Jalapeño, Cheddar and Bacon Scones

Not far from the Concrete Jungle lies a town called Port Chester, home to Neri’s, a family-run Italian bakery dating back to 1910. People waiting to order their hazelnut-vanilla biscotti or onion bagels queue up behind the counter, nearly surpassing the entrance. It is not a large bakery: shelves and stacks of pinwheel cookies, decorated cakes and fresh breads clutter the counters and walls. On some days, a special aroma greets people who enter the bakery. It’s a combination of crisp bacon and baked cheddar. Scones. But not just any scones. These have a tender, flaky inside speckled with bits of bacon, grated cheddar and chopped jalapeños; shielded by a buttery crust.
The taste. This savory scone is the perfect combination of salty, sweet and spicy. It’s incredibly rich so of course, it must be eaten slowly. To savor each and every bite. Even after going back home, the taste of these scones has been tingling on the the tip of my tongue (how’s that for alliteration?). So of course, I attempted to make my own. And boy, were they delicious. My scones had a lighter texture, so they felt less tedious to digest. They were fresher, and that deep, golden-brown color made them all the more sensual. Before baking, I sprinkled them with some grated cheese, which caramelized while baking and gave the scones a crispier, flakier crust.

The recipe I used was loosely adapted from Smitten Kitchen, I made many adjustments- for one, I used buttermilk instead of heavy cream. Scones are usually made with heavy cream, but I find that buttermilk gives breads and cakes a moister texture, which was also evident in these scones. I also used around two tablespoons of shortening in place of some of the butter. Shortening is used in pies for a flaky and light crust, it’s also used in biscuits- which are fairly similar to scones. The fact is, I was short of butter. You can use all butter. This combination worked out perfectly for me, though. I also added bacon bits and increased the amount of cheese (bacon and cheese are always a bonus), as well as some sugar for sweetness- it contrasts the spicy peppers and salty bacon so well. When I make these again, I’ll be sure to increase the jalapeño and bacon content. You can never have too much of that stuff. Also, I’ll go lighter on the egg wash by adding more water, or just replacing the egg with heavy cream instead.

These are absolutely divine served with some butter. Do give them a try. You won’t regret it.

Start by getting some bacon and jalapeños together. 
Chop them up- not too finely. 

Dump the bacon into a pan and cook it until it begins to brown- between 5-10 min. 

Leave some bacon fat in the pan and place the bacon on a paper towel to drain some of the fat.

Now sauté the jalapeños in the same pan. Place them with the bacon to cool.
Roughly grate some cheddar cheese- thick strips and add a bit of flour. 
Add the jalapeños and bacon to the cheese and stir to combine, then set aside.

In a bowl, combine some flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and butter.
Use a fork or pastry cutter to combine

 …until the texture resembles breadcrumbs. 
In a small bowl, beat some eggs and buttermilk together. 

Add the wet mixture to the butter mixture and stir with a wooden spoon
…till everything is incorporated. 

 Dump in the cheese mixture and stir again. 

Plop the dough onto a well-floured surface. 

Knead for around a minute until the dough comes together. 
Press the dough into a circle with your fingers, to about 1 inch in thickness,
then cut into 8 equal portions- Pizza style. 

Place the pieces on a baking sheet and brush with some egg wash
(some egg mixed with 1 tbsp of water). 

Sprinkle a bit of grated cheese on each piece
…and finally! Bake the scones until golden brown. 
Ahh.. the smells that make their way out of the oven.

Serve warm… these taste great plain- or with some melted butter 🙂

Ingredients for the dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
7 tbsp unsalted butter (substitute 2 tbsp with shortening if you desire)
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
3/4 grated cheddar cheese
6-8 rashers of bacon
1/4 cup jalapeño pickles

For the topping:
1 egg (beaten) mixed with 1 tbsp of water – this is the egg wash.
2 tbsp grated cheddar cheese      

Plan of Action:
Preheat the oven to 440 F or 230 C and grease- or line a baking tray with parchment paper.
1. Chop up the jalapeños and bacon.
2. Cook the bacon in a saucepan for around 5-7 min or until it becomes crisp.
3. Drain the bacon, leaving it’s fat behind in the pan, and place on a paper towel to drain.
4. Fry the jalapeños for a couple minutes, and place with the bacon to cool.
5. Take out 1 tbsp of the flour and mix it with the cheese. Add in the cooled bacon-jalapeño mixture and stir to combine.
7. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and butter and incorporated through a pastry cutter or fork until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
8. Whisk together the eggs and buttermilk, and add it into the flour mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon to combine.
9. Mix in the cheese mixture and place the dough on a floured surface. Knead for around 1 minute.
10. Spread the dough out into a circle 1 inch thick with your fingertips. Cut the dough into 8 equal portions using a pizza cutter.
11. Place the pieces of dough onto the baking tray. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle on some cheese.
12. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops are golden in color.
Enjoy these nice and warm.

click here for
Smitten Kitchen’s original recipe