Half biscuit, half muffin, all good. These savory cheddar scones with black pepper and nuts have a delightful cheesiness and a unique zing from the black pepper. They’re the perfect accompaniment to a simple supper of soup and salad or for breakfast, especially for those that shy away from sweet baked goods in the morning.
Some scones can be dry and crumbly and really aren’t very good even a few hours after they come out of the oven. Not these cheddar nut scones! They are high in flavor and moisture, so they’re even good the next day. The recipe is so flexible, too! Change up the extras to suit your tastes.
How to Make These Scones Your Own
- Use one cheese or any combination you like. Cheddar, Pepper Jack, Gouda, etc. Be sure to use a cheese with good sharp flavor; mild cheese will be lost.
- Add any kind of nuts you like or a combo. No nuts? No problem.
- Instead of nuts, try some dried fruit. Dried cranberries or cherries or chopped dried apricots would be really yummy.
- Use both dried fruit and nuts for extra yumminess.
- Want something spicy? Add cayenne pepper and some jarred or canned jalapenos or green chilies. Just be sure to pat the peppers dry before mixing them in.
- Change up the spices. Don’t like black pepper? Add some Creole Seasoning, just reduce your salt a bit. Making them to go along with a pot of chili? Try some chili powder and cumin. The choice is all yours. (The black pepper adds a terrific zip, though!)
Here I’ve used a sharp Irish cheddar cheese and a mixture of chopped cashews, pecans and pistachios.
Cheddar Scones Are a Quick Mix!
Preheat your oven and gather your ingredients. All cooking and baking is faster if you prep your ingredients first. Also, you’re much less likely to forget something.
To toast nuts: Chop the nuts if needed and lay them on the sheet pan you’ll use to bake the scones. Place them in the heated (or nearly heated) oven for about 5 minutes. Set a timer! Toasting nuts activates the oils in them and really brings out their flavor.
Scones utilize the Biscuit Method of mixing. Yes, that’s a professional term as are the Creaming and Muffin Methods. They refer to how the fat is incorporated into the recipe and are designed so that a chef can just look at an ingredient list followed by one of those terms and then know how to put the ingredients together. The biscuit method refers to combining dry ingredients together, cutting in cold solid fat like butter, then folding in wet ingredients.
So … stir your dry ingredients together, then toss in your cold, cubed butter to coat it. To “cut in” the butter you can use a pastry blender or by working two table knives in an X fashion, but I greatly prefer to cut in the butter with my hands. It’s fast and I can really tell what’s going on in there.
I rub a hunk or two of butter between my fingers so it makes a sort of shingle – then leave that one alone and move on. The point here is to reduce the butter into pieces approximately the size of peas, more or less, which yields flakiness to the finished scone. I also do this with biscuit dough and pie dough.
Mix Your Scones Very Gently, Their Tenderness Depends On It
Stir in the cheese and nuts (or other mix-ins) so they’re evenly distributed, then add the cream. Fold the dough together gently. If you use a heavy hand or over mix, you’ll develop the gluten in the flour and your scones will be tough.
Turn out onto a very lightly floured counter (just enough to prevent sticking, we don’t want to add any flour to the dough) and gently knead only for a few moments (not minutes!) until it becomes a cohesive ball.
Using your hands, press the dough into a circle, about 1″ thick. Cut like a pie into 8 wedges. You can also cut the scone dough into circles or squares. If using a cutter, DON’T twist it. Just make a fast sharp cut, wiggle it back and forth and release. Twisting will inhibit the rise by sort of sealing up the edges of the scone. If you ever see a lopsided biscuit, that’s usually what happened on the low side of it.
Lay the cut scones onto a parchment-lined or greased sheet pan. Brush with the egg wash and bake. They should be golden on the top, lightly browned on the bottom and firm yet springy to the touch.
Egg Wash Tidbits
If you’ve never used it or never understood the term, egg wash refers to egg beaten with a little liquid (generally water) then brushed onto baked goods for shine. You can achieve three different results from an egg wash depending on what parts of the egg you use. Egg white only will yield only shine; beaten whole egg (white and yolk) will create a golden shine and yolk only will give a browned shine.
You can save your leftover egg wash for a couple of days in the refrigerator if you can use it again or for something else, such as mixing into meatballs. I often cook it in the microwave for about 20 seconds and give it to the dog because he loves eggs. He’s happy to eat it raw, but that can be messy!
What to Serve with Cheddar Scones
- Soup, like my Hearty Vegetable Beef Soup
- Frittata or omelets
- Beef or Venison Stew
- Topped with Creme Fraiche, Honey or Jam
Cheddar Cheese Scones with Black Pepper and Nuts
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt (or 3/4 tsp fine table salt)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
- 5 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into approx. 1/2" cubes
- 2 cups shredded sharp (or extra sharp) cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup chopped toasted nuts (pecans, walnuts, pistachios)
- 1 cup heavy or whipping cream
- 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
- Preheat oven to 425°. You can toast the nuts in the oven for a few minutes right on the sheet pan you'll use to bake the scones.
- Stir the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Cut in the cubed, cold butter using your hands or a pastry blender until the butter is approximately the size of small peas.
- Stir the cheese and nuts into the flour mixture to evenly distribute them. Pour in the cream all at once and fold until the cream is barely incorporated.
- Lightly flour your countertop. Turn out the dough in the bowl and scrape it if necessary. Knead the dough for a few seconds, just enough to bring it together into a well formed ball – do not knead any longer.
- Press the dough ball into a circle 1 inch thick. Cut like a pie into 8 wedges and place the wedges onto a parchment-lined or greased sheet pan.
- Beat the egg with 1 t water. The well beaten egg should be smooth with no clumps. Brush the tops of the scones with the egg wash.
- Bake 12-15 minutes until tops are golden and bottoms are lightly browned. They should feel a little springy, not solid or squishy when properly baked. Remove from the sheet pan to cool (or the bottoms will continue to cook.)