The #1 Best Cheddar Scones
Yesterday was National Scone Day, so how else to celebrate that than to make a batch of scones? I can always enjoy a nice scone (or biscuit, if you are of the North American variety) any time of the day. I feel the one thing that makes a scone perfect is the mix of fine grain butter and thick pieces of butter to make a perfectly tender and flakey product – the perfect mix is heavenly. Your choice of condiment also makes a huge difference in how you perceive tastes. Sure, butter goes well with anything warm, but what about some orange marmalade with a chocolate scone, or maple butter with a blueberry scone? This scone recipe brings me back to grade nine, in 2013, when we were first introduced to the basic mixing methods. This recipe uses the scone mixing method – who would have thought? Simply start by cutting your solid fat (we are going to use cold butter) into small chunks, then use your fingers to rub the fat into the dry ingredients, the recipe is finished off by mixing in the liquids and baking it off. I’ve paired these cheddar thyme scones with a lightly spiced applesauce. The slight sweetness of the apples cuts through the sharpness of the cheddar cheese and gives you this perfectly balanced bite.
The Story of the Cheddar Scone
Taking a look back at my time in my high school's culinary program, this was a staple recipe. We would always be making these scones for catering events, morning, afternoon and evening. This recipe is just so versatile and easy to make, it fit every need! I still make these scones from time to time at home, hence why they are on this blog! With a few adjustments, this is quite notably one of the best scone recipes I have ever made.
Cheddar Scone Ingredients
Normally, when making pastries, we would use cake or pastry flour. With scones, it is not necessary to use those types of flours. Using all-purpose flour is perfect for scones. All-purpose flour has a 'normal' amount of gluten in it, allowing the scones to be just the right amount of fluff while keeping their shape. The main reason why we would not use pastry flour in these scones, in particular, is because of the cheese. The cheese creates a large amount of grease in the cooking process, and the all-purpose flour has the gluten structure to hold up with the grease, keeping the scone's integrity.
Baking powder is a super useful chemical leavener. Using baking powder allows the scones to rise, without needing leaveners like yeast. Baking powder is normally double-acting, meaning that the chemical reaction creating carbon dioxide to raise the scones takes place when the baking powder reacts with a liquid, and also heat from the oven. For this reason, baking powder is preferred over baking soda.
The use of butter in scones is two-fold. Butter is the primary raising agent in scones, causing the massive lift and layers. By forcing the butter into small pieces, these pieces laminate, or spread, themselves throughout the dough, making small layers of butter and dough. When the butter is melted in the oven, it continues to heat causing the butter to boil and eventually evaporate, causing the steam to create space between the layers which makes the scones flakey.
Strong Cheddar Cheese
I love myself a strong cheddar cheese. I feel that often times, the best cheddar is white, which is not the best to use for these scones. Albeit, there is not incorrect cheese to use, orange cheddar adds much-needed colour and the signature cheddar flavour.
Adding thyme to these scones compliments the cheddar perfectly. The woody aroma of the thyme contracts the sharpness of the cheddar, allowing a balanced palette.
By using cream, we increase the amount of fat in the recipe, keeping these scones rich. While there is a lot of fat, the fluffiness from the all-purpose flour and the layering of the butter allows there to be a stark contrast. In this case, cream is a prime liquid over buttermilk, as it does not increase the acidity of the scones.
Cheddar Scone Methodology
To make the applesauce is simple, peel, core and cut the apples, and throw them in a pot with the spices. Add the water, and cover. Let it simmer for 30 minutes on medium heat and it's done! Once the apples start to get mushy, use a fork or spoon to mash them up, leaving as many, or as few, chunks as you wish.
To make this into an apple butter, you can remove the spices and then blend it into a fine paste. Place it back on the stove on low heat and simmer until it becomes thick and glossy. I couldn’t do this because I don’t have a blender on hand, but here’s a picture of what my finished applesauce looked like.
Scones are quite simple to make. The hardest part is getting the perfect grain of butter, which even then, is quite simple. First, take the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and chopped thyme leaves and combine them in a bowl. Mix them up until well combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and cream. Now is the weird part. Divide your butter into thirds. Using a cheese grater, grate two-thirds of the butter into the flour mixture and cube the rest. Rub the flour and grated butter together until it resembles cornmeal, like the image below.
Now, you will incorporate the cubed butter and rub it in between your thumb and index finger, so that the cubes resemble corn flakes, like so.
Grate in your cheese and mix it up. Pour in the liquids and stir until it forms a shaggy dough. Pour it out on your work surface and fold it a couple of times to bring it together. Now flatten it to about a 1-inch thickness and cut into your desired shape. I chose to make them into 3-inch circles, but the shape is up to you. You can make them into triangles or squares if you so wish.
Now they go into a 400°F oven (375°F convection) for 20-25 minutes until they are golden brown on top. No need for an egg wash, they will turn golden on their own! Serve them warm with some warm apple sauce and enjoy!
The #1 Best Cheddar Scones
4 apples (peeled, cored and diced)
1 2” cinnamon stick
2 green cardamom pods
Cheddar Thyme Scones
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp fresh thyme (finely chopped)
½ cup cream
¾ cup butter (cold)
½ cup cheddar cheese (grated)
Place all ingredients in a pot and cover. Turn on heat to medium.
Let cook for 15-20 minutes.
Turn off heat and mash apples until the apple sauce becomes your desired consistency.
Cheddar Thyme Scones
Preheat oven to 400°F/375°F convection.
In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, black pepper and thyme.
In a separate bowl, mix together the cream and eggs.
Separate the butter into thirds. Cut one third of the butter into cubes and grate the other two thirds of the butter.
Using your fingers, combine the grated butter into the flour mixture and rub together until it resembles cornmeal.
Add in the cubed butter and press between your fingers until it resembles corn flakes.
Grate in your cheese and combine.
Pour in the liquids and stir until it forms a shaggy dough.
Pour the dough out on a work surface and fold it a couple of times to bring it together.
Flatten the dough to about a 1-inch thickness and cut into your desired shape.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.
This recipe is based on a recipe created by Chef Kent Van Dyk.