These are the best scones I’ve ever made. Pears and almonds were clearly meant for each other. I offered clotted cream and pear butter on the side with these this morning, since I had some of both, but that just turns them into straight up dessert. The only accompaniment they really need is a hot mug of your favorite tea.
The first time I whipped these up was just a month or so ago, but it’s pear season and I keep picking or buying them from farms and patiently waiting for them to ripen. Pears are unusual in that they don’t ripen on the tree, but only after picking. This works out well because so many other fruits that I like to pick demand to be dealt with as soon as I get them home. For this recipe, try to use moderately ripe but still somewhat firm pears. If they’re super ripe, they’ll become mushy when you roast them.
After making this recipe a few times, I feel confident that I’m recommending the right amount of liquid to bring the dough together. But I’ll also share with you a tip for scone making that I learned from the Cheeseboard Cooperative’s cookbook. They suggest having a little extra cream and/or buttermilk on hand, and gradually adding it if the dough isn’t coming together and there’s still lots of dry flour in the bowl. I’ve definitely made some scone recipes where an extra tablespoon was required, and then there were even ones where I was sure the recipe was off by a 1/4 cup of liquid. It’s not just you… it’s that the air is more or less humid that day, your flour is retaining more or less moisture, etc.
A few special notes:
- I highly recommend getting a pastry cutter for integrating cold butter into flour. I’ve tried a few kinds and the wire type pictured below works best. I use it for scones, as well as pastry/pie crusts.
- I had a hard time finding almond paste recently (not marzipan, which has more sugar, and is used for candy making), so I ordered several 8 oz. boxes of it from Amazon recently. Zero regrets. 😉
- 3 pears or about 1 pound of ripe but somewhat firm pears
- 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
- 4 oz. of almond paste, cut into little squares or grated
- 1/4 cup sugar, plus 1/2 tablespoon for sprinkling
- 2 eggs (1 for the dough and 1 for brushing the scone tops)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus extra for the egg wash
- (optional) 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into small chunks (refrigerator cold, not frozen)
- (scant) 1/2 cup heavy cream
- sliced almonds
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking pan with parchment paper.
- Peel, core, and cut the pear into roughly 1-inch chunks. Spread the pears onto the baking sheet and roast for about 20 mins. They should be lightly browned and dry on the surfaces when done. (My pears were less ripe and in bigger pieces than the first time I made these, so they took more like 35 mins. to roast. But the scones turned out oh-so-good with perfect caramelized chunks of pear.)
- Whisk the flour, 1/4 cup of sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. (You could tackle these first three steps the night before to save time the morning of.)
- Cut the cold butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter until the butter is integrated and is about the size of small peas. Gently stir in the almond paste and the pear pieces with a large spoon.
- Whisk the egg and then add it along with the cream and almond extract to the flour mixture. Mix gently until the dough starts to come together. If there’s lots of dry flour still, add a drizzle of additional cream to the mixture and stir gently. Try not to stir aggressively in order to avoid smashing the pear pieces, which will make the dough really sticky.
- Drop the dough onto your parchment paper and flour your hands a bit. Press the dough by hand into a round about 1 1/2 inches tall. Cut into 6 wedges. Spread the wedges a few inches apart on the baking sheet.
- Whisk an egg with a dash of salt and a teaspoon of water, and brush the tops of the scones lightly. Sprinkle a little sugar, and then a few almond slices on each scone and put them in the oven.
- Bake for 25 – 28 mins. until they are lightly browned.
- Let cool on wire rack for 5 – 10 mins. and serve.
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