I’m a sucker for scones. Sweet or savory, doesn’t matter. Perhaps it’s part nostalgia: missing my husband’s Scottish grandmother who was said to make the most tender scones back in the day, a talent that her daughters were never able to duplicate to their satisfaction. I never got to try Katie’s scones, but I vividly recall her emphatically lecturing us on the proper pronunciation of “scone” — rhymes with on, not with cone.
I was directed to this recipe by a British innkeeper I know, who swears by Ina Garten’s books. To be honest, I was a little disappointed to learn that the magical creations that she served every morning were from a Barefoot Contessa cookbook. I wanted to believe that they were some passed-down-through-the-generations secret she had brought with her across the pond. No matter; they’re still delicious.
I’d made these once before, sometime last year, but didn’t follow the instructions very closely — my stand mixer was out of commission, and I was unable to find fresh dill in the middle of winter so I substituted a guesstimate amount (i.e. not enough) dried dill. The results were quite underwhelming. This time ’round, I had the use of my stand mixer and I had fresh dill (thanks, Trader Joe’s!), and the outcome was much better. That said, scones, like pie dough, are one of those things that require skill and a certain touch to make well, and those are lost when one doesn’t make scones all that frequently (“one” meaning me here). I was a little freaked out that I was simultaneously overhandling the dough, resulting in a big gloppy mess, and under-mixing, with big pockets of unincorporated flour, dill, and diced cheese. They turned out wonderfully, in spite of my cramming all the scones on a single half-sheet like a Tetris puzzle. I knew better, but I was under great time constraints and I was also heavily distracted by the opening day festivities on the television and had to sacrifice a few precious moments for some ugly crying. When the scones emerged from the oven, I did have to surgically separate them where they had fused together thanks to spreading and cheese ooze, but all in all, they were pretty freakin’ beautiful.