Roasted Pear and Cheddar Scones
Slightly adapted from “The Perfect Finish” by Bill Yosses and Melissa Clark
Don’t let the fussy instructions turn of you off this recipe. Yes, I know, roasting pears before you tuck them into a scone, seems a little over the top. But just trust me when I say, it’s totally worth it. Really. Roasting concentrates the pears’ essence, making them, somehow, even more pear-y and wintry. The original recipe features apples instead of pears – also very delicious. But in the dead of winter, I reach for a pear more often than for an apple. Either way, they are delightful and, I have a feeling, will take a permanent rotation in your breakfast and brunch baking routine.
You can even roast the pears the night before, cover them with a kitchen towel and wake up in the morning with only ten minutes of scone-making left (minus the baking time, of course). I tried making the scones with firm, slightly under-ripe pears and pears that were growing softer by the day, with ample juice. Both work equally well, the only difference being that you need to roast the juicy pears a bit longer until they dry up. You’ll know when they’re ready by gently touching them with your finger and feel that they’re on the drier side of things. However, if the pears are disintegrating in your hand, I say their time has passed, at least for their scone role anyhow.
2 firm pears (454 grams; 1 pound) – I used Anjou
1 1/2 cups (195 grams; 6.75 ounces) all-purpose flour (preferably Gold or Pillsbury brand – you want a lower protein count as far as scones go)
1/4 cup plus 1/2 tablespoons sugar (63 grams; 2.2 ounces) divided
1/2 teaspoon (3.5 grams) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (4 grams) fine sea salt, plus additional for egg wash
6 tablespoons (3 ounces; 85 grams) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup (65 grams; 2.25 ounces) coarsely grated white, sharp cheddar
1/4 cup (59 ml; 2 ounces) heavy cream
2 large eggs, divided
1. Position the baking rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a half-sheet baking pan (13×18-inches) with parchment paper.
2. Peel and core the pears and cut them into eighths. Cut each of those pieces into 4 pieces. Each pear should give you 32 pieces. Transfer the pears onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake about 15 to 20 minutes or until the pears take on a bit of color and are dry to the touch. If you use ripe (not mushy) pears that are juicy, you might want to roast them another 5 minutes so they dry up. Transfer the pears to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely. Transfer the pear pieces to a bowl, and reserve the sheet (and its parchment) nearby. (You can do this step the night before and leave the pears to cool, covered with a kitchen towel.)
3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt, and whisk together for 2 to 3 minutes until the mixture is sufficiently aerated. Set aside.
4. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter, reserved pears, cheese, cream, and 1 egg. Spoon the flour mixture all over, and mix on low speed until the dough just comes together. Do not overmix.
5. Generously flour a work surface and place the scone dough on it. Sift a light layer of flour on top of the dough. Using a rolling pin to gently roll the dough into a 1 1/4-inch thick 6-inch circle. Cut the circle into 6 wedges (they should measure about 2 1/2-inches at the outer edge) and transfer the scones to the reserved parchment-lined sheet (no need to change parchment!). Leave at least 2 inches between each scone.
6. Lightly beat the remaining egg with a pinch of salt. Brush the scones with the eggwash and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar. Bake scones for about 30 minutes or until firm and golden. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Serve scones warm with your best butter, jam, and/or clotted cream.
Makes 6 scones.