sage and white cheddar scones

There are very few foods out there that conjure up such clear and wonderful memories as scones do for me.

When I was much younger, every Saturday morning, my father and I would wake up early and go grocery shopping. It was the only time during the week that we could find to make these trips and I never quite understood why I wasn’t allowed to sleep in, but I always went along. The supermarket would be quiet and nearly empty, all food and vegetables fresh as we’d make our way up and down the aisles. Our last stop would always be the bakery section – as it still is today – where we would carefully select three scones, sometimes all different, sometimes all the same.

Upon returning home – after unpacking – the three of us (my father, my mother, and myself) would gather in the living room with our scones, butter, and raspberry jam and watch the new episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 on the SyFy Channel (back when it was still the SciFi Channel).

I was really nervous about making these. There’s something different about baking something rather than throwing a pasta dish together or roasting chicken. If you get one thing wrong with pasta, you can usually add something to fix it. You screw up with baking? You don’t know until after you pull it out of the oven and by then there’s nothing you can do.

And I don’t trust myself to do anything right.

The recipe looked easy enough but that meant nothing to me (~oh vienna). I’ve ruined cookies from a tube. And nobody ruins cookies from a tube. Except me. Somehow, still, even with an easy recipe and simple ingredients (I only had to buy one thing off the list), this seemed entirely daunting. I mean… scones? Scones. They just sound like they should be difficult. Like an amateur such as myself shouldn’t dare even attempt to think I could master such a thing. But then I turned on my music and took off my ring and put my hair up and said to myself I CAN DO THIS. I AM A CHAMPION.

So far so good. I’m one of those people who check the measurements on the recipe about five times before I actually go about putting the amount into the bowl. There was a lot of “That’s a four! A four! Four. Four!” going on in my head while measuring the baking powder especially. A note: if you don’t have rubbed sage (as I’m guessing most people don’t), I’m pretty sure that ground sage would be fine. But don’t just take my word for it. I could be wrong. If you can find rubbed sage though, I recommend you get it. It’s very pretty.

Cheese! I probably could have used any kind of cheese actually (and I might, someday. Could you imagine this with Monetary Jack? Or Swiss! Mmm) but I decided to follow the recipe exactly this time around. I’ve got plenty of time in the future to mess around with it.

I almost accidentally poured out a cup and a third of half-and-half which, admittedly, might not have been a complete disaster. The recipe called for a “dijon-type” of mustard but, unfortunately, the only dijon-types of mustard we have are spicy and I wasn’t one-hundred percent sold on using spicy mustard. Luckily, we had honey mustard which I know for a fact goes well with cheese, especially cheddar (try it on a sandwich – you’ll thank me).

Mixing the dough in the bowl was kind of a pain and it’s a little frustrating and disheartening to mush and fold it with a fork only to have parts of the flour not stick but once you take it out of the bowl and begin to knead it on your counter, it’ll come together really well.

These wedges were huge. I was surprised, after cutting the flattened dough into pieces, to see how big the scones were supposed to be. I thought about cutting them smaller but I decided against it. I’ll mostly be eating these for breakfast and I’d rather have one big one slathered with butter than try to maneuver with two smaller ones. If you’re making these specifically to go with soup (because, yes, these would be great with soup, especially a corn chowder) I’d probably think about making the wedges smaller and easier to eat with one hand or dip into your bowl.

After poking holes, brushing with half-and-half and sprinkling the last of the cheese on top, I popped them in the oven. Sixteen minutes later, I approached the oven cautiously and slowly pulled them out. They were perfect. I quickly used a spatula to put one on a plate and greedily consumed it, condiment free, as it was still hot.

I’m already planning on making these again come Christmas time. Who knows, maybe it’ll be a new scone tradition.

Sage and White Cheddar Scones
from Country Living.

4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
1 1/3 cups milk
1 tablespoon dijon (or honey) mustard
1 tablespoon half-and-half

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease a large baking sheet and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, sage, and paprika. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in the shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in 1 1/4 cups cheddar cheese and the parmesan cheese; set aside.

In a 2-cup liquid measure, stir together milk and mustard. Add to cheese mixture; mix lightly with a fork until mixture clings together and forms a soft dough.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently 6 to 10 times. Divide in half. Using lightly floured rolling pin, roll one dough half into a 7-inch round, cut into 4 wedges. Repeat with remaining dough half. Cut wedges into smaller pieces if you’d prefer.

Place wedges, spaced 1 inch apart, on prepared baking sheet. With the tines of a fork, pierce the tops. Brush the tops with half-and-half and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup cheddar cheese.

Bake scones until golden brown, 15-18 minutes. Enjoy.

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