in an airtight container at room temperature. Better yet, freeze the leftover scones and pop them in a 350 degree oven on a sheet pan for about 10 minutes whenever the urge for something tasty should strike.