You know that old saying When life gives you lemons, make lemonade?  That’s cute and all, but I set much more store by this one: When your neighbor gives you pears, make pear scones.

I put pear in parentheses because the recipe actually calls for blueberries.  I had blueberries on hand at the time of this baking, but I chose to pound them down by the fistful straight from the container rather then waste them in a scone.  Summer is short in Minnesota.  I have to get my fresh berry fix when and where I can.

Going rogue

Another reason pear is parenthetical is that the day after I made pear scones, I made a batch of mango-peach scones.  So really, the recipe should be called Fill-in-the-Blank Scones.

I spent a good 20 minutes reading forgotten journal entries and perusing old travel photos of trips to England before something told me I should double-check myself.  Lucky I did, because according to the infallible Internet, scones didn’t originate in England.  They originated in Scotland.  Great news: I’ve been there.  Bad news: none of my pictures from that trip are digitized, necessitating a slog through several photo albums before I found what I was looking for.

A black hole of old photos, candles, yearbooks, and miscellaneous odds-n-ends.

Our visit to England’s northern neighbor can be described as a Scotland sandwich, nestled as it was between two slices of hearty English bread.  A missed train in Carlisle meant an unexpected five-hour layover in gritty Glasgow, but it gave us a chance to tour the city’s famous necropolis.

The UK has lots of great old cemeteries.

We arrived in Fort William at 10:00 pm where we were surprised to find it was still dusk.

We stayed right across from the Ben Nevis trailhead, never dreaming that climbing the highest peak in Scotland would one day be on our Dust-Farm-Pail List.

We ended our lightning fast tour of Scotland with a too-quick stay in Edinburgh that left many sights unseen.

Note the white socks paired with the sandals. #fashionista

I just remembered that this is supposed to be a recipe post.  Here it is:

(Pear) Scones

Recipe Adapted From: Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, no. 87, p. 22

Level of Difficulty: Low

Time Consumption: Low

Kitchen Destruction: Moderate, but contained.

Scones (13)
Messy, but manageable.

Wow Factor: Medium to high depending on who’s eating them.  People expecting dry hockey pucks will be especially impressed.  The neighbor who gave us the pears enthused, “I didn’t know I liked scones this much!”  He wrote this on a piece of paper, attached it to a bag of apples picked from a tree in his yard, and left the bag on our front stoop.  Is it just me, or is he expecting a slice of apple pie next?

Ingredients:

  • 16 TBS (2 sticks) butter, frozen whole
  • pears (I used about 9 small pears)
  • ½ C whole milk
  • ½ C sour cream
  • 2 C unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • ½ C sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • cinnamon and any other “autumn spice” spices you enjoy (cloves, nutmeg, etc.)

Directions:

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425°.  Score and remove half the wrapper from each stick of frozen butter.  Grate unwrapped ends on the large holes of a cheese grater, grating a total of 8 tablespoons.

Butter is so grate.

Place grated butter in freezer until needed.  Melt 2 TBS remaining butter and set aside.  Save remaining 6 TBS butter for another use.  

At Midwest state fairs, deep fried butter is a thing, so you might consider that for your leftover butter. Your cardiologist will thank you. Source: https://www.epicurious.com/archive/blogs/editor/2012/08/fried-butter-state-fair-food.html

Whisk together milk and sour cream in medium bowl; refrigerate until needed.  Whisk flour, ½ cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.  Add frozen butter to the flour mixture and toss with fingers until thoroughly coated.

Add milk mixture to flour mixture; fold with spatula until just combined.  With rubber spatula, transfer dough to liberally floured work surface;  Dust surface of dough with flour; with floured hands, knead dough 6-8 times until it just holds together in a ragged ball, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking.  Roll dough into approximate 12-inch square.

Twelve inches? Yes. Square? Not exactly.

Fold dough into thirds like a business letter, using bench scraper or metal spatula  to release dough if it sticks to the countertop.

This type of business letter requires extra postage.

Lift short ends of dough and fold into thirds again to form an approximate 4″ square.

Square? Yes!

Transfer dough to a plate lightly dusted with flour and chill in freezer for 5 minutes.

(Use these minutes to scroll through your social media.  You know you want to.)

Transfer dough to a floured work surface and roll into approximate 12-inch square again.  Sprinkle pears evenly over dough surface and press down so they are slightly embedded in the dough.  Sprinkle to taste with cinnamon and other “autumn spice” spices.

Peppered with pears and awaiting autumn spice application

Using a bench scraper or thin metal spatula, loosen dough from work surface.  Roll dough, pressing to form a tight log.

This dough is easy to work with. That’s not always the case. Some doughs have reduced me to tears and sent me into fits of rage.

Lay seam-side down and press log into a 12″ x 4″ rectangle.

Don’t let anyone tell you size doesn’t matter.

Using sharp, floured knife, cut crosswise into four equal rectangles.  Cut each rectangle diagonally to form 2 triangles and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet (preferably a rimmed sheet to catch butter drips).

Imprecise rolling equals 4 more scones.

Brush tops with melted butter (just a little on each scone or it will burn and, in my case, set off the smoke alarm) and sprinkle with sugar.

Hand-buttered Artisanal Scones made with REAL Urban Pears (eyeroll)

Bake until tops and bottoms are golden brown, 18-25 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Eat your fill and freeze the rest.

Confessions of an Imperfect Baker: Other than the measuring gaffes mentioned above, none!

Notes: If you decide to do mango-peach scones instead, leave off the autumn spices, unless experimenting with odd and potentially unpalatable flavor combinations is your raison d’être.

29 thoughts

  1. Grating frozen butter? A stroke of genius. A stick of butter, it turns out, is a purely American measurement. A friend asked me for a recipe once, and it included a stick of butter. She called to ask what one was. I can’t help thinking that she had a passing thought that I might be using it as a verb, not a noun.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s Cook’s Illustrated’s thing: make a recipe 500 times until you get it right, then write about the process and publish it with the recipe. I’m pretty sure the article that accompanied the recipe called the grated butter the key to making these scones perfect.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. When I see Scotland and scone in a sentence I immediately think of the Stone of Scone. 😉 I can see from your photos that your scones are not stone-like and look darned delicious. I’ve never seen a measuring device like your Cutruler. Very interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Irish scones are not as big and risen as the English variety; they are usually smaller, less sweet and a little flatter, this just means you get to eat more than one. They are often made with buttermilk and sultanas (some people even add currant) and the way we eat them here is with lots of butter and jam! Your recipe sounds delicious, I’ve never tried a pear scone before. Thanks for sharing and have a good day. Aiva

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great posting, I adore scones. Do you have a tip about where in the relation to the 10 minute window of pear ripening (between rock hard vs brown mush) is best for baking?

    I would think that a mango scone would be a massive nose thumbing to the culinary consistency squad, but too darn bad. It sounds delightful.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yum! I’ve made scones, but it never crossed my mind to make them with pears! Sounds like a good one, though, and I’ll have to try this recipe once I get my hands on some pears. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha! That’s too bad. The magazine from which I got the recipe has a mission to make items a zillion times to improve them. They, too, noted that scones are usually hard and dry and they set out to remedy that, which, happily, they did.

      Liked by 1 person

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