Friday, February 8, 2013

Food on Friday: Joy the Baker's Roasted Red Pepper & Feta Scones

A few weekends ago on a cold and gloomy Sunday morning, I got out of bed early--and by early, I mean 9:30--put on my coziest sweater and mixed the dough for these amazing scones.  

As soon as I had finished cracking eggs, measuring salt and baking soda and kneading, I ran back upstairs to warm my toesies under the covers and cuddle until they were golden brown. 

Normally, we have four standard weekend breakfasts: 

1. scrambled eggs (always with red bell pepper, onion, garlic and feta)

2. french toast (with syrup for him and powdered sugar for me)

3. pancakes (blueberry)  

4. German breakfast (cheese, salami, jams, rolls and a perfectly soft boiled egg)

We always take our time and use the hour or two to chat and slow down after a stressful work week. But, the rotating four just sounded a little boring this time.   When I saw these Roasted Red Pepper & Feta Skillet Scones on Joy the Baker's blog, I knew these were going to get us out of the breakfast rut. 

And boy did they.  Coming out of the oven, these scones were possibly the most beautiful dish of food I have ever seen.  I didn't even want to eat them they were so perfectly brown and delightfully textured, with speckles of freshly cracked pepper dotting the top.  Believe me when I say they tasted as good as they looked and were dense and exploding with flavor. We slathered ours in butter (because butter makes everything better) and accompanied them with a soft boiled egg.  

It was the perfect Sunday morning--the kind of Sunday morning for flickering candle light, listening to Ray LaMontagne and wrapping your cold hands around a giant mug of coffee to warm them.  We sat at the table for a long time, eating buttered pieces of scone and talking about everything and nothing at the same time.  And, suddenly, all the coldness was gone and only scones and love remained.  

Roasted Red Pepper & Feta Skillet Scones
by Joy the Baker

(I didn't use a skillet because we don't have one.  I used a pie plate instead and it worked great!)

makes 8 servings

adapted from Simply Recipes

4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (
*500-530 grams)
1 tablespoon sugar (*15 grams)
1 teaspoon salt (
*6 grams)
1 teaspoon baking soda (
*5 grams)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes (
*56 grams)
1 large egg, beaten
1 3/4 cup buttermilk, cold (
*414 ml)
1 cup coarsely chopped roasted red peppers* (I used store bought peppers instead of making my own)
heaping 1/2 cup coarsely crumbled feta cheese
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

*If you’re starting with fresh red bell pepper, it will need to be roasted and toasted first.  Turn a gas stovetop burner on to medium heat.  Place the entire pepper directly over the flame and allow to rest there until blackened and charred.  Use a pair of tongs to flip the pepper so that it can be browned on all sides.  Remove from the flame, cut in half (removing the top and seeds) and use a sharp knife to gently peel away the charred skin.  You can leave a bit of the charred skin in tact for a rustic look and taste.  Coarsely chop the pepper and set aside.
Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Grease a large (9 or 10-inch) cast iron skillet with either olive oil or vegetable shortening and set aside.  Alternately you can use a greased round cake pan if your don’t have a cast iron skillet.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda.
Add the cold butter and, using your fingers, quickly break the butter down into the dry ingredients.  Some bits of butter will be the size of small peas, others the size of oat flakes.
In a small bowl, beat together egg and buttermilk.
Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients.  Stir with a wooden spoon, working to moisten every bit of flour with the buttermilk mixture.  Before the mixture is entirely incorporated, add red pepper, feta cheese, and basil.  Dump mixture out onto a clean work surface and gently knead together.  If the dough is too sticky, add a bit more flour.  The dough should be moist but still shaggy.  Gather into a 1 1/2-inch thick about 8-inch round.  The dough will be shaggy, that’s better than over-kneading the dough.
Transfer dough to prepared pan.  Use a serrated knife to mark an inch deep X into the dough.  Brush generously with buttermilk and top with cracked black peppercorns.  Place in the oven and allow to bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the top is a deep golden color and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.  If you’re using a regular cake pan instead of cast iron, check the scones after 30 minutes.

Let bread rest in the pan for 10 minutes before removing.  Serve warm.  This bread is best served straight from the oven or warm.  It is best the day it is made.

* Metric units are approximate.  

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