|Aria fig walnut scone|
For many years, I've had a vision of owning a little bakery in a small town. I never imagined anything fussy or too big, but a place where the locals would drop in and have a chat, a coffee and a tasty scone, muffin or toasted sourdough with jam and butter. My little bakery's interior would be rustic, a couple old wood tables and chairs, and high ceilings...like something old, familiar and friendly. Along with my photographs, I'd have photos of family spread out around me, images that remind me of the road we've all traveled together. Right out front there'd be an old, weathered bench...the kind that has been worn smooth by time. I'd serve up a hearty and delicious soup of the day, (I'm well known for my belly warming soups) and there it would sit, a big simmering pot of veggies, stock and herbs, the aroma of all good things spreading the news of lunch time soon to come. There would be a daily bread (one of my favorite sections in cooking school) along with the standard sourdoughs and levain's. I've got all these images here in my memory bank, in fact, I've drawn a picture of my bakery, and most importantly, there I am standing there in front of my little place...smiling.
In my travels, I have found that bakery in Murphys, Ca. Aria by far is my favorite artisan style bakery (French bakery~ Miette in San Francisco is tops). This bakery/cafe is amazingly similar to "My Bakery"... a sketch I drew five years ago. Undoubtedly one of the reasons I was drawn to this gem and why I love this bakery dearly. Besides that, they have really delicious baked goods, breads and desserts (they also serve up tasty sandwiches, salads and soups).
Jim and I always stop here before we head up the hill to our cabin. For a girl, who at 5 years old, stood and cried when asked what kind of ice cream she wanted at 31 flavors, ( Jim often has to come check on me to see what's taking me so long to get our goods), I tend to look over each offering, appreciating what goes in to each lovely treat. Crafted with care, knowledge and quality ingredients, the gals at Aria have created a well~loved bakery that has locals and visitors coming back again and again.
On our last stop at Aria, I picked up a bear claw for Jim (I did sneak a bite), and I chose a fig and walnut scone. Both finger lickin' good. The scone was so good, full of figs and walnuts, texture and flavor, it inspired me to make up a batch at home. Once again, using ingredients I had at hand, I settled on pear and walnut, and put together a recipe that is reminiscent of a traditional English cream scone. It's a winner (Jim told me so)...tender, soft and delicately fragranced by the pear, which also provides sweetness. The walnuts add crunch, texture and flavor to this perfect afternoon accompaniment to a lovely cup a' tea. Cheers!
- 2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for rolling
- 3 tablespoons sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 5 tablespoons european style butter, cut in 1 inch chunks, very cold
- 2 extra large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- handful toasted walnuts, chopped
- 1 pear, large dice
- egg wash
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment. I use my Kitchenaide to mix the first 4 ingredients, but go ahead and use what ever you have...pastry cutter, knives or food processor. Add the butter and mix slowly until the butter's the size of peas. Mix the eggs, cream and vanilla together and add to the flour/butter mix. Slowly mix until just blended. At this point, add the walnuts, mix in, then gently fold in the pears. The mixture will be slightly wet and lumpy. Pour it all out onto a well floured board, counter or marble. Keep moving the dough so it doesn't stick. Pat or roll it into a 1 inch thick oval. Cut 3 inch rounds with a cutter or knife and place on baking sheet. Brush with egg wash (egg and a bit of water) and sprinkle generously with sugar. Bake for 15~20 min. until the tops are browned and scones have risen. Sprinkle them with more sugar and let them sit for 10 minutes or so before devouring. Makes about 6 scones. These freeze well~ prepare up until egg wash and sugar, pop them in the freezer, then when you're ready to bake, pull them out, give them an egg wash and sugar, and bake 20~25 min or until brown.