I spent early Thursday morning drinking coffee and sampling pastries and baked goods at Rebecca Rather’s Rather Sweet Bakery & Cafe in Fredericksburg, Texas. Rather, the author of “Pastry Queen Parties: Entertaining Friends and Family, Texas Style” and “The Pastry Queen Christmas: Big–Hearted Holiday Entertaining, Texas Style,” which was an 2008 IACP Cookbook Awards Winner, has a charming shop fronting a secluded courtyard.
Rather started cooking as a child but segued into it after a career as a model, running a catering business in Houston. With an avid interest in baking, she honed her bread baking skills training with Daniel Leader, owner of Bread Alone in Boiceville, New York, who was one of the leaders in introducing artisan hearth-baked, European style bread to this country. After working in a corporate job opening up bakeries, Rather decided she’d rather be on her own and so, after moving to this delightful historic town in the Hill Country of Central Texas, creates delicious goodies at her bakery.
Although everything I tried there was delicious, one of my favorites – and one of Rather Sweet’s best sellers – is her apple-smoke bacon scone. Here is Rather’s recipe and though I doubt that I can come close to making my as good as hers, I’m going to give it a try.
Apple-Smoked Bacon and Cheddar Scones
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1-1/2 cups grated Cheddar cheese
4 green onions, thinly sliced
10 slices bacon, cooked and chopped into 1-inch bits
3/4 to 1-1/2 cups buttermilk
1 large egg
2 tablespoons water
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and black pepper in a large bowl on low speed. With the mixer running, gradually add the cubes of butter until the mixture is crumbly and studded with flour-butter bits about the size of small peas. Add the grated cheese and mix just until blended. (This can also be done by hand. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper. Gradually cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture resembles small peas. Stir in the cheese.)
Add the green onions, bacon, and 3/4 cup of the buttermilk to the flour and cheese mixture. Mix by hand just until all the ingredients are incorporated. If the dough is too dry to hold together, use the remaining buttermilk, adding 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough is pliable and can be formed into a ball. Stir as lightly and as little as possible to ensure a light-textured scone. Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a lightly floured flat surface. Pat the dough into a ball. Using a well-floured rolling pin, flatten the dough into a circle about 8 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick. Cut the dough into 8 to 10 equal wedges, depending on the size scone you prefer.
Whisk the egg and water in a small mixing bowl to combine. Brush each wedge with the egg wash. Place the scones on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown and no longer sticky in the middle. Serve warm.
Yield: 8 to 10 scones