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For me scones are an essential part of any breakfast or coffee shop menu. I suspect they’re served in most bed and breakfasts in North America at one time or another and are a traditional treat in the UK (warm scones with Devonshire Cream – yum!). They are comforting, delicious and easy to make if you have a gentle hand – definitely a mainstay in our breakfast menus at the Bee & Thistle and one of my all time favorite foods. I am inspired to write about scones today by a lovely guest from the southern U.S., who is very familiar with baking biscuits but who hasn’t yet tried her hand at scones. My curiosity was piqued by our conversation so I had to take a quick look at the web to see if anyone knew where and when the heavenly scone was invented. First of all, no one seems to know for sure how this word is pronounced, so I’m glad I’m not the only one who is never sure which way to say it! According to Wikipedia, the word is pronounced as “skawn”, or “skahn” (rhyming with “fawn”) in Scotland and Northern England, while in Southern England it is pronounced as “skoan” or “skown” (rhyming with “stone”). Wikipedia also says that the latter pronounciation came to the United States and Canada, though I certainly hear it both ways here in Vancouver. Several sources on the web say that the first known mention of a scone was printed in a translation of The Aenaid written by a Scottish poet named Gavin Douglas in 1513 A.D. Of course it would be a Scot who invented such a wonderful treat - something warm and comforting for those chilly damp mornings (such mornings as we’ve also been known to experience here in Vancouver on rare occasion!). Scones in general, and certainly the ones we make at the Bee & Thistle, can be either sweet, such as our very decadent Cherry & White Chocolate Scones, or savory containing cheese and onions, scallions, chillies or other flavorful ingredients. So, after all this preamble, here’s the recipe that Martha requested, which I adapted from a recipe from one of my favorite blogs – Farmgirl Fare’s Savory Cheese & Scallion Scones (http://www.farmgirlfare.com):
Feta Cheese & Scallion Scones
3 cups unbleached flour
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
4 scallions (green onions) finely chopped
1 cup half & half cream
1 egg + 1 tsp cream (beat well)
Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine flour, baking powder & salt in large bowl. Cut in butter with pastry cutter or rub in with your hands until butter is the size of peas (do not blend more than this or the scones will be tough). Add cheeses and scallions and toss with a fork until combined. In separate bowl, beat cream with egg until blended then gently fold into flour mixture. Do not over mix! Add 1 or 2 T. more flour if dough is too sticky. Turn dough out on to a floured surface. Pat into a circle approximately 3/4″ thick. Cut into 8 triangles as you would a pie. The key to tender scones is to handle the dough gently in order to retain the little pea size bits of butter. Brush lightly with the egg wash. Place triangles on to a baking sheet and pop in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes or until golden brown on bottom and tops are lightly brown. I serve these with chive butter made by whipping softened butter with finely diced chives. Allow the chive butter to sit t room temperature for a few minutes before serving in order for the flavors to blend.