When they think of scones, a lot of people think of a little sweet bread-like food with bits of fruit mixed in. Something like cranberry scones, or apricot scones, or even the Cherry Chocolate Scones we made the other week. But, we think they may be missing out on some great possibilities. One example is these caramelized onion scones, which, to our minds, sound like a perfect savory bread to have with some soup. We modeled these scones on Bouchon Cheddar Scones, and, if you’ve made those, you already know some of the best things about these scones.
Not only are these scones made right in the mixer, but they stay frozen until you bake them, making these scones perfect for a quick snack pretty much anytime. So, now, scratchers, let’s make scones.
If you’re daunted by the precise amounts for each ingredient, buy a digital scale. Then it’s just as easy to measure 107 grams of flour as it is to measure a cup. Really. The original recipe called for crème fraîche, but we find that we come very, very close with our scratched sour cream. Do not use store-bought sour cream, as it’s way too sour and not at all like fresh sour cream or crème fraîche. We think you’d be better off just using heavy cream. Yes, use cake flour; it’s lower in gluten, so your scones will be nice and tender. As far as cheese goes, remember that Parmesan cheese does not come in a green cylinder.
Procedure in detail:
Mise en place. With all these precise measurements, you’ll want to get everything ready before starting. We did it in this order. First, we measured and cut the butter into cubes and placed them in the fridge to keep chilled. Second, we measured the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar into our sifter set in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer and sifted. Third, we diced onion. Finally, we measured the cream and homemade sour cream. Believe it or not, just getting these things ready means you’re halfway done.
Caramelize onion. This is going to take a while, so, if you want, you can really get it started prior to measuring everything else. Simply melt a tablespoon of butter in a skillet over low heat. Add the onions, sprinkle with salt, and cook until nicely browned. The slower you cook the onions, the better they will be, so don’t be tempted to rush through — ours took about 50 minutes. Just take your time, and let the onions cook, while you stir them around to keep them from burning. When your onions are nicely browned, taste, and add more salt if needed, and some pepper, too. Remove from heat and set aside.
Add salt and mix. Place the bowl of flour on the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the salt and run the mixer on low for about 15 seconds to mix the dry ingredients. We add the kosher salt now because the large crystals don’t go through the sifter.
Add butter. Take the pieces of butter from the refrigerator and scrape them into the flour mixture. Now quickly pulse the mixer off and on to start incorporating the butter. Pulsing like this will make it less likely that flour will shoot over the top of the bowl and onto the counter (and the floor). Once you think the flour won’t shoot out, turn the mixer on low and let it run for about 3 minutes until all the butter is incorporated. If there are any pieces of butter still visible, break them apart and incorporate them into the flour with your fingers.
Add cream and crème fraîche. With the mixer on low, slowly pour in the cream and crème fraîche and continue to mix until all the dry ingredients have been moistened and dough forms around the paddle, about 30 seconds.
Add onions. Add the caramelized onions and pulse the mixer on and off until just mixed in.
Shape. Scrape the dough out of the bowl and onto a clean work surface. Using the heel of your hand and a dough scraper, shape the dough into a rectangle that’s roughly 7×9 inches in size.
Refrigerate. Wrap the dough in plastic and place it in the refrigerator to chill for about 2 hours.
Cut. Once the dough is chilled, take it out and place it back on the work surface. Cut the dough in half length-wise to make two rectangles, each about 3 1/2 x 9 inches. Then cut each rectangle cross-wise into six equal pieces about 3 1/2 by 1 1/2 inches in size. Transfer each to a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat, leaving space between each scone.
Freeze. Wrap everything in plastic and place in the freezer until solid, at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight. Yep, scones for breakfast! After the 2 hours, you can transfer the scones to a plastic bag and they’ll keep in the freezer for up to a month.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Move a rack to the center of the oven and line a baking sheet with parchment (preferred) or a silicone baking mat.
Top. Place scones on the prepared baking sheet, leaving about an inch of space between them, brush the tops with heavy cream, then sprinkle on grated cheese and a bit of black pepper.
Bake. Slide into the oven and bake until golden brown and puffed, about 33 to 36 minutes.
Cool. Let the scones cool completely on the baking sheet before serving (if you can wait that long; we couldn’t).
Once again, a recipe that turns everything we thought we knew about scones upside down. We thought the dough had to go together with a light hand, then be cut and baked immediately. But, this recipe has you freeze the scones before baking. Who knew? And, as expected, they turned out perfectly. Crispy on the exterior, and tender on the inside, with just enough onion to give them a savory bite. And, they’re easy to make up, too. Sure, it seems like a lot of work, measuring so precisely, but it really isn’t, and, if you want great scones, it’s worth it. An easy five stars.