Best scones, made with sourdough discard

I am beginning to suspect that these scones are justification alone for nurturing a sourdough mother in the first place. They are so good, quite a notch above any other scones I have ever made or tried. They came into my life unexpectedly, thanks to a friend who made them for a (licit!, low-key) birthday gathering in the park last year. I quickly asked for the recipe. And immediately began playing around with ingredients.

The original recipe is with chocolate chips but I’ve been riffing on them brazenly since the beginning (I don’t love chocolate chips). Some sweet, some savory, all of them spur-of-the-moment improvisations, usually with what’s in the house.

The first were with pancetta and wild garlic, I made them for Easter last year (first and last photos). This weekend, guided again by vestiges in the fridge, it was leek, chorizo, and pecorino — so good! (even though I forgot to put in half of the leeks. Always running out of time and doing everything at the very last minute…). Cheddar and leeks would be great too. Or chives and smoked trout!

The sweet versions have remained more constant: sultanas, corinth raisins, and walnuts is a perfect combination. But I can imagine slivered almonds with little bits of dried apricots. Walnuts and figs. Pistachios and barberries…

The possibilities are endless.

Were homemade sourdough to disappear from my life, these scones might be the most missed casualty.

Sourdough discard scones adapted from Little Spoon Farm
This is a basic recipe which includes ingredient suggestions for either sweet or savory versions. Begin by choosing the type of scones desired before starting out. If I were to make plain scones I would follow the sweet recipe and include sugar at the very least, and probably vanilla extract and lemon zest too.

Wet ingredients
125g (1/2 cup) sourdough discard
1 egg
2 Tbsps heavy cream (plus 2 Tbsps to brush the scones before baking)
1 Tbsp yogurt

In a medium bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients — sourdough discard, egg, cream, and yogurt. Set aside.

Dry ingredients
250g (2 cups) flour (I usually use white spelt)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsps baking powder
113g very cold butter (this is important as it will be grated into the dough)

In a large bowl, whik together the flour, salt, and baking powder.

Grate in the cold butter and use fingertips to crumble well into the flour mix until it ressembles something like coarse crumbs. Set aside.

***** *** ***** *** ***** *** *****

Components for sweet scones
2 Tbsps sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Grated zest from 1/2 lemon
160g dried fruit and nuts (for example: currants, sultanas, and walnuts; finely chopped dried apricots and slivered almonds; finely chopped figs and walnuts; chopped pistachios and barberries; …)

Components for savory scones
A handful of green: chopped wild garlic or finely sliced leeks (these I sear in a little oil in a pan for 3 to 4 minutes) or finely chopped chives — all well washed.
A handful of meat: finely diced pancetta (lightly browned in a small pan), finely cubed chorizo (can be left raw), finely cup smoked trout or salmon
A handful of grated cheese: Parmiggiano, cheddar, pecorino, … (though I might omit the cheese if using smoked fish)

***** *** ***** *** ***** *** *****

Mix the chosen components into the dry ingredients and combine to distribute evenly.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix by hand just enough to create a dough that holds together. It will be quite dry but there should be no need to add any liquid.

Create a ball, then flatten it into a very thick pancake. Place the ‘pancake’ onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and cut it into eight pie wedges. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and place in the fridge for at least half an hour and up to overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 200C (400F).

Brush the scones with heavy cream (and sprinkle the sweet scones with sugar if desired), slide into the oven, and bake for 20 minutes until golden.

The scones are best eaten immediately, if possible still warm!

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