Breakfast food is not my favorite. When I wake up, I am so not in the mood to make a meal. That requires too much A.M. standing. However, I love these Cinnamon Pecan Scones because I can make them in advance (minimal morning standing), and they pair perfectly with a steaming cup of Earl Grey. Oh and did I mention they’re fun and easy to make?
If you’ve made biscuits or pie dough before this recipe will feel familiar. If not, allow me to introduce you to the cut-in method.
Mix all your dry ingredients together, then dump them out onto a flat surface. Throw your cold and cubed butter in with the dry ingredients, and using a pastry cutter, bench scraper (my tool of choice) or large knife begin to “cut-in” the butter.
Most cut-in recipes say blend until the mixture resembles a “coarse meal.” I have no idea what that means. I must have missed “coarse meal” day in pastry school. I cut in until the pieces of butter are a little smaller than pea-size (pictured above). Is that coarse meal consistency? Only Julia Child knows. Does it result in tender and delicious scones? Yes, and that’s all that matters.
Pastry nerd alert! The cut-in method is a crucial step for two reasons. First, it coats the flour particles in fat. This coating is like an armor that prevents gluten from developing. Low gluten development results in a tender product. Secondly, the small pieces of butter, when exposed to heat, release steam. That steam lifts the dough and results in a flakey, buttery texture.
Once the butter is cut in, form a large well in the center. Pour the wet ingredients in the well and then use your hands or a fork to incorporate the dry into the wet. Once moist, gently knead the dough for a few strokes. Then slightly flatten the dough, fold it in half like a book. Then repeat this two or three times. Beware of over mixing! It’s ready when the dough is almost smooth.
Now you’re ready to roll out, cut, and bake. Roll out the dough about 3/4″ thick. You can use a cookie cutter like me or just a knife. A cookie cutter ensures your scones are the same size, but it can waste a lot of dough. This isn’t the type of dough you can re-roll. Re-kneading and re-rolling causes too much gluten development and creates tough scones. So if you’re presentation conscious (a.k.a. writing a food blog/having tea with the Queen) go with a cutter. Otherwise cut your cinnamon pecan scones freehand and marvel at their soft and flakey interiors.
I like scones because the aren’t too sweet and go so well with a hot cup of tea or coffee. These Cinnamon Pecan Scones are no different. They’re subtly sweet, have a touch of warmth from the cinnamon, and a crunchy texture from the pecans.
Make these on Sunday and have an on-the-go breakfast for busy mornings. Or serve them up when family comes in for the holidays. Who needs Starbucks, right? Just kidding! We all do (desperately), but now you’ve got the scone part covered.
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 Tbs. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 6 Tbs. unsalted butter, cold and cubed
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup pecan pieces, toasted
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Mix together milk and egg in a small bowl. Set aside. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon on a large cutting board.
- Cut-in cold butter into dry ingredients, butter pieces should be slightly smaller than a pea.
- Create a large well in the center of the flour. Pour the milk mixture into the well. Incorporate dry ingredients into the wet until moist. Add toasted pecans.
- Gently knead dough for several strokes. Then slightly flatten and fold dough in half like a book two or three times. Do not over mix! Stop mixing when the dough is almost smooth.
- Roll out dough to 3/4”. Cut out into desired shapes.
- Bake on a bare sheet pan for 12-15 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown.
- Serve warm or store in an air-tight container for 3 to 4 days.
- For extra gold brown goodness, brush tops of scones with milk before baking.