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Sun-dried Tomato and Caramelized Onion Scones

May 19, 2008

There is a little bakery across the street that consistently makes the Jamaica Plain’s Best list as the best local bakery, and frankly, I have no idea why. Sure, they make vegan cupcakes, and JP is just the sort of neighborhood where people will swoon for a vegan cupcake. And yes, there is a shortage of places to get a cup of decent, non-Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. But nothing, I tell you nothing about this bakery has ever impressed me. The pastries and pies look sloppy: I could frankly do a better job in my own kitchen. The croissants are not proper croissants, but more like bread dough shaped to masquerade as croissants. I ordered a sandwich once and the bread on which it was served was stale. At a bakery! And I won’t even get into the abysmal service.

For reasons unknown to me, however, I still occasionally visit this bakery, as though somewhere I can’t give up hope that my previous bad experiences were flukes, each and every one. I can’t account for my actions sometimes. What is they say about crazy people? On my last visit (the visit of the stale sandwich), I noticed some roasted red pepper, spinach, and caramelized onion scones in the display case, and the hamster wheels in my little brain immediately started spinning. “What a brilliant idea!” I thought. But I was not about to buy one of their scones (vegan, of course) only to be disappointed. No, I decided to go home and make my own.

Having not tasted the Bad Bakery’s scones, I can’t say that mine are better. However, I can say that mine are awesome! I’m really pleased with how they turned out, and I can’t wait to try various other combinations. Sure, I was less pleased with the sticky, doughy mess that was left on my counter after they went into the oven, but sometimes you got a make a little mess before you get to the goodness at the end. Or an enormous mess, either way.

I started with a basic scone recipe I found randomly on the internets. It was the first thing that came up when I questioned the Great Google, so I don’t even know if there might be a better recipe out there somewhere. This one was perfectly serviceable, and is basic and flexible enough to handle any variation of scone craziness you might want to throw at it. I used a bit less sugar, because I really didn’t want the scones to be sweet. And while the dough had a sticky, hard-to-handle phase, it grew out of it easily the addition of a few small handfuls of flour. I thought they would be a little bigger, but that is my fault because I probably rolled them out too thin and used a too-small drinking-glass-cum-biscuit-cutter to cut them out. I am an imperfect cook. (Hey, it’s probably a good thing that they are small. They are good for snacking without feeling like you just ate a second lunch.)

I am also not that great at caramelizing onions, but it’s really ok. I accept my own flaws and weaknesses. I call them “quirks.” Sometimes I call them my “charms.” And I am lucky that my boyfriend seems also to find them quirkily charming, and not just annoying. At least, I hope so.

Sun-dried Tomato and Caramelized Onion Scones

  • 1 small onion
  • 2 T. butter
  • about 1/2 c. sun-dried tomatoes (I did not use the oil packed kind, and I had to chop them up into small bits because they came as tomato halves)
  • 2 c. flour (I used half all-purpose and half whole wheat)
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 T. butter, cut into small bits
  • 1 egg
  • about 3/4 c. milk

Slice the onions into thin rounds. You can probably slice them anyway you want. I just like to slice them into rounds for the caramelizing. Melt two tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet. When the butter has melted and the foaming has subsided, add the onions. Stir them enough to cover all the onions with melted butter, then lower the heat to low, spread the onions in a single layer in the pan, and leave them be while you chop of sun-dried tomatoes or do the dishes or something. Let the onions cook slowly, and only give them a quick stir every now and then, until they are soft and golden and translucent and maybe a little charred. I am impatient, see, and I never lower the heat as low as it should be and so I burn my onions and end up with a little bit of bitterness. But that’s ok. They are still good.

Remove the onions from the pan, and if you need to, chop them into smaller bits. The sun-dried tomatoes and the onions should be cut quarter-inch pieces.

Preheat the oven to 450F. In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Cut the butter into the mixture and use your hands (or a pastry mixer) to break up the butter a bit. You want the flour-butter mixture to form coarse crumbs. Once the butter seems pretty well incorporated with the flour, add in the egg. Stir it up a bit, and then add the caramlized onions and the sun-dried tomatoes.

Gradually add the milk, stirring to mix in all the flour. I started with half a cup, and then added another quarter of a cup, and it was just a tidge too much milk, so I added a bit more flour. You want dough that is kind of sticky, but not so much that you can’t work with it at all.

Turn the mixture out on a floured surface and knead it around a bit, just to be sure everything is mixed in well. Use a well-floured rolling pin to roll the dough out to about 3/4 of an inch or an inch thick. Use a round biscuit cutter or glass or just a knife to cut rounds or shapes or what have you out of the dough. Set the scones about an inch apart on a baking sheet. You could grease it, or use parchment paper. I did neither, and only a few of the scones stuck a little bit. But maybe I was just lucky.

Brush the tops of the scones with a little bit of milk, and toss them in the oven for about 10-12 minutes, or until they are a very light golden color.

Oh happy days. Breakfast is going to be tasty this week. I am already scheming about all kinds of other variations. I want to try to spinach, but I can’t decide if the spinach should be cooked before being mixed into the dough, or just cut into very small bits. And would bacon or sausage work in a scone? Goat cheese and chive? Parmesan and olive? Savory scones, you’ve opened up a whole new world for me. Where have you been all my life?

I guess I should thank the crappy bakery for inspiration, if nothing else.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Mr. X. permalink
    May 20, 2008 12:28 pm

    Rosmary, olive oil, green olive (picholines) and salt?

  2. May 22, 2008 7:49 pm

    What about gorgonzola and spanish jamon?


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