Let me tell you about one of the best recipes I’ve made in a long time. But before I do, a little bit about my husband Tom. He’s always been a good eater. Meaning, he’s adventurous and will try just about anything. This makes me beyond happy. Not only do we have a great time on vacation trying all kinds of weird foods – jellyfish noodles and blood sausage come to mind – but he’s usually willing to eat just about anything I put in front of him. With the exception of a few seemingly innocent ingredients.
When I first started cooking for him, he informed me that he didn’t really like tomatoes, winter squash or asparagus. (Mind you, he comes from asparagus country in Michigan, so I don’t know how this is possible. Michigan asparagus in June is amazing.) I finally convinced him that restaurant tomatoes are not the same, and now he loves juicy heirloom tomatoes. He also likes winter squash and asparagus. But some quirks remain. Like scones. He claims to not like scones. I told him it’s probably because he worked at a bookstore Starbucks and has only tried those. Good scones are not bland and dry. He shrugged.
So I saw a recipe for Bacon Date Scones in Bon AppÃ©tit and finally got around to making them (with a few tweaks of course). Let me tell you – these scones are a revelation! I am not at all exaggerating here. They are the best thing I’ve made in a long time. I swapped dried mission figs for the dates and added a healthy dose of black pepper. I also subbed half the flour for whole wheat pastry flour. The tops are brushed with bacon drippings and sprinkled with coarse sugar before baking.
They have a nice, sweet crust and tender crumb. They’re porky and smoky but not overwhelmingly so, and the slight sweetness from the dough and figs balances gives it a nice salty/sweet balance. If you like it when a little maple syrup gets on your bacon, you will love these scones. Tom has been converted. He’ll never hate on scones again. At least, not my scones.
Adapted from Bon AppÃ©tit, March 2011
Note: I actually made the dough the day before and refrigerated it 24 hours (instead of the 2 hours indicated). Brushed with the bacon drippings and sprinkled with sugar just before I put them in the oven. Great if you’re making them for guests and want them to be nice and fresh.
7 slices (about 10 oz.) thick, center-cut bacon slices
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup natural cane sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. coarse kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup coarsely chopped dried figs (I used black mission)
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter
2/3 cup buttermilk
Raw or coarse sugar
Cook bacon in heavy large skillet over medium heat until cooked through but still tender and not crisp, turning occasionally. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain; cool. Pour bacon drippings from skillet into small heatproof bowl and reserve.
Whisk flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper in large bowl. Coarsely chop cooled bacon. Add bacon and dates to flour mixture; toss to coat. Coarsely grate butter into flour mixture. Using fork, stir in butter. Add buttermilk; stir until large moist clumps form. Using hands, knead mixture briefly in bowl until dough forms.
Transfer dough to floured work surface. Pat into 8-inch round. Cut into 8 wedges. Transfer scones to sheet. Cover and chill scones 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 400Â°f. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush with reserved bacon drippings. Sprinkle with raw sugar.
Bake scones until golden brown and tester inserted into center of scones comes out clean, 16 to 18 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Makes 8 large scones