Aged Gouda and Dried Pear Scones Recipe

Scones au Gouda Vieux et Poires Séchées

[Scones au Gouda Vieux et Poires Séchées]

Before we begin, I would like to address the scone/biscuit question. To Americans, a biscuit is the hand-held version of a quick bread, leavened with baking powder. Usually round and savory, the American biscuit may be served in place of bread to accompany a main course, especially if said main course involves a gravy component. The closest equivalent the British and the French can think of is the scone, thus named in honor of the Scottish Coronation Stone I believe, but most scones I’ve come across are sweet — though subtly so — and served for breakfast or tea with clotted cream and jam (yum). There are scones in America, too, but in my experience they are most often triangular, sweet as a muffin, and meant to be eaten on their own, sans spread.

To the British and the French, who have such a long history of seeing eye to eye on everything, a biscuit (from the Old French bis cuit, twice baked) is a thin, crisp, and usually round confection that Americans would call a cookie, a term that the French themselves use for what they think of as American-style biscuits — round, large, and loaded with chocolate chips.

I am telling you, somebody out there is trying to make the life of the transatlantic food writer more difficult than it really needs to be. In any case, the golden rounds I baked the other day were what I would personally call savory scones, but because I am a very tolerant, live-and-let-live person, I’ll let you decide what name seems the most fitting to you.

The idea for them came as I was leafing through the very refreshing More from ACE Bakery cookbook, which its author, Linda Haynes, sent to me: on page 28 was the picture of a (sweet) oatmeal scone, flavored with dried pears and hazelnuts, sitting side by side with a (savory) cheddar chive biscuit that called for aged white cheddar.

Both sounded very good, but seeing as I had dried pears in a tin box on my counter and a hunk of 36-month-old gouda in my fridge, the two recipes somehow merged in my mind and became aged gouda and dried pear savory scones.

Linda’s biscuit batter recipe produced a sumptuous texture — a crisp shell and a moist, slightly brittle crumb — and the gouda/pear pairing made for a very pleasing balance of flavors, the sweetness of the fruit responding to the discreet pungency of the cheese. We ate some of them with a carrot-cilantro soup while the rest was cut into bite-size pieces to nibble on with a pre-dinner drink the next day, but they would also be perfect for brunch or with a simple salad of greens.

Scones au Gouda Vieux et Poires Séchées

- 180 grams (1 1/3 cup) all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- a fat pinch of ground piment d’Espelette (substitute any moderately hot ground chili pepper)
- 3/4 teaspoon fleur de sel (substitute kosher salt)
- 75 grams (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, diced
- 85 grams (1 cup) coarsely grated 36-month-old gouda (substitute another type of aged firm cheese, such as comté, parmesan, or cheddar)
- 20 grams (3 tablespoons) diced dried pears
- 100 ml (7 tablespoons) light (15%) cream
- 1 egg yolk, beaten with a tablespoon fresh water

Makes 9 pieces.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, piment d’Espelette, and salt. Add the butter and rub it into the dry ingredients with the tips of your fingers or a wire pastry blender, until the mixture forms coarse crumbs. Add the cheese and pears, and blend with a fork.

Add the cream and mix it in gently with the fork until the dough comes together — add a tad more cream or ice-cold water if the dough is too dry. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured work surface, gather into a ball, and roll out into a 2-cm-thick (3/4-inch) circle. Cut out circles of dough using a 6-cm (2 1/2-inch) cookie cutter or juice glass and transfer onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving about an inch of space between each. Gather the rest of the dough into a ball and repeat the rolling and cutting steps until you’ve used up all the dough.

Use a pastry brush or the back of a teaspoon to brush the top of the rounds with the egg yolk mixture. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until puffy and golden, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the baking. Let cool on a rack for a few minutes and serve. The scones will keep for a few days at room temperature, wrapped tightly in foil. Reheat for five minutes in a warm oven before serving.

[Adapted from More from ACE Bakery, Cheddar Chive Biscuits, page 30.]

Cooking/baking time: 25 min

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  • Jen

    Oh my goodness!! These sound soo delicious. Bravo on this genius combination. Gouda and pears are two of my favorites in there respective food categories and scones are my breakfast of choice. I cannot wait to make this, Clotilde.
    Thanks so much.

  • http://bluekitchen.wordpress.com Terry B

    These. Sound. Fabulous. And coming from the left side of the Atlantic, I loved your take on all the names for small, round baked goods. One thought I had after reading your recipe [besides I want to eat an entire batch right now, I mean] was what if you either reserved a little gouda or grated a little extra and sprinkled it on the scones hot from the oven. a nice finish or too much?

  • http://www.cookandeat.com/ L

    Nice adaptation! I got a copy of the same cookbook, and I’m quite enjoying it.

    Love the photo of the scone… I love the scalloped edges.

    -L

  • wouter

    What an incredibly strange looking Gouda… (I grew up 15 km from the place, between the cows producing it ;-))

  • http://www.paristriptips.com paristriptips

    Delicious! I make scones often, but these are over the top!

    THank you.

  • Christopher Harley

    I ran into this same problem several years ago when traveling through SE Asia. I don’t remember how it came up, but I mentioned the American tradition of biscuits and gravy to a fellow traveler from Australia. It would have made for a comical exchange to a casual eavesdropper to listen in as I ran the gamut trying to describe everything that an American biscuit was not and yet never being quite able to convince my new friend of what it was.

  • http://www.cardboardbox231.blogspot.com Michelle

    ‘Savory Scones’ gets my vote!

  • http://offog.org/ Adam Sampson

    No, scones aren’t named after the Stone of Scone, and they aren’t pronounced the same — the food rhymes with “upon” or “drone” depending on which dialect you speak, the placename with “moon”.

    The OED’s etymologists think it’s a cognate of German “schön”, coming from Mitteldeutsch “schoonbrot” (“fine bread”); they give some examples of baked goods with similar names in other languages, such as “skonrok” for “biscuit” in Icelandic.

  • http://www.aryeats.com maryeats

    My mom has a humorous “biscuit” anecdote I love to retell. When she was traveling in the UK in the 1980′s she and a friend stopped in to q posh looking place for tea. The waiter kindly asked if they would like a tray of biscuits. My mom and friend looked at each other, eyebrow raised (they both hail from the South, Louisiana to be exact), and politely declined. But as they sipped tea they kept noticing trays of mouthwatering cookies pass. Finally, my mom got up and asked if she could get a tray of those delicious looking cookies. “You mean the biscuits?” The waiter replied.

  • http://www.bakingandbooks.com Ari (Baking and Books)

    Such an exotic combination! Definately more than a nibbly nibble…. yum.

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Terry B – I personally prefer a smooth, egg-brushed top, but if you want to sprinkle the scones with a bit more grated cheese, Linda Haynes instructs you to do so halfway through the baking, as you rotate the baking sheet.

    Adam – Thanks for the etymological note! I gotta get me a copy of the OED…

  • http://elegantsufficiency.typepad.com Stephanie

    What a brilliant idea… as for cookie v. scone… as an Australian working in the HK offices of The Wall Street Journal until a year or so ago, I sometimes felt like I didn’t speak English – or at least not the same English as my American colleagues. Bluffed through my first two weeks pretending I knew what people were saying. The constant use of the word “sked” had me really bamboozled. Until I realised that what we pronounce as ‘shed-ule’, is ‘sked-ule’ to Americans.

  • http://www.drbrightside.blogspot.com drbrightside

    I enjoyed the cookbook as well. I love your site and visit it often. It is among the top that a view. This one I love as well, I lover diversity of choices. Check it out!

    http://www.tastesoflife.blogspot.com/

    Enjoy

  • http://wanderingeater.blogspot.com/ Tina

    Mg goodness! Aged Gouda and Dried Pear Scones sounds divine to eat! I think I tried that combination of fresh pears and Gouda cheese from one of my cheese plates but I never thought of creating that into a scone. Well, it explains why I’m not a food writer, just a food blogger and the occasional baker.

    Anyways, I really love your site and all the food photos you post looks good enough to lick the screen.

  • http://www.whereismydinner.blogspot.com/ vasilisa

    I’ll call it a cookie :-) But it looks completely delightful, and I’m looking forward to baking it, especially since I’m in the Christmas-is-coming-need-to-bake-cookies mode.

  • http://cyber-holidays.blogspot.com/ Casey

    I’ve lived in London for a few years and have come across some similar n peculiar British food habits. But being a true food-o-holic I have to admit ‘biscuits or cookies’ I love them all..

  • http://www.jacmus-prime.com Tina

    I’m an Australian married to an American and we have a few disagreements / confusions over words. Thanks for pointing out the biscuit and cookie difference – I am sure it too will one day cause mahem between us. I keep telling him that we speak a different language, but he doesn’t seem to understand that either!

  • http://blog.lemonpi.net Y

    What a perfect looking scone. I can’t wait to try the recipe. Was just thinking today that I would like to throw together a pear, pecorino and walnut salad, but maybe I’ll dry the pears instead and have scones!

    And by the way, congratulations on the book! :)

  • http://www.superfood.blog-city.com Richard Leader

    Sounds like a very good recipe! Would like to weigh-in on the biscuit/scone debate… we do have savoury scones in the UK as well – personally I like a cheese and herb scone sliced and served with butter. We also do alot of fruit scones, typically made with sultanas.
    Closest to the US ‘biscuit’ (in use at least) is the humble dumpling – though this is usually made with suet rather than butter. Given its rather heavy nature, the dumpling is somewhat out of fashion right now, but as the colder weather comes in, I find myself hankering for a rib-sticking stew with dumplings…

  • http://www.aminglingoftastes.com Julie

    I liked your review of the nomenclature here! I love scones in all their incarnations on either side of the Atlantic. I think it’s the dense texture that does it for me, as opposed to the light crumb of a cake. When I lived in London, it took me ages to figure out that a biscuit was really a cookie to me. You’ve also inspired a use for the very nice chunk of stilton in my fridge. Congratulations on your piece in the NY times magazine the other week. Very impressive!

  • Veron

    What a sublime combination! That looks absolutely yummy!

  • Mel

    You did not mention an odd use of the word scone in the American west — especially the state of Utah. There, a scone is a deep-fried flattened hunk of bread dough topped with honey butter. It is very similar to the frybread used in Navajo tacos.

  • JennyL

    Hi Clotilde,
    I’m lucky enough to be subscribed through my institution to the OED online. No idea what the individual rates might be…
    http://dictionary.oed.com/entrance.dtl
    Thank you for all your hard work and inspiration in the kitchen!
    Cheers,
    Jenny

  • http://80breakfasts.blogspot.com/ joey

    Ooh! These look really good and I have a hunk of aged gouda waiting to be used…

  • Brian

    Thanks for the pronunciation reminder, Adam. Hopefully, all the young, green Panera Bread carb-slingers are reading.

  • martha

    Ta Daaaaa! Small celebration on the East Coast of Canada – I have caught up to date with C & Z entries. Now, having read all the entries since Day 1 (Sep 2003)over the course of the past couple of weeks, the equivalent of taking the Trans C & Z Highway,(a very enjoyable trip, but missing out on interesting side trips) I am now returning in the other direction to meander down the enticing sideroads of soups,biscuits,cookbooks,cakes, etc… Life is good!

    And as a fan of biscuits, cheese and pears, may I say how fortuitous it was to arrive to today’s recipe!

    Clotilde, you’ve added so much entertainment and fun to my day…thank you! You’re doing a great job!

  • Melissa

    And if you make a savory cookie, then we call it a cracker – or a cheese straw if you cut them differently. It’s easy, you just make a basic shortbread recipe but replace some of the flour with grated Reggiano. Divine with the apero – je le jure!

  • Lily

    I’m making these biscuits for an Autumn Food fest party this weekend! Great idea. Thanks.

  • http://passionatekitchen.blogspot.com Silvia

    These scones sound delightful. I will have to give them a try. My daughter loves pears and she would enjoy making them with me. The use of the word biscuit is very interesting to me. I grew up eating my grandmother’s biscuits in the American south which were made with shortening, buttermilk, and self-rising flour.

  • http://www.littlefoodies.blogspot.com foodiemama

    yum. i just bought some extra sharp gouda from the farmers market..i will try this!

  • http://frenchkitcheninamerica.blogspot.com Mimi J.

    Oh my goodness — how wonderful this combination sounds. I will certainly make them as soon as possible.

  • Carlo Balistrieri

    I’m definitely trying this one. Patience Gray in “Honey From a Weed” writes about ewe’s cheese and pears. It turns out a Tuscan pear and pecorino cheese ripen about the same time and are eaten together as a snack. The old saying is:

    Al contadino non bisogna
    far sapere quanto e buono
    il formaggio con le pere.

    (Don’t let the peasant
    know how good
    cheese is with pears)

    Well Clotilde, you’ve let the cat out of the bag!

    • Marya

      You could also translate that folk phrase as “You don’t have to tell the farmer how good are pears with cheese” — because he already knows! ;-)

  • Jen

    These were a huge hit. I made them this weekend (the pears I made during the week), super simple and definitely satisfied the sweet-savory craving.
    My boyfriend loved them.

    Two problems though, 1) We couldn’t stop eating them; 2) they were all gone by Sunday evening…

  • Nancy

    The biggest difference between biscuits and scones is that biscuits are seldom made with butter. The fat is either lard (the old way – hard to find good lard these days) or shortening. Biscuits also have a good bit of leavening to make them rise. Nothing is as good as a hot biscuit with butter, but these scones were a close second. Delicioius.
    BTW, I saw last week that the OED is on sale right now for 800 U.S. dollars. The usual price is around 3000 U.S. dollars. This is for the printed version. No idea what the online version costs. I want the OED too.

  • Andrea K

    I just found your site! How wonderful it is! This recipe sounds wonderful, and I LOVE the ACE bakery. I’m very lucky to live in Toronto and enjoy their fresh breads all the time!

    I had to laugh when I read the bit explaining the British scone vs. the American biscuit. Try being Canadian where biscuit and scone, and biscuit and cookie are used interchangeably….

  • gina

    congratulations!
    may i subtitute the ingredient of 20 gr diced dried pears with grated fresh pears or tiny diced fresh pears (abate fetel pear or other local pear variety less juicy)? should i give it a try or not? thx in advance!greetings fm greece!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I would pick a less juicy variety, but yes, you can certainly use fresh pears in there! The scones may need to be baked just a tad longer to account for the extra moisture.

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