Why do I love making Parmesan Chive Scones?

Posted on June 24, 2011


Because I can!

I love making all scones of all flavors — blueberry, oatmeal raisin, orange cranberry, chocolate chip, cheddar herb — and everytime, I seem to get it right! Butter is such a delight to work with!

Every time I make scones (which is, oh, maybe once  a month or so), I use the same technique gleaned from America’s Test Kitchen, no matter the flavor. Perhaps I should try branching out to the other methods… but why? This one never seems to fail, and the scones always turn out delicious, and super flakey, and so cute! All the other recipes seem difficult, this one is easy. I know this method is quick and it works, so I’m sticking to it.

Umm… The kind of rhetoric I’m spewing sounds familiar. It’s sounds like the kind of thinking that leads people to turn into stick-in-the-muds who can’t be dissuaded from their convictions, become raging warriors armed to the teeth to defend their principles, and fancy themselves martyrs fighting to the death to prove their truth. (I guess I’m absorbing too much from those talking heads on CNN.)

But it’s easier thinking that way, you see. You don’t have to consider, weigh, measure, judge all the other options. It’s much easier to process the world when you are strongly tethered to at least one certainty (especially if it is certain that you will be getting delicious scones to eat every once a month or so…)

I suppose this kind of focused thinking is kind of smart if considered in terms of a cognitive adaptation. We process millions of pieces of information every day — increasingly more in the internet-savvy world where any and everything can be googled. Where would we be without any sense of conviction in such an information-saturated world? Probably no where, since we wouldn’t be comitted enough to decide on a destination, ha! But narrow-minded dedication in everything can be quite limiting. There are many destinations to choose from after all, and many roads that can be taken to get there.

So I know there are many recipes out there for all kinds of delicious, buttery, flaky scones. This recipes uses a few simple tricks that seem guarantee continued success — it uses frozen butter, which is grated, rather than cut to pieces to help with the flakiness. It also uses a very unique roll and fold method, which seems aimed at helping the dough to fluff up when baking. I mean, what can I say? It’s quick, easy, and it just works!

But I suppose I should be open to other suggestions… so please let me know if you have a recipe that you feel as strongly about as I do about this one… if you are convincing enough, I may just decide to give it a fat fair chance. 

Parmesan Chive Scones
adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

1 stick  (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, frozen
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream (I have substituted 1/2 cup plain yogurt here with success)
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus some for work surface
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chives, chopped
1/4 parmesan cheese, shredded
(If making a sweet scone recipe, add 1/2 cup sugar to flour mixture)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Grate frozen butter over large holes of a box grater. In a medium bowl, combine milk and sour cream, and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Work grated butter and chopped chives into dry ingredients until just combined.

Fold milk and sour cream mixture into dough with a spatula until fully combined. Knead dough with hands a few times until it holds together. Shape dough into a ball.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough into an approximate 12-inch square.

Fold dough into thirds, like a business letter.

Lift short ends and fold into thirds again to form an approximate 4-inch square.

Transfer dough to a plate lightly dusted with flour, and place in freezer to chill for about five minutes. (At this point, I usually clean up the grand mess I made.)

Return dough to floured work surface, and roll again into an approximate 12-inch square. Starting at one end of the square, roll dough to opposite end to form a tight log.

Lay seam side down and press into an approximate 12×4-inch rectangle.

Use a sharp knife to cut rectangle into fourths. Then cut each fourth in half diagonally to yield 8 medium scones. Cut in half diagonally again to yield 16 small scones.

Transfer scones to the baking sheet. Bake for 18 minutes, or until nearly baked through. Remove from oven, and sprinkle parmesan over top of each scone. Return to oven, and bake an addition 3-5 minutes, until scones are golden and cheese has browned. 

I served our scones — yes, of course, two each! — with a salad topped with apples, raisins, red onions, and walnuts, dressed in a honey balsamic vinaigrette for brunch!