Almost healthy, and filling as well, these scones make a great grab-and-go breakfast treat. ALAN BENNETT/Journal Tribune

Almost healthy, and filling as well, these scones make a great grab-and-go breakfast treat. ALAN BENNETT/Journal Tribune

I’ve never met a scone I didn’t like.
 
In fact, scones are my favorite of the many breakfast pastries, surpassing doughnuts, croissants and muffins by far.
 
There’s something so sensory about tearing into a warm scone. With its flaky layers engulfed in billowing steam, its slightly-sweet aroma perfuming the room and, with the slightest crunch from a crust of sugar on top, a scone is the perfect ménage of flavors and textures.
 
Living in Portland, every few days I journey to the West End to grab a scone and iced coffee from Tandem Coffee + Bakery on Congress Street. Here, magic does exist: I’ve come to love the plum and rosemary scone best, with the apple and feta variation coming in a close second.
 
I’ve never been one for the sweetest breakfasts — doughnuts don’t come near my desk before noon — and so here I’ve taken a lesson out of Tandem’s book and combined sweet and savory ingredients, resulting in a complex mix of flavors.
 
I must thank my colleague, Tammy Wells, for her generous donation of a chive plant that is sure to fuel inspiration for the remainder of the summer. In my first round of experimentation with my gracious gift, I immediately thought how I could turn a breakfast classic — the bagel with chive cream cheese — into pastry form.
 
I’ve achieved that goal with the employment of goat cheese, which brings an appealing tang to the mix. To balance the savory notes, I’ve added chopped, fresh apricots, which burst with jammy goodness once bitten into.
 
I’ve used a mixture of whole wheat and all-purpose flours, here. In my first attempt, I used all whole wheat and, while good, they were a little too dense for my liking, so I combined the two. You could skip whole wheat entirely, though I do enjoy its nutty flavor.
 
The true trick with pastries of this type is to use very cold ingredients — cold butter, cold eggs and cold cream. In the oven, when the water in these ingredients begins to evaporate, steam creates pockets we refer to when eating as “flakes.” I keep my butter cubed and in the freezer until just before I use it.
 
A note on the vodka: it’s not for taking shots. Because vodka contains both alcohol and water, and the two boil at different temperatures, the addition of vodka helps make the scones flakier during baking.
 
But, if you use a little of that vodka mixed with some apricot purée and maybe topped with a little Prosecco — a riff on an Italian Bellini — I won’t be one to judge.
 
— Staff Writer Alan Bennett can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or [email protected]

With the assertive flavors of chives and goat cheese, and the tender sweetness of apricots, these scones are a summertime delight. ALAN BENNETT/Journal Tribune

With the assertive flavors of chives and goat cheese, and the tender sweetness of apricots, these scones are a summertime delight. ALAN BENNETT/Journal Tribune

Chive, goat cheese and apricot wheat scones

Time: 1 hour
Serves: 12
 
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour, more as needed
2 tablespoons sugar, plus more for topping
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 stick very cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 large egg
1 cup heavy cream, plus more for baking
¾ pound fresh apricots, pitted and cubed with skins left on
2 tablespoons finely-chopped fresh chives
6 ounces unflavored chevre or other creamy goat cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon cold vodka
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch Kosher salt
 
Heat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
 
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, pulse together the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg until just combined. Add the butter, which should be very cold, and pulse until the butter is just broken up and the mixture looks like coarse sand.
 
Turn the flour mixture out into a large bowl and add the apricots. Toss gently to combine them in the flour — this helps them stay suspended — and do the same with the chives and cheese crumbles.
 
In a measuring cup or small bowl, combine the cream, egg and vodka. Make a well in the center of the mixture and, into it, pour the liquid ingredients and mix together to form a loose dough. It will be sticky. Add more flour a teaspoon at a time if necessary, to help the dough come together.
 
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and pat into a large rectangle, 1-inch in thickness. Cut into quarters, then into smaller triangles. You should have about 12 scones. Place onto the baking sheet, an inch or two apart — the farther apart, the crispier the edges — and brush with extra heavy cream.

Sprinkle each scone generously with sugar and bake 20 to 25 minutes, until the centers are set and the tops are golden brown.
 
Serve warm or at room temperature, with lots of butter or jam.


Comments are not available on this story.