{recipe} Buttery Cheese and Asparagus Scones

Sounds weird, right? When have you ever had asparagus in your scones? But once Spring rolls around and asparagus is in season, I try to find ways to put it in everything–even a buttery, flaky scone laced with shredded cheddar cheese. So good!

asparagus scones

The trick to flaky, buttery scones is not to overwork the dough and not to let the butter get fully incorporated into the dough. Ideally you will have pieces of butter in the finished dough that are about the size of the lentil. When the dough cooks, these butter pieces boil and bubble, creating air pockets in the dough. That’s what gives your scones a tender, flaky crumb that melts in your mouth. The best way to ensure you don’t get the butter too small is to use an old-fashioned pastry blender, or your own cold hands. If you are careful, you can successfully do it by pulsing the dough in the food processor, but once the butter/flour stage is done, you should mix in the remaining liquid ingredients by hand with a wooden spoon.

I think any kind of cheese would work for these. I can’t wait to try them with feta in place of the cheddar. Also, I like to use some whole wheat flour for added texture, but you can use all white flour if you prefer.

RECIPE: Buttery Cheese and Asparagus Scones
makes 12 large scones

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 1/2 cups chopped asparagus, plus 12 asparagus tips, 2-3 inches long each (I used about 2 bunches of asparagus total)
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 cups white flour
  • 1 Tblsp sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 cup (6 oz.) cold butter, cut in cubes
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tblsp heavy cream (or buttermilk)

METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Put 3 1/2 cups chopped asparagus in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cover with a lid. Cook for 3 minutes. Drain and place in a bowl with ice water. Set aside. Repeat the process with the asparagus tips.
  • In a large bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Add cubed butter and cut the butter into the flour, until the butter is in pieces that are about the size of a lentil or a cornflake. (The best way to ensure you don’t get the butter too small is to use an old-fashioned pastry blender, or your own cold hands. If you are careful, you can successfully do it by pulsing the dough in the food processor, but once the butter/flour stage is done, you should mix in the remaining liquid ingredients by hand with a wooden spoon.)
  • Gently stir in 1 cup of the buttermilk. Add more as needed to make a moist (but not sticky) dough that just comes together. Most likely between 1 1/2 and 2 cups.
  • Drain the asparagus well. Gently stir in the white cheddar and the asparagus.
  • On a lightly floured surface, use half the dough and form it into a flat, even, round cake, about 10 inches in diameter. Cut into 6 wedges. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with other half of dough and other baking sheet.
  • Gently but firmly press an asparagus tip into each scone.
  • Whisk the egg and 1 Tblsp of heavy cream together with a pinch of salt. Brush liberally over the top of the scones and the asparagus tips.
  • Bake about 18-22 minutes, until golden and cooked through.
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